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CP readers knew: A brief history of Maryland’s struggles with Black Guerrilla Family correctional corruption

April 30, 2013

Fourteen articles published by City Paper between April 2009 and August 2010 provide details of Maryland’s struggles with gang-related correctional corruption during a 16-month period ending nearly three years before the latest Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang indictment named BGF leader Tavon White (pictured) and 13 correctional officers (COs) as defendants. In total, CP‘s records of online usage show that the 14 articles have been looked at more than 250,000 times, providing readers with a host of insights about a problem that stewed for years before the latest federal action prompted a soul-searching crisis for Maryland corrections. Here’s a recap, with links to the “Hit List” of articles, of what readers knew long before the current maelstrom hit:

Veteran inmate Eric Brown, and his wife, Dietra Davenport, having started a nonprofit and published a community self-help guide called The Black Book, are among those charged in April 2009 Maryland drugs-and-corruption indictments cracking down on the BGF’s reach in and out of prisons, which was facilitated by correctional officers. The gang reacts by putting a bounty on the heads of cooperators. Brown had sought to legitimize the gang’s ideals and operations, so when his drug-dealing, extortionate ways are exposed in a protracted flurry of convictions, so is his hypocrisy.

Evidence of gang-related corruption among COs continues to emerge after the indictments, including a 2006 list of gang-tied COs identified by prison investigative staff, and another list in 2007, before the warden ordered a stop to the memos. Meanwhile, a pregnant CO is charged in state court for bringing a cell-phone to her unborn child’s father, a BGF member awaiting trial for murder, and more evidence emerges from a federal lawsuit brought by an inmate who claimed a CO facilitated a gang-ordered “hit” intended to kill him.

In the spring of 2010, just as City Paper is preparing a lengthy feature about CO-corruption issues, including the Maryland General Assembly’s curious attempt at reform, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announces a renewed push to crack down on the BGF. The effort indicts another CO, Alicia Simmons, and Kimberly McIntosh, a health-care worker with no criminal background who helped coordinate the gang’s street-level operations, including its ties to a well-established non-profit group called Communities Organized to Improve Life.