Alleged BGF drug supplier pleads guilty in separate Eastern Shore case
Back when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was building its blockbuster 2009/2010 racketeering case against the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang – the one that had many of the same elements, including correctional corruption, as the current FBI-investigated racketeering case against the BGF – agents identified Austin Roberts (pictured), who goes by the nickname “Yellow,” as one of the gang’s main drug suppliers. Today, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Roberts, 37, has pleaded guilty in a separate, Eastern Shore drug conspiracy, and confirmed that the defendant is the same as the man targeted in the BGF case investigated by the DEA.
According to court documents in the 2009/2010 BGF case, Roberts was one of three “key lieutenants on the streets for drug-trafficking activities” on behalf of lead BGF defendant Eric Brown, who, while an inmate at the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore, was “in command of day-to-day operations in the State of Maryland” for the BGF. The other two were Rainbow Williams, who was indicted with Brown, and Gregory Fitzgerald, who was arrested on cocaine-conspiracy charges in January 2009, before the DEA’s first BGF indictments were handed down in April 2009. Fitzgerald beat those charges, but was busted again, along with co-defendants Curtis Byrd, Jr. and Tommy Heard, in yet another federal cocaine conspiracy to which he pleaded guilty last summer and received a 126-month prison sentence.
Until December, when Roberts was arrested in San Diego, he had been a fugitive since the indictment in the Eastern Shore conspiracy was handed down in June 2011. His co-defendants – Andrew Jackson, 39, of Baltimore; Maurice Kenneth Hardy, 37, of Nanticoke; and Tereek Nutter, 29, of Salisbury – have already entered guilty pleas. Their federal charges came in connection with a multi-year Eastern Shore drug probe that has led to charges against 71 suspected dealers, including Eric Maurice Holbrook, who was already a defendant in a heroin case arising from a 2010 FBI sting operation in the parking lot of the Bay Café in Canton.
The 2009/2010 BGF case involved extensive use of wiretaps, and though Roberts’ name came up numerous times in the course of the intercepted conversations, it appears that he never was a party to them. In Nov. 2008, for example, Fitzgerald talks with Thomas “Corey” Bailey, who’s described as the BGF’s man in charge of the gang’s “day-to-day operations inside of North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI) in Cumberland,” and Anthony Bruce, a high-ranking BGF member at NBCI, about Fitzgerald and Roberts enjoying themselves during a recent trip to Las Vegas. After Fitzgerald’s arrest in Baltimore, he again speaks with Bailey, discussing his intention to meet with Roberts to obtain drugs for Bailey to distribute.
From Dec. 2008 to Feb. 2009, according to court records, the DEA agents also shadowed Roberts’ movements, and saw him deal drugs to two people who, shortly thereafter, were arrested with 191 grams of cocaine. The agents described a home on the 2400 block of E. Fayette St. as a stash house used by Roberts that had also been a residence for incarcerated BGF member Alfred Johnson, whose sister was receiving money orders there from imprisoned BGF members.
If U.S. District judge Ellen Hollander accepts the guilty plea entered by Roberts in the Eastern Shore case, according to a press release sent out today by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, then “Roberts will be sentenced to 19 years in prison.” His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 9.