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Feds Raid Drug Lawyer’s Office

April 14, 2011

Stanley H. Needleman (left) with Jose Morales. PHOTO: RARAH

Federal law enforcement officers searched lawyer Stanley H. Needleman’s offices this morning, the Sun‘s Justin Fenton reports.

Calls to Needleman’s home and office were not returned immediately.

Needleman is a prominent local defense attorney who specializes in drug cases. He defended Jose Morales in a series of theft and intimidation cases,  all of which were dropped earlier this year in the wake of Morales’ conviction in federal court and 20-plus-year sentence for cocaine trafficking.

Shortly after Morales was busted in 2008, rumors circulated that he was ratting out his Baltimore lawyer for involvement in the drug trade. During his sentencing hearing in March of 2010, prosecutors said Morales’ claims regarding Needleman were baseless.

“We contacted Baltimore U.S. Attorneys’ Office, they sent an [assistant U.S. attorney] along with an [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agent and like we spent four days debriefing Mr. Morales,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Ferko told the judge, “only just basically to realize that he’d been lying almost the entire time.”

Ferko did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The specific allegations were sealed, according to the transcript. But during the 47-minute sentencing hearing the question of Morales’ cooperation continually came up, with Federal District Judge Randy Crane promising to reduce Morales’ sentence if he provided good information and Morales claiming that he had already given up not only names but bank account numbers of his co-conspirators.

“Yes, I did tell some lies in the beginning with my first attorney who gave me some very bad advice,” Morales told the court. “And he told me to make a story up, a big story if I wanted the bail and that’s what I did.

“And then when I hired [Attorney John] Teakell I went in and as Mr. Teakell said to tell the truth on everything and I did about Adam, about Raul, the person that come from, everything, 100 percent of everything.”

A call to Teakell, Morales’ Texas-based defense attorney, was not immediately returned.

Morales was caught with six kilos of cocaine in McAllen, Texas, as he was trying to charter a jet to Baltimore. Prosecutors later discovered that Morales was shipping kilos of cocaine to houses he was supposedly renovating in Baltimore and to his girlfriend’s grandmother’s home, according to the sentencing transcript. The girlfriend, Tiffany Frey, admitted to authorities that she had helped smuggle cocaine into Baltimore inside a maternity dress.

Federal agents have since raided an auto glass business apparently related to Morales’ scheme, but until this morning, the investigation of Needleman appeared to have been dropped. Needleman’s son and daughter-in-law, Jonas and Christie Needleman, received probation before judgment in 2006 for their part in a Baltimore County drug ring, although those case files are no longer available through online search. Christie Needleman says she has had little contact with her father-in-law since moving her law office from his on Feb. 1 of this year.

“I know this might be hard for you to believe, but we don’t know anything,” she says. “The first I heard of it was when a Sun reporter came to the office this morning.”

Jose Morales sentencing hearing transcript-2

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