Maryland Prosecutor Wants Three BGF Prison-Gang Cases to Become One Big RICO
Maryland assistant U.S. Attorney James Wallner stated in a May 26 court filing 26 that the government intends to roll the three pending Black Guerilla Family (BGF) prison-gang indictments into a single Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) case. The first two cases were indicted in April 2009, and the third was unsealed on April 12 this year. The filing, which seeks to extend the amount of time allowed before a trial must begin, was made in the most recent case.
“The Government intends to supersede and combine this indictment with the remaining individuals charged in the other cases presently set before the Court,” Wallner wrote, “involving the investigation of the BGF, into a single racketeering indictment.” He also wrote that the “continuing investigation” has “focused on BGF’s attempts to utilize the paramilitary structure employed by the enterprise in prison to the streets of Baltimore,” and that the most recent case involves the prison gang’s “attempts to control significant portions of the heroin trade in Baltimore City.”
Charging a RICO case brings in a broader range of co-defendants’ conduct that can be attributed to each member of the RICO enterprise, explains federal criminal-defense attorney Michael Montemarano, who is representing BGF defendant Ray Olivis. It also triggers more significant penalties, Montemarano says, and so can prompt guilty pleas even before the case is indicted as a RICO.