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Wergy tergy! Judge gives Baltimore drug lord Anthony Ayeni Jones a small sip of sympathy

March 13, 2014

Photo reprinted courtesy of The Baltimore Sun. All rights reserved.

The nation’s most secure prison is officially known as United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, but most simply call it ADX Florence or, to be colorful, the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” Located in Fremont County, Colorado, near the small city of Florence, in it live almost 500 of the best known names in the annals of infamy. Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, 9-11 bombing conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, Soviet spy Robert Hanssen, Gulf Cartel leader Juan Garcia Abrego, Bonanno crime family boss Vincent Basciano, Aryan Brotherhood prison gang founders Tyler Bingham and Barry Mills, and H. Rap Brown, the 1960s civil-rights militant whose checkered career culminated in the 2000 shooting in Georgia of two African-American sheriff’s deputies, one of whom died – they’re all there, serving life sentences.

Given the terrorists and spies and cop killers there, it might seem an odd place to send an East Baltimore drug lord with notches on his gun. After all, every city has a few of those. But there he is: Anthony Ayeni Jones, now 40 years old, who received four life sentences after 1998 jury convictions over his deadly career as a youthful gangster whose $30,000-a-day drug operation killed more than a dozen people. While in prison on gun charges in 1997, awaiting trial on the racketeering and murder charges, Jones sent coded assassination orders against associates he suspected were snitches – and even ordered their mothers executed. So, yes, he was more fearsome than your average gangster.

“Yergy, I mean the nergy got thergy fergy ergy,” was one of Jones’ coded messages, issued over a prison phone, and it resulted quickly in the 1997 execution of his stepbrother, John Jones, who had become a police cooperator – the only order from prison that resulted in an actual murder.

A Baltimore City police officer on Jones’ payroll, Erick McCrary, was convicted of witness tampering and released from federal prison in 2002. If there were other cops in Jones’ fold, none were accused.

Jones was spared the death sentence by his jury, but U.S. District judge William Nickerson placed special restrictions on Jones’ life-long term. As Jones describes them in a motion filed in January to relax them, Nickerson ordered that he “have entirely no outside world contact whatsoever” and that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) hold him “under extreme restrictive conditions.” Jones characterizes his confinement as being “buried alive,” and says “even prisoners on death row have some degree of outside world contact.”

Today, Nickerson gave Jones some ground, writing in an order that “with the passage of time, some modifications of the current conditions would be appropriate.” The judge ruled that Jones “should be permitted contact with other prisoners;” that, “in addition to supervised visits with his attorneys and mother,” he “should be permitted supervised visits with other members of his family;” and that he “should be permitted telephone communications with his mother and daughter.”

But Nickerson “disagrees” with Jones’ contentions, contained in his motion, “that the conditions placed upon his confinement are arbitrary, irrational, cruel and unusual, and have been imposed in a discriminatory manner in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution,” the order states.

Jones’ motion claims only minorities, not whites, are subjected to such tight BOP restrictions. “White mobsters are under no such restrictions, despite obvious evidence of ongoing criminal activity, including ordering murders from prison,” he writes. Neither are “white terrorist bombers with considerable followings,” Michael Rudkin, “a white man convicted of conspiring to murder a federal agent while housed in the BOP,” or Matthew Hale, “a white supremacist convicted of solicitation to kill a federal judge.” He adds that “out of the many high ranking members and others of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood gang convicted of ordering numerous murders from ADX and other prisons, not one member is under the drastic … prescription imposed on minorities.”

The way Jones sees it, there is “no substantial evidence” that he has “engaged or attempted to engage in any additional criminal activity, either inside or outside the prison,” he writes, and “the government cannot provide the court with sufficient evidence” that he is “likely or able to order additional murders from prison.”

“After 16 long years of solitary confinement with virtually no outside contact,” Jones writes, he “certainly has a legitimate psychological need, desire, and entitlement to some degree of outside world contact.”

Jones’ attorney, Paul Polansky, tried unsuccessfully in 2009 to ease the restrictions placed on his client, writing in a motion that “anyone who has a real understanding of the criminal milieu” would know that Jones “simply does not continue to have the kind of influence that he had ten years ago. The fact is, that Anthony Jones, if remembered at all, is old news.”

Jones’ prosecutor, assistant U.S. attorney Robert Harding, previously had opposed any changes in Jones’ restrictions, but now states in a in a letter to Nickerson, filed March 12, that the government’s position on the matter has changed. While the restrictions “were amply justified by the simple fact that one of the three murders Mr. Jones was convicted of committed involved Jones ordering the murder of a federal grand jury witness by making a phone call from a federal correctional institution,” now “the government acknowledges that the sheer passage of time may have reduced the threat Jones poses.”

Interestingly, despite being in solitary confinement, Jones has been able to get an education at ADX Florence. His filing includes “certificates of achievement” for classes, such as “Ancients Behaving Badly,” “Events That Changed History,” “The Rights of Man,” “The Planets,” “How the Earth Works,” “World’s Greatest Paintings,” “National Parks,” “Engineering Disasters,” “The Wild West,” and – one that seems almost poetic, given the arc of Jones’ life – “The Rise and Fall of Rome.”

  • Jamie Schott

    “Yergy, I mean the nergy got thergy fergy ergy,”

  • ms solomon

    Well Jones killed my brother in 1994 and and his best friend and I feel as though the restrictions put upon him were suitable .if I was the judge he would have received the death penalty, but BC they were afraid of him he just received life.Jones is a cruel and heartless individual and he should not have the right to see,her or speak to anyone .he should have thought about his outside socialization before taking the lives of others.

  • Day Slay

    That’s old my cousin posed gotten killed by someone on there team he was rolling with them & I still don’t wish that on him

  • 2gunz

    Free that man

  • Goddbody

    His crimes were brutal, heinous, and heartless, but I concur with his legal counsel. There are criminals just as notorious as AJ, even at ADX where he is currently housed in Florence, but you don’t see any of them of other ethnicity being placed in such subhuman conditions!

  • Sylvia Buckson

    Anthony was not the main issue the people behind him were. They pulled triggers. He gave orders. We have to forgive him as God forgives us. All people change and 16 years in solitary confinement with no out side contact is brutal. I knew Anthony the sweet one growing up and he is the same person. Any one with a force of power being them will use it. He made mistakes forgive him. I don’t condone nothing did at all but i believe in forgiveness and we should to. I’m sorry for the losses I’m not taking sides. Just being real i had hatred then too but let it go

  • Lil NET R.I.P

    Aj got a point even more notorious criminals has it better. Let that man see his mother and daughter. Lil NET R.I.P


    We all made mistakes, who are we to judge, we all are sinners, we all will pay for our wrongs when that time comes, GOD IS THE TRUE AND ONLY JUDGE NO MATTER WHAT WE WANT TO HAPPEN!!

  • Mr.XK8

    For those that say he should be set free or his restrictions lifted, would you feel that was if he had killed someone close to you in your family? If you dont want to be unfairly treated by the white man’s criminal justice system…then stay the fuck out of it.

  • Harvey Green

    Sad but true how ones environment can influence activity so harsh but the situation at hand is forgiveness time heals all wounds ,hate kills living souls .Being remorseful and living with our evil is punishment enough whether in prison or in society.We can’t change our past but we can change ourselves God willing to do better in life.

  • Jarrod Jones

    You never pray on somebodies misery…that man been on 23 hour lockdown for 16 yrs…and like he said it’s people locked up with him that are Mass murders…and their restrictions aren’t as tough as his…I say left that man come home…cause it ain’t never been proven that he pulled 1 trigger…just order the hit…so everybody that ratted on him say.

  • 808 Oliver St.

    Feeling bad inside for those who lost family members in the game, but all games have rules. Anyone who knew the Man, knows that he was kind hearted guy until you crossed the family.LOVE808

  • 808 Oliver St.

    20yrs ago Really, he suppose to be home by now compared to other criminal act in Baltimore. Have a little sympathy !!! He has 3 life sentences

  • Goddbody

    I feel your pain and would never attempt to imagine such an ordeal , because I can’t without having experienced it myself, but what is at issue here is fairness. Treat every violent criminal equally when meting out justice of the law. Don’t treat black criminals more harshly than their counterparts. That’s all I;m saying!!!

  • 808 Oliver St.


  • EastBaltimor luv

    I knew Anthony he had a kind heart like 808 Said every game has rules it could have went either way … Nobody that was murdered was innocent by standers on the real everybody played a part in some type of drug operation they just happen to loose their life before him … How does the saying go you live by the sword u die by the sword

  • EastBaltimor luv

    He deserves to see some type of light16 years is along time is ok for the white not right to sound racist cause im not so many of these young hustlers now a days they can never be more respectful then Anthony none of them

  • tim

    unconstitutional !

  • Eastside4Life

    To those speaking of his kind heart-GTFOH!!!! If u kiss it daughter and pay your mom’s mortgage but in the next breath order another man AND his mother killed U R NOT “a sweet kind-hearted person”.

    Gangsters are not hero’s but rather are sick twisted individuals. Stop watching Scarface and acting like drug dealers are good family men and find some real role models.

    And like someone said if u don’t want to get treated unfairly in the man’s system stay the F ou of it.

    Nobody said life was fair.

  • Refused 2be A Hood Chic

    In life we all make a Few mistakes. The Nature of our Mistakes doesn’t make us any less of a person then the Next. Who are people to pass judgement on another the nature of the crimes AJ has been accused of Committing were herendous, but in the streets Sh!t happen everyday it’s either killed or be killed. Folks on here talking about he deserves that because he killed this person & don’t so many other things but trust me when I say this. If it was your love one that would have killed him & that sort of punishment were inflicted on them how would you feel. Do y’all know what type of things y’all family members was into that may have caused their life to be taken so suddenly folks kills me with the one sided BS things that taken place in that time & era was hurtful heart breaking & sad but people can change. I have a love one that has been in jail since he was 17 years old behind all of that he will soon be release at 34 years old do I feel like he played a part in any of it of course I don’t! But on the flip side who really knows but him & them I say that to say before you wish hateful things on others because of what you may not really know learn to open your heart & allow forgiveness hold on to it is only making yourself a prisoner to it…….. Free My Baby Lil VIC it’s almost that Time free the real

  • Refused 2be A hood Chic

    I don’t feel like anyone deserves to have their life cut short by the hands of another man but ask your self what cause that to happen! Do you know what part your brother may have played in it all! Would it had been cool if your brother took his life & they had your brother living worst then a caged animal I pray GOD allows you to forgive & move on

  • killa

    Mannnn fukk lil Net he got his shiiit push back by his spot tht nigga was a must kill and fukk Jones 2 n fukk his supporters

  • MR.HOOD 101

    I read most of the shared comments about our brother and just about all of you is missing his point, he not asking to be set free cause he know he has a 3 life bid but can only live 1 life, all he is saying is why blacks are held to higher restrictions then everyone else just think yall look at mob wifes on tv talk to there fam. and we all know what the mob did back in the day. I think he should be able to talk to his mom and kid come on now they not going to kill no one. Now if you say your from the “hood” then you should know the rules. I think some people miss out on the first three. “If you don’t want to go to jail or die for this then don’t get mix up in it”. know what you in the game for and keep to the plan, trust no man. now if you say yes yes yes then you know you cant tell if you got knot just shut up cause you knew. I think we as a people need to look at how our life is looked down on by others but mostly by our self if we can talk real we can be the same.

  • Mike

    Ms Solomon your brother was a good friend of mine as well as Anthony and I feel sorry for your lost. But not even a convicted murderer needs to be treated like an animal. There is also many more who has done way worse crimes and they dont have these restrictions.

  • Mike

    Thats my point as well

  • Mike

    R.I.P Turbo and Shawn

  • Mike

    My point exactly

  • Clayton Bigsby

    To all those that are preaching leniency to Ms. Solomon, until you have had one of your siblings killed please do not tell her how to forgive.

    None of us can imagine what it is like to be in her shoes. If any of us were, the last thing we would care about is how that monster should be treated in comparison to other monsters.

    The only murderer relevant to Ms. Solomon is the one currently imprisoned and the fact that he got off the death penalty should allow this grieving woman to wish upon this man whatever conditions she likes.

    Anyone one else on this talkback would have wished him death.

  • Shania

    DAY Slay how could u possibly comment anything…. u need to be the Fuck in there with him for all the crut ball shit u did!

  • ESAD

    I am sure he spends countless of nights attempting to sleep with the bad choices he has made. Yes, his actions were unkind. I knew him personally and would never have thought this young man was capable of doing all the things he has done. I only knew the kind sweet side of this person. And yes we have several sides of a face. I have known of other ruthless killers, murders, drug dealers, etc who still are able to see other faces, cohabitate with others beings. I myself do not think its fare. Its inhuman. Even he has rights. This is just sick and unkind. Why not give him the death penalty. His crew members that he ran with did the same shit he did and they are not being treated as such.

  • Billy gates

    They need a documentary about Baltimore most ruthless drug dealer hopefully he converted to islam

  • Ror

    No matter what wrong we do in life we all has to take responsibility for our actions and pay the penalty, that old saying if you can’t do the time don’t commet the crime. On the spiritual side God loves us all and have mercy on lives and soul and he is a forgiving God, but Got still hold us accountable for what we do. So if has no contact to the outside world that’s his punishment but God still loves him and still can be forgiving for all the wrong he has done, if he haven’t ask forgiveness , all he has to do is ask and God will for give him…but he still has to pay for what he has done.