District residents will be asked whether one of its most notorious drug lords should have his sentence reviewed after decades in prison.
D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) announced May 30 that his office has been appointed by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Emmett G. Sullivan to represent the views of the community concerning Rayful Edmond III, who managed the largest cocaine ring in the city in the 1980s, and the possibility of him having his sentence revisited and returning to the District.
As a result of this request — a first for the D.C. attorney general’s office — public solicitation on Edmond’s possible homecoming has commenced.
“This is a significant and unique opportunity for District residents to be heard in the adult criminal justice system, where we often don’t have a voice,” Racine said, noting that the development took place in the face of rising debate over the District becoming a state and managing its own affairs.
“This is a historic step for District autonomy,” he said. “For the first time, a federal judge has enlisted the Office of Attorney General to obtain information about the community’s view for sentencing in an adult criminal case.”
Edmond has been credited by law enforcement for introducing on a large scale crack cocaine to the District and surrounding areas. He brought 1,000 to 2,000 kilos of cocaine to the District weekly during the 1980s and he generated $300 million annually.
Edmond’s actions created an atmosphere during the 1980s in which the District became known nationally as the “murder capital of the United States” and at one point, his operation employed about 150 people. Known for its ruthless tactics, Edmond’s organization has been blamed for the deaths of 30 people by law enforcement officials.
However, District street lore has stories of Edmond helping people to pay rent and providing food for the holidays. Edmond had a reputation as a dapper dresser, being a constant customer at chic Georgetown clothing stores.
A passionate fan of the Georgetown University men’s basketball program, Edmond attended games. But in a highly publicized incident, Georgetown University men’s basketball coach John Thompson requested, in very strong terms, that Edmond stay away from his program and particularly two of his key players, John Turner and Alonzo Mourning.
Edmond’s arrest took place on April 15, 1989. The security surrounding his trial became extraordinary with jurors’ names kept secret and they remained under bullet-proof glass during the proceedings.
Edmond stayed at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Va., and flown daily by helicopter to the federal courthouse for the proceedings. Eventually, Edmond got convicted on a wide range of charges, chief being running a continuing criminal enterprise and conspiracies to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine and more than 50 grams of cocaine base.
On Sept. 17, 1990, Edmond received multiple sentences of life without parole as well as terms defined in months for the other offenses.
Edmond served some time in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania but got in trouble conducting business for his criminal enterprise in 1996 using the telephone and received an extra 30 months for that.
Eventually, Edmond became a government informant. Racine said Edmond became helpful as a cooperating government witness in providing information and substantial assistance on criminal suspects and activities.
“Because of his cooperation, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia has requested that Rule 35, the reduction of sentence, for Mr. Edmond,” Racine said.
Under federal law, Sullivan has the power to reduce Edmond’s sentence.
Racine said Sullivan then bought the city’s attorney general into the process by appointing it as an “amicus curiae” or “friend of the court” for resident solicitation.
The D.C. attorney general prosecutes juvenile cases and some adult misdemeanors in the city, while the District’s U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutes most adult criminal charges, including felonies.
District residents will be able to express their views on Edmond’s possible release on June 13 at the Old Council Chambers (441 4th Street NW) from 6-9 p.m.; June 15 at Martha Table’s (2375 Elvans Road SE) from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. and June 29 at the Franklin D. Reeves Center (2000 14th Street NW) from 1-3 p.m.
“We selected these sites for the listening sessions from different areas of town by factors such as access to public transit and whether the venue can accommodate large crowds,” Racine said. “People can also communicate to us by email and we have trained operators on a telephone line and of course, ‘snail’ mail. We want all parts of the community to be heard.”
Residents can go to www.RayfulEdmondFeedback.com for more information. Racine said his office will submit a brief to Sullivan reflecting the community’s views by Aug. 30.