Double life as drug dealer leads to federal prison

Christian Gettis says he doesn't know why men rushed into his Northeast Baltimore home in late 2010, tied up his wife and shot him multiple times. Federal prosecutors said Friday they suspect it probably had something to do with his heroin ring.

According to his attorney, Gettis, 39, was mentoring young people and working at the West Baltimore clothing store Samos while shielding those close to him — including his wife and a son in college — from the knowledge that he was dealing drugs. Prosecutors showed an image of a colorful day care van, with the inscription "No Child Left Behind," that they say he used to move drugs through the city.

Gettis was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison in an FBI wiretap investigation that grew out of a Washington case involving a murdered federal witness. While agents determined that Gettis was moving significant amounts of drugs between New York and Washington, including areas in Annapolis and Baltimore County, he and his associates were not tied to acts of violence.

The injuries he suffered in the home invasion were significant and almost killed him, said defense attorney Frank Draper, who asked that those injuries be taken into account in his sentencing.

"What you're reading in black and white," Gettis told U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz of the indictment, "is the other side of myself, and doesn't reflect who I am as a person."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Romano said the home invasion was collateral damage from his drug dealing, putting those Gettis cared about at risk.

"The simple fact of the matter is that drug dealing is a dangerous occupation," Romano told Motz. "The government doesn't believe for one moment that it was a random occurrence."

Draper submitted letters of support from relatives and friends, including one written on a University of Maryland, Baltimore County letterhead, which praised Gettis for having a good character and being trustworthy and caring. Draper also said older defendants like Gettis are less likely to break the law again.

Romano responded by noting recent sentencings he oversaw for defendants ages 47 and 67 in the Gilmor Homes conspiracy case.

"In your view, when [is a drug dealer] 'over the hill'?" Motz asked.

"You're over the hill when you get the message," Romano said.

Noting his use of the day care van, Romano said Gettis was "deserving of a significant punishment."

"This is a man who's had every opportunity to correct his behavior, and he hasn't done that," Romano said. "People can write all these letters about his moral character, but his actions demonstrate otherwise."

Also sentenced Friday was Gettis' New Jersey-based supplier, Charles "Billy" Guy, who in 1991 became the first person convicted under Maryland's drug kingpin statute.

The 1991 sentence was later overturned, and he was paroled in 2002. Prosecutors believe he picked up where he left off. Though he had no discernible legitimate income, Guy drove a Porsche and had more than $100,000 in jewelry in his possession when he was arrested last year.

Agents became aware of Gettis while investigating a District of Columbia man named Mark Pray in the killing of a federal witness .

The allegations contained in court documents for Gettis and Guy are sometimes colorful. In May 2010, agents say, Guy left a young relative's community college graduation in New Jersey — before it started — to drive to Baltimore, where he was observed tossing a cellphone out of a moving vehicle. Agents recovered it and began broadening the investigation.

Then in July 2010, agents observed a courier for the organization make a midday drop of heroin from Guy to Gettis in front of the Fogo de Chao restaurant at the Inner Harbor.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad