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Baltimore man connected to Black Guerrilla Family pleads guilty to 2017 killing

A Baltimore man prosecutors say is connected to the Black Guerrilla Family gang pleaded guilty to killing a man in the Belair-Edison neighborhood in 2017, admitting that his death was in connection to drug distribution.

Jonathan Edges pleaded guilty to the federal charge of “discharge of a firearm resulting in death during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime” in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in the shooting death of 31-year-old George Cookson. Edges signed the plea agreement on March 21 and it was entered into court files March 27.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in an email that Edges faces up to life in prison on the firearms charge and that no date has been set for sentencing.

An attorney for Edges did not return a call for comment.

Edges also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine, for which he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Cookson was found shot multiple times inside a vacant house in the 1400 block of Popland St. on Jan. 19, 2017. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Edges was one of two men originally charged with Cookson’s death.

However, prosecutors have requested that the “discharge of a firearm” charge filed against co-defendant Marquise McCants be dropped since Edges’ plea, court records show.

Prosecutors wrote that the firearms and a drug conspiracy charge against McCants should be dismissed because attorneys intend “to present evidence pertaining to those counts” prior to his sentencing in another federal racketeering case. McCants was found guilty of racketeering, drug distribution and illegal possession of a firearm in Jan. 2018, court records show.

According to Edges’ plea agreement, he “did not cause the death of (Cookson) intentionally or knowingly” and was a “minor participant,” meaning federal prosecutors believe is is less culpable than others.

Edges and McCants are linked to a larger investigation into the Black Guerrilla Family gang, as multiple people have been charged or pleaded guilty to selling heroin, cocaine and fentanyl in the city and Anne Arundel County.

According to a plea agreement signed by James Hair — who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal drug charges last month — the FBI seized McCants’ phone on Feb. 5, 2017.

The bureau was investigating Deandre Dorsey, “a heroin distributor and member of the Black Guerrilla Family gang,” the plea agreement reads, and found text messages between McCants and Hair. Dorsey had spoken with Hair several times about needing firearms and drugs to sell, the agreement reads.

In total, prosecutors have charged at least a dozen people related to Dorsey, and court documents show federal investigators intercepted phone calls and obtained wiretaps in 2017 to build their case.

Edges was originally charged with harboring McCants after a warrant was issued for his arrest, but the charge was dropped as part of the agreement.

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