Reputed drug trafficker found guilty in federal court, could get life term


In a career that spanned two decades, Linwood Rudolph Williams had all the makings of a first-class trophy wall: drug charges, not guilty; machine-gun possession charges, not guilty; drug-related murder charges, not guilty.

Yesterday in U.S. District Court, the government won a trophy of its own. After 13 days of deliberation, a federal court jury found the 36-year-old Williams and six co-defendants guilty in a multiple-count drug conspiracy case built over a year by a drug violence task force.

Williams was found guilty of charges involving conspiracy, drug possession, money laundering and firearms possession. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a mandatory life sentence before Judge Frank A. Kaufman.

The conviction followed by two years Williams' acquittal in Baltimore Circuit Court in a seemingly open-and-shut drug case tried personally by State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms.

In that case, Williams, of the 2000 block of Linden Avenue, fled from a Baltimore police officer during an altercation that followed a Pimlico traffic stop, leaving behind his jacket, his birth certificate and a package of heroin. Two officers later identified Williams from police photos.

Nonetheless, Williams arranged to have a subordinate take the witness stand and claim that the officers were mistaken. Donald "Frog" Nelson told the state court that the drugs belonged to him and that he had wrestled with the officer on Virginia Avenue.

After that jury acquittal, Mr. Simms and other law enforcement officials began the yearlong probe of the Williams organization that resulted in yesterday's verdict.

In the federal case, Donald Nelson was implicated and became a keygovernment witness, testifying before the jury that he had perjured himself in the state case.

The conspiracy case was developed by a Baltimore Homicide Task Force Unit, a group of Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Baltimore homicide detectives, Internal Revenue Service investigators and Baltimore district officers that specializes in pursuing violent drug offenders.

Williams, who has one manslaughter conviction and has been acquitted in two drug murders, is suspected in four Baltimore and Baltimore County murders over the last four years, according to law enforcement sources.

Among them is the 1989 Woodlawn slaying of reputed drug trafficker Glen "Little Glen" Alexander, who police say controlled some of the lucrative drug trade at North Avenue and Pulaski Street and is believed to have been killed after he refused to make his organization subservient to the Williams group.

Williams also remains a suspect in the 1987 shooting death of Curtis "Wimpy" Manns, who was alleged to have been a partner in Williams' drug organization.

Homicide detectives continue to look for leads in those killings.

Acquitted in yesterday's verdict were three of those alleged to be partof the Williams organization, including Williams' wife, Lisa M. Slater; his longtime bodyguard, Robin Bruce; and Darren "Fats" Johnson, a former partner to Mr. Alexander who prosecutors said later began buying drugs from Williams.

Convicted with Williams was his nephew, Namond Williams, who ran a 25th Street car wash and was involved in the daily distribution of the narcotics; Savino Braxton, a sizable westside dealer in his own right who sold narcotics to the Williams group; Harold Debra Harrison, a midlevel dealer with ties to Williams; Sean Andre Wilson and Carvel L. Jones Jr., lieutenants to Namond Williams; and James Williamston, another nephew of Williams.

The federal probe has netted about $500,000 in assets from the group.

Although Williams' temper resulted in multiple contempt citations from Judge Kaufman during the trial, he was the picture of decorum at yesterday's reading of the verdict. He offered little reaction to the result other than to shake hands with and then embrace Mr. Bruce.

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