One after another, 13 of the defendants charged in the last week's East Baltimore drug sweep tried yesterday to persuade a judge to reduce their bail. Most failed, a few succeeded -- and one talked himself into a higher bail.
It was the first court date for some of the 35 people arrested Thursday in Operation Mid-East, the second major drug raid by city police this year. The 35 are charged with selling cocaine, heroin and imitation drugs in the area near the 1800 block of E. Eager St. All had been charged before the raid, and bail had been set ahead of time -- ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.
On their first opportunity to seek release from jail, everyone had a story for Baltimore Circuit Judge Andre M. Davis.
Alonzo Thomas, 26, of the 3600 block of Roberts Place, acknowledged that he had a drug problem. He blamed his plight on his inability to read.
"I've had a reading problem all my life. My mother can barely read herself," Mr. Thomas said. "So I wasn't able to get a job. The only job I could get was through my father. I know I'm wrong. I know . . . "
Judge Davis interrupted, "Don't incriminate yourself."
Mr. Thomas pleaded with the judge to "go easy on me."
"My girl was pulling me away from the streets," he said. "Every time I went out there, she was pulling me away."
Said the judge, "She didn't pull you hard enough."
Bail remained at $250,000.
Kelvin Brown, 30, of the 800 block of N. Chapel St., had better luck.
He said that although he was charged with four drug offenses, he didn't need the $250,000 bail to ensure his appearance in court. The pretrial services officer described him as a person of "excellent stability" who supports his five children.
"I'd like to say I have a wife and five kids, and I have a mother who is on dialysis three times a week," Mr. Brown began. "I don't feel it's necessary to bury me at the city jail under the red tape of a high bail I can't pay. If given a chance, I know I can show up in court on my own."
The judge, who had flatly rejected the bail-reduction requests of several "Mid-East" defendants ahead of him, listened.
Mr. Brown continued, "I only have one or two things on my record, a mild fight with my fiancee, which we all have."
That's when Judge Davis interrupted, his calm turning to anger.
"No! No. That's not so," he said. "They are not mild fights and not everybody has them."
Anxious to get back into the judge's good graces, Mr. Brown said he was a "God-fearing man and a religious man" and again promised to appear for his next court date.
His bail was reduced to $150,000.
Dallas Glover, 29, of the 2000 block of E. Baltimore St., also had his bail reduced from $250,000 to $100,000 -- but it won't matter.
At the time of his arrest, he was on parole for a robbery and weapons case. He frowned as the judge told him that his parole is likely to be revoked once corrections officials are alerted to his arrest.
Then there was Shawn Lewis, 28, of the 800 block of N. Collington St. On probation for another drug charge, he started out with a $50,000 bail, which he complained was too high.
Judge Davis scanned the file and focused on the probation.
"I think your bail should be increased, sir," he said before tripling the bail to $150,000.
Thirteen of those arrested last Thursday were juveniles, including a 17-year-old who appeared with the adults yesterday after apparently giving police a date of birth that indicated he was 18. He was sent to juvenile officials.
Operation Mid-East targeted 104 people on drug charges. The crackdown followed the March "Operation Midway" raid of neighborhoods bordering Greenmount Avenue.