A former Baltimore Safe Streets anti-violence worker pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to a federal drug conspiracy charge in which he was accused of exploiting his position to deal drugs.
Ronald L. Alexander, 51, will face between 11 and 13 years in prison if the judge accepts his plea. Federal authorities said Alexander twice last year used his ties to Safe Streets to avoid trouble with law enforcement, including telling police who seized 100 grams of fentanyl from his vehicle that he had taken the drugs from a community member. But authorities were conducting a wiretap investigation, and listening as he arranged deals.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner said in a statement Monday that Alexander “shamefully used his employment with Safe Streets to evade law enforcement and avoid arrest when caught with fentanyl.”
“Alexander had the opportunity to uplift his community but instead chose to pollute it with deadly narcotics that he sold to benefit only himself,” Lenzner said.
Alexander was charged last August, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew DellaBetta told the court that the case began with an investigation into smuggling at the city’s federal jail.
No new details have emerged about that part of the probe, but the case has since grown to include five defendants. Among them was Thomas Corey Crosby, who had been working as a house manager at the Gaudenzia drug treatment center and pleaded guilty in March. Crosby received 10 years in federal prison. The other defendants are pending trial.
Safe Streets is a program run through the city’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement that employs ex-offenders to use their street credibility and experiences to mediate conflicts and reduce violence. The program’s employees explicitly do not work with police or share information, as part of offering a safe space for people who may be engaged in crime. The goal is to reduce violence. The outreach workers are instructed to steer clear of crime themselves.
Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in 2002 after being convicted on drug conspiracy charges, court records show. He was released in 2017.
While Alexander allegedly said Safe Streets helped him avoid law enforcement, others have said that police have targeted the program’s employees in the past.
Safe Streets’ Cherry Hill recently celebrated a year with a homicide in its area, and the program could be expanding to additional neighborhoods.