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Killing of federal witness revealed as trial begins for alleged Baltimore hitmen

Once Guy Coffey’s secret spilled out on the Baltimore streets, he only had months to live, federal prosecutors said.

Coffey, 28, had been working as a police informant, tipping off detectives to crimes by a gang of hit men and drug dealers known as “Trained To Go.”

At least 10 of the alleged gang members were in jail last year on federal charges. But a defense attorney sent one of them a letter with Coffey’s name. The letter leaked out.

Soon, there was a $20,000 bounty on Coffey, and he was shot to death in June.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Gardner told all this to a federal judge in Baltimore last week.

“This was a targeted killing,” Gardner told the judge. “The government was relying heavily on Guy Coffey’s testimony.”

The killing of a federal witness is among the startling revelations in the racketeering case against 10 men accused of running the violent West Baltimore street gang “Trained To Go.”

The scheduled five-week trial for eight of the men begins Monday in federal court in Baltimore. One defendant has pleaded guilty, and another, Roger “Milk” Taylor, remains on the loose.

The 10 were indicted for racketeering and drug trafficking. Federal prosecutors say they murdered, kidnapped, intimidated witnesses and sold drugs — heroin, marijuana, cocaine — in Sandtown-Winchester as far back as 2010.

They murdered 10 people between 2010 and 2016, prosecutors say.

The men all face life in prison. Their defense attorneys all declined to comment or did not return messages.

Brandon “Man Man” Bazemore, who pleaded guilty last month, admitted to being hired by another gang, “Young Go Getters,” to kill Lamont Randall in July 2015. Randall was killed in a quadruple shooting in Poppleton.

Bazemore said “Trained To Go” was paid $10,000 to murder Randall, according to his plea. He is scheduled for sentencing next month.

Last week, federal prosecutors and defense attorneys appeared in court to discuss evidence in the case. Prosecutors are asking the judge to allow them to present Coffey’s testimony.

Coffey had named defendant Taurus “Tash” Tillman as responsible for a murder seven years ago in Harlem Park, prosecutors told the judge.

While Tillman was in jail, his defense attorney sent him a letter about evidence in the case. The letter mentioned Coffey.

Prosecutors told the judge the letter reached the streets.

“The logical conclusion is that Tillman sent that letter to the outside,” Gardner told the judge.

Federal agents urged Coffey to flee Baltimore, but he kept coming back, Gardner said. Meanwhile, he said, agents heard other alleged gang members were hunting Coffey from behind bars.

“This is as violent and dangerous an organization as there is in Baltimore,” Gardner said.

Richard Bardos, Tillman’s defense attorney, declined to discuss the letter with The Baltimore Sun.

Members of “Trained To Go” served as guns for hire by other Baltimore street gangs, including the powerful “Black Guerrilla Family” and the “Young Go Getters,” according to court documents.

One defendant, John "Binkie" Harrison, is accused of participating in a shooting that left three people dead.

Another defendant, Terrell Sivells, is accused of murdering a 34-year-old man who was due in court on drug charges. The victim, Jamie Hilton-Bey, was abducted by masked gunmen, dragged into a van and killed in May 2010, police say.

Defendant Montana Barronette — whom police have described as a deadly gang enforcer — served as one of the crew’s leaders, according to court records. The 23-year-old is accused of at least six killings between July 2015 and May 2016.

Federal agents had wiretapped Barronette’s cellphone as part of the “Trained To Go” investigation, according to court documents.

Barronette has been locked up since August 2016, when he was charged with a 2014 killing. At that time, then-Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called him the city's “No. 1 trigger-puller,” putting him at the top of a list of more than 200 police targets.

Last year, Barronette was mistakenly released from jail. He showed up in Brooklyn, N.Y., to watch Sandtown native Gervonta Davis fight for a boxing title. He was arrested again hours later in Reisterstown.

Kevin Davis has said Barronette terrorized West Baltimore.

"Barronette is very good at his craft,” he said. “His craft is killing.”

The depiction of a hardened killer came in contrast to the image of Barronette as he entered the federal courtroom last week for a hearing before the trial. He smiled and waved and made baby faces to a little girl in the gallery.

tprudente@baltsun.com

twitter.com/Tim_Prudente

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