This is the second part of a two-part article. Read part one.
In his room on the 19th floor of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago, Andre Williams had a dream:
The jury was returning with its verdict. The spectator benches in the courtroom were jammed with family, friends, even celebrities--Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur--all rooting for Andre and his 18 codefendants, who'd been charged with running a multimillion-dollar drug operation on the 2700 block of West Flournoy. The foreperson handed the verdict to the marshal, who handed it to the judge, and the judge read: Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. The supporters leaped to their feet cheering. Michael Jackson pumped a fist in the air.
It was a recurring dream for the 25-year-old Moosehead. A few details would change, but the verdict was always the same.
Many of Andre's less fanciful codefendants in the conspiracy and racketeering case were having nightmares. "They saying the jury gonna find us guilty, and it gonna be bogus, and ain't everybody going home," Andre told me in March 1996. But Andre's confidence didn't waver. He and his brother Tyrone were at a victory party in one of the dreams, kinfolk hugging them, pounding them on their backs, everyone crying. "I don't think about nothing but going home and being with my kids and my family again," Andre said.
When talking with me before and during the trial, Andre didn't deny that he'd been involved in the drug dealing on Flournoy. And he believed some punishment for what he'd done was appropriate, but not the sentence the feds had dangling over his head. He had two prior convictions, both for drug cases. He'd pleaded guilty to both charges on the same day in 1989 and been sentenced to probation, so he'd never been to prison. But a conviction in this case would send him away for life with no parole. Most of his codefendants were in the same boat. "When a person come into jail it don't take him long to see that the things they done were wrong," Andre told me. "But they gonna give you a lifetime to think about it."
The life sentences the defendants faced were mandated by one of those federal "three strikes, you're out" laws designed for recalcitrants like Andre. Yet Andre--diagnosed as a youth as educable mentally handicapped, the youngest in a family consumed by narcotics--had been born with two strikes against him and another ball halfway across the plate. The best-dressed young men in his neighborhood had been the dealers on the corners--the ones that just sold and didn't use. "That attracted my attention," he told me. "I thought it'd be nice to have those clothes. My mama couldn't get them for me, and my father couldn't get them for me. I thought I had to get them for myself."
He added, "I ain't saying that was right to be selling drugs. I know that was wrong. But I can't take that back. It's dead and gone now."
March 11, 1996: For two weeks Bob Drozd, who'd pretended to be a corrupt cop as he tape-recorded the dealers on Flournoy, had described with certainty the crimes the defendants had committed. Now on cross-examination he was mystified by the plainest of questions. His memory had been sharp on direct; now he couldn't remember a thing without referring to his reports or to the transcripts of the tapes. "I don't recall" became his favorite response, followed closely by "You got me all confused here" or some variation.
Any witness would be foolish not to have his guard up during cross-examination. And a platoon of defense attorneys was aiming for Drozd's throat. "I had 19 lawyers pounding my ass," he told me later. "When you make a little mistake they're on you like piranha."
But Drozd handled even softball questions like hand grenades, aggravating not just defense attorneys but the almost unflappable Judge Robert Gettleman. "The man could not answer a simple question yes or no, no matter how many times you told him to do it," Gettleman would grumble to prosecutors in a sidebar later in the trial. "He was one of the most difficult witnesses I've ever seen on the stand in all of my experience as a lawyer and a judge."
Other officers have been known to "testi-lie," as they sometimes call it, to win a case, but Drozd told me later that he would never varnish the facts on the stand, even a little bit. "When you lie it's gonna catch up to you," he said. "'Cause some lies you just can't remember." Testifying on cross-examination in this case was "easy," he said, even with the bloodthirsty defense lawyers, "'cause all I did was tell the truth. You get no problems telling the truth."
Steve Eberhardt, a former suburban cop who was representing defendant Terry Patterson, led off for the defense, peppering Drozd with questions about the beginning of the investigation. It had all started on July 14, 1991, according to Drozd's earlier testimony, when one of the defendants offered him a gun for the first time. But Eberhardt pointed out that reports made it clear the feds and Chicago gang-crimes cops had been investigating drug dealing by Traveling Vice Lords in the Flournoy-California neighborhood as early as April '91. Drozd acknowledged that there had been another investigation but maintained he hadn't known anything about it when he started his investigation. Eberhardt also pointed out that Drozd's report about the July 14 gun bribe had called it part of "an ongoing investigation into the illegal activities of the Traveling Vice Lords." Drozd testified that he'd called it ongoing because it would continue, because no one had been arrested that day.
Eberhardt asked Drozd if he'd recorded any tapes before July 14, 1991.
"For this case, no," Drozd said.
"For another case maybe?"
"Not that I'm aware of."
Drozd had testified on direct examination that his first conversation with Eberhardt's client, Terry Patterson, had been on July 25. But when Eberhardt asked him about this, he began hedging.
"You had no tape recordings or conversations with Terry Patterson between the 14th and the 25th of July in '91, correct?" Eberhardt asked.
"That I know of, yes sir," Drozd replied.
"Is there somebody else that would know of conversations that you had with Terry Patterson?"
"Are you referring to this date or another date?"
"I am referring to 7-25-91," an exasperated Eberhardt said. "Is that the first time that you had a tape-recorded conversation with Terry Patterson?"
"That I remember, yes sir."
"Could there have been others that you don't remember?"
"In this investigation?"
"No. I would remember."
Eberhardt told me after the trial that Drozd had been "absolutely masterful--the most creative user of words that I have ever cross-examined. He knows that lawyers are generally not very patient and that if he dragged his answer out and screwed it up a little bit, half the time they wouldn't get an answer to the question they asked." Eberhardt said he was "appalled" at the number of defense lawyers who followed Drozd down a path, never to return to the points they'd been trying to make.
Drozd's first words to Terry Patterson in what Drozd said was his first conversation in the investigation with him were "Listen, now, remember the conversation we had before," to which Patterson replied, "Uh-hum."
Eberhardt asked Drozd, "Three times in this tape you tell him, 'Remember we rapped before,' right?"
"You never talked to him before, did you?"
"It sounds like and it looks like he is agreeing with you that you talked before, right?" Eberhardt asked.
Eberhardt also suggested that Drozd had made other tapes that he hadn't produced, and Drozd's own reports seemed to support that theory. Eberhardt pointed out that at the bottom of each report was a line headed "Tape/index number." The report for July 19 referred to tape one, and the references in reports to tapes were sequential from there on. But the report about the July 14 bribe referred to a "Tape 30."
"Where is tape number 30 that you made on July 14, 1991?" Eberhardt asked.
Drozd studied the July 14 report. He seemed flustered when he looked up. "There, there is none, sir, for that case report at that time."
"Officer, where are tape numbers 1 through 30 that this report references?"
"This had to be a mistake on that tape 30 on that report, sir," Drozd said, "because I have no knowledge of other tapes you're talking about."
There were no other tapes, prosecutor Kathleen Murdock assured Judge Gettleman and defense attorneys in a sidebar two days later. "Tape 30," she explained, was a reference to a tape recorded on December 27, 1991, on which Thane Martin admitted his involvement in the delivery of the shotgun to Drozd on July 14.
But as Eberhardt pointed out, Drozd had testified that the report about the July 14 incident was prepared that evening. So how could he have referred in it to a tape that wasn't recorded until five months later?
Judge Gettleman now wondered if there were other versions of Drozd's reports that hadn't been produced as evidence. Two days later prosecutors turned over a batch of original reports to the defense lawyers. The prosecutors hadn't known of the existence of these reports before, Murdock assured Gettleman. They'd been located not in Chicago police files or ATF files, but in the files of the FBI, which had assisted in the early stages of the investigation.
As defense lawyers quickly noted, there were discrepancies between the original reports and the final ones: the identity of a person alleged to have given Drozd a bribe on a particular date was "unknown" in some originals but a specific defendant in the final version; other times the person identified in the original report was different from the person named in the final; the original report for July 25, 1991, listed two people as participating in a bribe, while the final report listed six. The final reports had the same date and time of submission as the originals, and there was no indication on the finals that they'd been revised.
Eberhardt moved for a mistrial in another sidebar. Gettleman denied the motion but told prosecutors he found it "very disturbing...to see two different versions of an important document like this," and said he was troubled as well by the "very, very late production" of the reports.
On redirect examination Drozd would explain that he and his main partner, Dennis Maderak, had revised the reports after listening to the tapes "to make sure the jury had an accurate and correct copy of the case report and the truth." But defense attorneys asserted that no one was quarreling with the officers' right to revise their reports--that it was the attempt to hide this process of revision that was disturbing.
The prosecutors themselves weren't thrilled with their star witness when they discovered the originals, Murdock told me after the trial. Drozd's failure to make prosecutors aware of the originals, she said, exposed the government to defense arguments "that not just the witness but the government was hiding evidence." The original reports "should have been turned over prior to the start of trial," she said, and she conceded that the backdating of the reports "was not good police practice."
The dating of the final reports "was a mistake," Drozd testified in answer to defense attorneys' questions. "It's not that I was hiding anything or nobody was hiding anything."
"When you prepare a set of draft reports, as you call them, and then prepare new reports on a different date and backdate those reports, would you say that was a lie or a mistake?" asked Alex Salerno, Andrew "Bay-Bay" Patterson's lawyer.
Drozd: "It was a mistake, sir."
The final reports were actually typed up by Maderak, Drozd would tell Salerno. Drozd allowed that he'd reviewed and approved the reports, but "I really didn't look at the date then, to be honest with you."
Defense attorney Carl Clavelli wondered if Drozd had hidden the original reports and backdated the finals "to conceal the fact that you made many, many errors in your initial investigation?"
Drozd: "No sir. No sir....I didn't hide no reports....I don't recall what my partner did with them."
Clavelli: "Did he throw them in the garbage?"
Drozd: "I don't think he threw them in the garbage. I don't know."
Defense attorney Gary Ravitz: "Wasn't it your intent that these preliminary police reports never see the light of day?"
Drozd: "No sir."
Drozd was also asked why he didn't tell assistant U.S. attorney Diane Saltoun about the original reports in his many meetings with her in preparation for his testimony. "I'll be honest with you," Drozd said. "I forgot all about it."
Andre's roommate left the MCC in late February '96, and to Andre's great satisfaction, his brother Tyrone was the assigned replacement. He and Tyrone had always been close, Andre told me, but now in their bunk beds at night they talked more than ever--about the case, about old times.
Andre had a job now. He was the "night orderly" on his floor, cleaning up the little eating area in his unit after everybody else had turned in--scrubbing the sink, wiping down the microwave and ice machine, sweeping and mopping the floor. The chore took only half an hour, and he looked forward to it. "It's something to keep me going," he said. "Just sitting around doing nothing in here don't feel right." He'd shower when he was done, then retire to his room, climb up to the top bunk, lie down, and chat with Tyrone a while, drifting off to his brother's comforting drone. It was often several minutes before Tyrone realized that Andre was asleep. Then he'd get up and turn off the lights. Andre would wake up the next morning around five, when the medic came in to give an insulin shot to Tyrone, who's diabetic.
Andre's days were consistent and predictable, more than they'd ever been in his life--a fact he might have appreciated but for the overriding awareness that the routine was not of his choosing. "Long as we got these on," he told me one morning, touching a thumb to his orange jumpsuit, "gotta go by whatever they say. You don't own yourself no more. The government own you now."
In the MCC Andre continued to perform his main role in life, as he'd always seen it: chasing gloom away with a joke or a goofy face. "This place here is just like a Roach Motel," he'd tell a fellow inmate. "Check in, you never gonna check out." There was no lack of people who needed their spirits boosted: if a guy wasn't worried about his case, he was fretting about his girlfriend "breaking bad," as it was called. "Places like this will drive a guy crazy, thinking about their woman all the time, what they doing out there in the world," Andre said. He'd had his concerns about his own girlfriend, Paulette, but he'd trained himself to bury such thoughts as soon as they popped into his mind. "You in here, they out there, you can't do nothing. So I don't even think about it like I used to. I just--stay happy. They always say, 'Don't ever let 'em see you sweat.'"
March 14, 1996: In his cross-examination of Drozd, Andre's lawyer, Ron Clark, ignored the many tapes on which Andre could be heard arranging a gun delivery to the officer and on which he blathered on about the drug operation. Clark focused instead on the times Drozd couldn't contain his mouth.
"You don't know these shmiggers like I do," Drozd had told his partner Maderak once while the recorder was running.
Pressed by Clark about that comment, Drozd allowed that he'd said "shmiggers" to avoid saying "niggers."
"What did you mean by 'shmiggers'?" Clark asked.
"I use the word very seldom," Drozd responded. "It's just like calling somebody an asshole to me."
"Then you were calling the people that were here in the street assholes, and you used the word 'shmigger' instead?"
Another time Drozd and his partners were discussing a necklace one of the defendants was wearing. "That ain't real gold," Drozd had said. "That's monkey gold with polish on it."
Clark asked Drozd, "'Monkey gold' is a racial term, isn't it?"
"No sir," Drozd replied, scowling. He explained that "monkey gold" was simply a street term meaning "fake gold."
Clark asked Drozd why he once told defendant Charlie Edwards that Edwards was "a white man's name."
"I just related to him that I...knew more white persons with the name Edwards than black persons," Drozd explained.
Clark showed the jury a photo of the tattoo on Drozd's right hand. The size and shape of a half dollar, it's located between the base of his thumb and forefinger on the back of his hand. Whatever it was intended to be, it's too faded and indistinct now to tell. Drozd told Clark it was "a smiling face"; Clark thought he saw a swastika.
Bay-Bay apparently had seen it as a supremacist symbol as well. "What that tattoo mean, Bob?" he asked Drozd on one of the tapes.
"KKK all the way," Drozd replied.
"Man, you a Ku Klux Klan man, Bob?"
"Always been....Hey, Bay-Bay, what's wrong with that? You got your club, I got my club."
On the stand Drozd told Clark that a friend had put the tattoo on him in a park "40-something years ago. And I didn't have 'KKK' in my mind then, and I don't have it now."
"What did you mean by 'KKK all the way'?" Clark asked.
"I was just using the street talk," Drozd said.
Drozd was sipping coffee in the hallway during the break. I'd heard Judge Gettleman instruct him repeatedly not to discuss anything about the case with anyone while he was still testifying. He couldn't even talk with prosecutors about the case now that he was on cross-examination.
I asked him if, as a native south-sider, he'd grown up a White Sox fan. He said he had, and we began naming Sox players from years past.
"Remember Luis Aparicio?" he said.
"And Nellie Fox?" I said.
"And Jungle Jim Rivera?" he said. Then he frowned. "I better watch that, saying 'Jungle.' I say it in there, I could get in trouble." He went on, "See, I'm here to tell the truth, and that's what I'm doing. If they thought I was KKK, you think they'd be giving me guns? Then I'd be using them to kill their people. See what I mean?"
After the trial was over Drozd would tell me it irked him that defense lawyers insinuated he was racist. "I never had an attitude against black people. I very seldom used the word N, even when I was on the street. I used it, yes, I used it. But my gosh, if I said I didn't I'd be a fool. I mean, I'm sure 99 percent of the people use it every day. The blacks call us 'turkey' and 'boy'--constantly, everywhere you go. It's not a big deal to us--maybe because of the way our temperament is."
Clark had informed Judge Gettleman before court began this day that death was imminent for Andre's mother, Glo Williams. "It's a basic failure of most of her bodily functions," Clark had told the judge in his chambers, according to transcripts. "I can tell your honor that she was a drug addict for years and years and years."
Clark and Bradley Harris, the lawyer for Andre's brother Tyrone, had wanted to know if their clients could either visit Glo in the hospital before she died or attend her wake or funeral afterward. Prosecutor Murdock, who'd also been in the judge's chambers, had said that Glo Williams's condition was "a very unfortunate situation" for Andre and Tyrone, but that such visits posed "a major security problem and a major logistical problem for the U.S. Marshal's Service." Gettleman had promised Clark and Harris he'd make a decision on their request soon.
During the afternoon recess Gettleman met again with Clark, Harris, and Murdock in his chambers. The judge said that for security reasons the chief marshal opposed letting Andre and Tyrone visit their mother in the hospital. Such a visit would require six marshals, the chief marshal had told Gettleman, and the defendants would have to pay for this--at least $1,000.
"There is no way they can come up with the money," Clark told the judge.
"Well, if it's true they have to pay the money, then that might be the default answer here," Gettleman said.
"You could order them to do it," Clark suggested.
Gettleman said he wouldn't do that, but he would consider allowing them to at least see their mother's body after she died.
While Andre's and Tyrone's lawyers were speaking with Gettleman in his chambers, their three sisters stood in the hallway outside the courtroom, discussing the funeral they believed was imminent.
"She wasn't getting no aid, just stamps, so aid ain't gonna pay for the funeral," the oldest sister, Denise, told me. "We gonna have to start collecting soon."
Eight years before, the three women had passed the hat in the neighborhood after their 18-year-old sister, Laverne, perished in a fire on Flournoy. The blaze was ignited by a faulty space heater Laverne was relying on to heat her bedroom. Denise went sleepless for days after Laverne's death--until a friend persuaded her to snort a little heroin to bring on drowsiness. A little became more; soon she'd lost her job and was selling bags on Flournoy to support her habit. One Sunday morning in '93 the customer she sold a rock to turned out to be an undercover cop. She was standing almost directly across the street from the building Laverne had died in when the handcuffs were clicked on. Now she was on probation for that offense.
Denise's oldest son, Lacy, had been shot to death a block from Flournoy on the Fourth of July 1994. The 19-year-old had been sitting on a motor scooter when someone pulled up in a car and began firing. If he hadn't been killed he probably would have been sitting at one of the defense tables inside the courtroom; he'd taken up the line of work of his mother and his uncles and many of his friends, and Drozd had him on tape. Though Lacy likely would have been caught, his killer hasn't been. A homicide detective who works in the area told me in '94 that in a neighborhood where murder isn't rare, Lacy's wasn't going to command much attention.
When Lacy died Tyrone, Bay-Bay, and some of the neighborhood's other dealers covered the $5,700 funeral bill. Now Denise and her sisters were going to have to go collecting again.
The youngest sister, Lavette, who was resting against the wall on the far side of the hallway, seemed annoyed by her sisters' talk about a funeral and its costs. "Mama coming home," she insisted. "She coming home." Then she marched off down the hallway. Denise and the other sister, Dovie, looked at each other, eyes glistening.
March 17, 1996: Tyrone called Andre into their room in the evening to tell him of their mother's death. One of their sisters had just called Tyrone. The brothers sat in the room and cried together. They talked about what a good mother she'd been--and how much better she could have been if not for her habit. They shook their heads at the memory of the many times Tyrone, Glo's oldest, had tried to talk her into entering a rehab program.
Tyrone left the room after a while, and Andre was alone with his thoughts. His father had died on New Year's Eve. Now his mother had died, and the government was trying to lock him up for life. He hadn't been permitted to attend his father's funeral; maybe they'd at least let him go to his mother's. He couldn't understand why he and Tyrone hadn't been allowed to see their mother in the hospital. "Ain't nothing wrong with letting a person go see his mama when she on her deathbed," he told me later. "Ain't like we was gonna run. I never ran from nothing in my life. That ain't what I'm about."
He ventured out to the common area later, but mostly just stared at the TV. A codefendant who'd heard about Glo's death, Odell Sumrell, took Andre back into a room and prayed with him.
March 19, 1996: Gettleman, who'd already informed Andre's and Tyrone's lawyers that their clients wouldn't be allowed to attend their mother's funeral, met with the lawyers again in his chambers. He'd talked to the marshals about whether the brothers could be allowed to at least see their mother's body privately. "And as a human being it hurts me to conclude, as I have to, I believe, that I can't let them go," he told the lawyers. "I have to defer to the security judgments of people who are officers of this court and whose job it is to handle such things....I'm sorry. Please let them know I'm sorry too."
Judith Scully, who represented Henry "Bud" Patterson, began her cross-examination of Drozd this afternoon. Through most of August 1991 Bud had resisted Drozd's pressure for bribes--to the officer's mounting aggravation, Scully suggested. That August 21, according to a Drozd report, Bud promised a gun but failed to show up at the assigned hour. On the 22nd Bud responded to Drozd's overtures for a bribe by leaving the neighborhood.
Drozd had testified on direct that when he pulled up on Flournoy on the evening of the 23rd he spotted Bud running through a gangway. When he got out of his car and approached Bud, Drozd had told the jury, Bud "started yelling and screaming, and I told him to calm down, relax, and he started mumbling all kinds of words, started swearing. I says, 'Don't--stop,' because all kinds of people were coming out of the houses, and I said, 'If you don't stop,' I says, 'you're going to have to go.' He kept yelling, so we placed him under arrest." He was charged with disorderly conduct.
But, Scully pointed out, the arrest report written by Drozd's partners that evening said nothing about Bud running, yelling, or screaming, or about him attracting a crowd. It simply accused Patterson of "loitering in an area where illegal drug activity has occurred." Bud was released from jail later that evening. Two days later, according to tapes and Drozd's testimony, Bud directed Drozd to two guns in an abandoned car near Flournoy.
"Isn't it true, Officer Drozd, that you arrested Bud Patterson in retaliation for his failure to give you bribes on August 21, August 22, and August 23?" Scully asked.
"No ma'am," Drozd said.
"Isn't it true that you arrested him because he expressed absolutely no interest in giving you a bribe on those days?"
"Well, was it a coincidence, Officer Drozd, that the day after Bud Patterson is released from this alleged disorderly conduct charge that he directs you to two guns in an abandoned car? Is that a coincidence?"
"Well, those guns that you received on August 25, they weren't given to you in order to get you off the dope stroll, were they?"
"To turn my back," Drozd said.
"They were given to you as a direct result of the fact that you had arrested Bud Patterson for no reason at all, isn't that true, Officer Drozd?"
According to Drozd's original report about the guns Bud gave him on the 25th, he first received a page that evening with a phone number and the code "2725," which he recognized as the address of the Patterson house. He or his partner then called the phone number and spoke with Bud, who said he had two guns for the officers. But the final report about the incident stated, "Rather than call the number left by Patterson, R/Os [reporting officers] proceeded to 2715 W. Flournoy where we were met by Henry Patterson."
The original report, Drozd told Scully, "reflects a mistake."
"It's a lot of mistakes on this case, isn't there, officer?" Scully asked.
"In regards to dates?"
"Just a lot of mistakes."
"Yes ma'am," Drozd said. "Nineteen of 'em."
March 22, 1996: The chapel on Roosevelt Road near Kedzie was filled for the "home-going" service for Glo Williams. A big family had grown under her in her 53 years. She'd delivered her first child at 15, and her four daughters all had had their first babies by 15; so she had left 32 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, along with the 7 children of her own who were still living.
She lay in a white casket in a mirrored, arched alcove at the front of the chapel, clad in a white dress, a rosary draped over her breasts. The mortician had restored some fullness to her face, but her body was a tiny, shrunken version of what it had been a few years earlier, before her heroin use had started climbing again.
"I believe that mama cried out to the Lord for forgiveness for her sins," a daughter-in-law, Rosetta Williams, told the assembled early in the service. "She's going home." Then she sang, "Sometimes...I can hardly see the road....I ask you a question, Lord--why so much pain?"
The wails of Andre's sister Lavette interrupted the song--deep, uncontrolled, inconsolable cries. "Why'd you leave me, mama? Why'd you leave me?"
Babies heard the wailing and joined in. Women gathered around Lavette, rubbing her back and arms, but it failed to quiet her; she had to be helped out of the room before the service could continue.
The Reverend B.L. Minor delivered the eulogy. He'd delivered the eulogy when Lavette's twin Laverne had died in '88. As he had then, he reminded the people on the red-cushioned pews that death was approaching for everyone. "Where you're sitting now--you're dying. It doesn't matter how good you feel. Or how well off you are. Or what kind of car you drive. What kind of house you live in. You're on your way to the graveyard." He bade the assembled to "get saved" before it was too late.
The people in the chapel didn't really need another reminder of their mortality. Sitting a few rows from the front on the right was Andre's nephew Calvin, whose brother had been gunned down on the Fourth of July in 1994. Right behind him were Andre's 11-year-old nephew Derrick and his 9-year-old niece Delenna--their faces disfigured from the fire that had taken their mother Laverne eight years before. Delenna had also been shot four years ago in a south-side gangway by one drug dealer who meant to hit another. In the front row on the right, with Andre's sister Dovie, was her husband Pete; his brother Roosevelt, 40, was dying of the HIV infection he got from his IV drug use. Roosevelt had been busted in Operation Flournoy and would spend his final days in a federal facility; he died a few weeks after the trial ended. A young friend of the family who was mourning Glo's death would be run over and killed a month later by a drunk driver a few blocks east of the chapel.
Glo Williams was headed for a place where "there's no more sickness," Reverend Minor promised. "There's no more death. There's no more sorrow. There's no more grief. There's no more drive-by shootings. The drug dealer ain't on the corner over there. There's peace in the valley. Sun never go down. There's always hi and never good-bye."
The funeral director slipped a red carnation into the casket before pulling down the cover.
Andre told me that at the trial his mind wandered from the continuing cross-examination of Drozd to his mother's death and the funeral he hadn't been allowed to attend. At the MCC he was a humorless lump. "Everybody knew something was wrong, 'cause I wasn't playing like I usually am. Couldn't nobody do much to cheer me up. See, I do all the cheering up around here."
Andre always insisted that his mother and father had been good parents to him. But the fact was neither of them had visited him even once after he'd been locked up. "My mama, she ain't never really liked visiting jails, so I knew what time it was with that. My dad, he woulda come see me, but he didn't get a chance to." Andre knew going to their funerals wouldn't have changed anything. "I just wanted to see both of 'em for the last time, that's all."
April 2, 1996: Defense attorney John Meyer, Gregory Hubbard's lawyer, plodded through the transcripts of the tapes with Drozd, identifying people who'd implicated themselves on tape during the investigation as workers on Flournoy but who hadn't been indicted in this case. The prosecutors objected that this was irrelevant to the innocence or guilt of the defendants, but Gettleman allowed Meyer to proceed. Meyer identified more than two dozen workers who hadn't been indicted and pointed out that many more speakers on the tapes who also seemed to be involved in the dealing were never identified. In a sidebar during the questioning Judge Gettleman referred to "this broad conspiracy that seems to encompass the entire neighborhood, from what I can tell. Allegedly."
Meyer wanted to highlight the arbitrariness of who ended up a defendant in federal court. "I'd guess there were probably 100 or 200 individuals who worked at that particular spot over the four years," he told me later. "I wanted the jury to think, look at this poor sap who's facing horrendous punishment because he happened to be around when Drozd drove up." Whether or not that point was persuasive, Meyer's cross-examination established one thing: Had the government chosen to prosecute everyone who was dealing on Flournoy, it would have needed several more courtrooms.
This was Drozd's 18th day on the stand--and nine defense attorneys had yet to cross-examine him. The defense lawyers huddled in the hallway during breaks in the trial, speculating about where Drozd would rank on the list for longest sessions on the stand in the history of the Dirksen courthouse. The consensus had him in the top five.
The trial would be entering its third month in a few days, and the lawyers on both sides were getting weary. Many of the defense attorneys had had to postpone or decline other cases. The three prosecutors, meantime, had been working 90 hours a week since the trial began. Murdock said later that "total physical exhaustion" was setting in.
Prosecutors and defense counsel fought in the courtroom, but in the hallway during breaks they commiserated about the way the trial was intruding on their personal and professional lives. Murdock had planned a trek in Nepal for late April or early May; she'd canceled it when it became clear the trial wouldn't conclude before monsoon season. Andre's lawyer, Ron Clark, was worrying about the holiday in Brazil he'd scheduled for early June.
Judge Gettleman was flying to Europe the second week of June whether the trial was over or not, he'd informed the lawyers, even if that meant delaying its conclusion until his return.
Murdock told Gettleman in a later sidebar that the trial was taking so long because of the defense's interminable cross-examinations of Drozd. Gettleman responded that Drozd was responsible for the trial's length "more than anybody else," because of his inability to answer "a straight question...with a straight answer." The judge estimated Drozd added two weeks to his examination "all by himself."
The meter was running while Drozd and the defense attorneys sparred--the cost of the 17 court-appointed defense lawyers, of the prosecutors, and of the other courtroom personnel. The final tab for just the 20-plus marshals providing security in the courtroom each day would be $300,000--marshals who earned their pay by sitting idly on the courtroom benches fighting heavy eyelids and by challenging themselves on Game Boys at the metal detectors just outside the courtroom.
April 10, 1996: In re-cross-examination Carl Clavelli, lawyer for Durwin Baker, pressed Drozd on why the police reports in the investigation were almost invariably typed or written by his partners rather than by him. In many cases Drozd didn't even sign the reports himself; a partner signed his name for him.
"It's usually when two people work together, some have different features," Drozd testified. "Some can type, OK, some can drive the car better. It all depends."
Clavelli: "In your situation, no matter who your partner was...they did the reports, isn't that right?"
"They did the typing, yes sir."
"Officer Drozd, were you present when these reports were made out or were you in a bar?" Clavelli asked.
Drozd frowned, averted his eyes from Clavelli, and gazed over at the jury. "I was present, sir," he said softly.
Drozd told me later that he found it galling to be attacked about his drinking by all those defense attorneys. He said some of them undoubtedly had their own troubles with drinking or drugs.
This was certainly not improbable, given the number of defense lawyers. But Drozd went beyond speculation. "They were drinking in the bathroom!" he declared to me after the trial. "I'm serious! Oh yes! I'll put it this way here--remember all the times that they were in the bathroom congregating? Don't you think some of 'em were going through withdrawal, they had to have a drink?"
Drozd was referring to a small washroom down the hall from the courtroom, used during recesses by lawyers, witnesses, marshals, and spectators. I never saw any boozing or smelled any evidence of it in there. When I asked Drozd if he had, he said, "Well, I'll put it this way here--I believe some of them were drinking, but not while they were with the defendants, because I don't wanna say they were drinking when they were out there. But some of them that got really on me about drinking were probably alcoholics themselves."
April 11, 1996: Just before the afternoon session began, Drozd stood outside the courtroom doors, peering in through a narrow tinted window. "Look at [defense attorney Stanley] Hill," a grinning Drozd told ATF agent Ray Dowling, who was standing nearby. "Look at him! Look--he's performing."
"What's he doing?" Dowling asked.
"He's talking to all the defendants," Drozd said animatedly. "Look at him. Look at him!"
"What's he doing?"
"He's talking to them--look at him."
Dowling stepped forward and looked through the window. Hill was standing next to his client, Clinton Patterson, a hand on his shoulder. Dowling backed away from the window and eyed Drozd quizzically. Drozd's eyes remained riveted on the courtroom window. "He's over by Bay-Bay now," Drozd said. "Look. Bay-Bay's telling him, 'That motherfucking Drozd finally got me after all these years.'"
April 16, 1996: After 26 days on the witness stand over a period of almost two months and testimony that would fill almost 3,000 pages of transcripts, the moment finally arrived.
"Officer Drozd, you're excused," Judge Gettleman said.
"Are you telling the truth?" Drozd asked.
"I'm telling you the truth," Gettleman said. "Have a good day."
April 17, 1996: Commander Thomas Sadler, who'd directed Drozd's gang-crimes west unit when Operation Flournoy began, was the first witness to assume the seat Drozd had kept warm. Sadler testified that he selected Drozd for the undercover role in part "because of his ability to interrelate with people."
"Now, in your opinion," defense attorney John Meyer asked the commander on cross-examination, "would it be appropriate for a Chicago police officer to refer to an individual to his face as a piece of shit?" (Drozd had called a defendant that on one of the tapes.)
"Depends upon the context that the verbiage has been used," Sadler said.
Meyer: "So you're saying in some contexts, a Chicago police officer can refer to another individual as a piece of shit, and that would be appropriate conduct by a Chicago police officer?"
"It would be inappropriate if it was used in a derogatory manner," Sadler explained.
"Commander," Meyer said, "in your experience as a Chicago police officer, have you ever referred to another individual as a piece of shit and not meant it in a derogatory fashion?"
"I can't recall if I've ever used that phraseology," Sadler said.
May 2, 1996: The Flournoy case was in recess, but at a press conference in the Dirksen building U.S. attorney James Burns announced the arrests of 14 people in the Chicago area for wholesale drug trafficking. They were among 130 people arrested nationwide, Burns told reporters, as the federal government switched its focus from street-level dealers to wholesale distributors.
Chicago police superintendent Matt Rodriguez, who attended the press conference, was asked whether recent federal prosecutions of dope dealing by gangs--the Gangster Disciples, the Four Corner Hustlers, the Undertaker Vice Lords, and now the Traveling Vice Lords--had slowed trafficking in Chicago. No, he said. He added that he wasn't telling the feds to quit pursuing drug dealers--he just wished more money were spent on treatment to reduce demand.
May 7, 1996: As the trial entered its third month, Warren Reynolds took the stand, the last of the insiders to testify for the government. Had he gone to trial and been convicted, a life sentence would have been mandatory. He'd agreed to plead guilty and testify in exchange for a sentence of just four years.
Reynolds told the jury he'd worked his way up from equipment manager for Bay-Bay's softball team to supervisor at the drug spot on Flournoy. His description of the dealing on Flournoy--how the drugs were packaged and sold and who was involved--corroborated much of the government's case.
On cross-examination Stanley Hill asked him about crooked cops in the Flournoy-California area. Prosecutor Saltoun objected strenuously that the habits of police officers other than Drozd and his partners were irrelevant. But Gettleman overruled the objection.
Reynolds said he'd been shaken down by four to six police officers, all of them white, on various occasions in '94. He said he didn't know the officers' names.
"Did you pay bribes to those individuals?" Hill asked.
"I didn't pay them," Reynolds said. "They took money from me."
"What do you mean?"
"They took money out of my pocket." He said on one occasion officers took $800 from him.
"Did you ever report that to the police?" Hill asked.
"They weren't going to believe me."
Reynolds testified that he'd seen officers take money from other people at the spot on Flournoy as well.
"Were they in the neighborhood to serve or to protect or to shake it down, Mr. Reynolds?" Hill asked.
"I guess both," Reynolds said.
Andre was surprised by Reynolds's testimony--surprised not that he'd been shaken down, but that he'd been willing to say so when he had a plea agreement on the line. Andre told me that every year some cops in the neighborhood demanded "Christmas presents" from the dealers--envelopes stuffed with money; others confiscated drugs from one dealer and then insisted that another "buy" them. He said some couldn't keep their hands out of the pockets and socks of the males on the street corners. When those wandering fingers hooked a bankroll, the straight cops would berate the owner about the source of the wad before returning it; the dirtiest ones would keep the whole thing. "Not turn you in," said Andre. "Just take the money and tell you to go home." Other cops would simply peel off a commission. Andre said he got caught shooting dice in the street one day, and his $3,400 roll was $500 thinner when the cop returned it.
"Any policeman that's doing this should get double the time," Drozd later told me.
Crooked cops "do not take their payoffs from the local parish priest," U.S. attorney Dan Webb told the jury in the closing arguments of the 1982 Marquette Ten case. Crooked cops, he said, take payoffs from people they have leverage over. Webb also said that dope dealers are perfect shakedown targets for three reasons: they carry a ready supply of cash, they're not in a position to squawk, and cops can rationalize their misdeeds, telling themselves that "the dope peddler is evil...and his money is dirty, and if I can take part of it, so what?"
Webb won convictions of nine tactical officers from the Marquette District and one other officer, all of whom had been charged with extorting payoffs from dope dealers. Fifteen years later the temptation seems not to have abated, as evidenced by the recent indictments of seven cops in the west-side Austin District and three in the south-side Gresham District for extorting payoffs from undercover agents posing as drug dealers.
One gang-crimes officer I spoke with, who said he'd never shaken down a dealer or seized money illegally, told me how enticing that could be. He said he'd stopped ten-year-olds with a few thousand dollars on them. If he took some or all of it home with him, who would ever find out? "That'd be a temptation to anybody, I think."
The demand for drugs, combined with their illegality, results in an awful lot of cash flowing through neighborhoods like Andre's. And it doesn't all end up in the pockets of dealers. But the law comes down on the street peddlers far more often and much more severely than it does on the police, Andre told me, notwithstanding those few officers now residing in the MCC. "It's a whole lot more dirty cops out there," he said.
On May 9, after three months of testimony, the government rested its case. The defense began its case on the morning of May 13. None of the defendants took the stand, and only three called any witnesses. By early that afternoon all 19 defendants had rested.
May 16, 1996: At long last, closing arguments.
Ryan Stoll began for the government. As a visual aid, he had a large corkboard propped up in front of the jury box with a variety of guns strapped to it--from pearl-handled nine-millimeter automatics to ponderous .357s--guns the defendants had given to Drozd during Operation Flournoy.
Stoll told the jury that when Bud Patterson offered Drozd that shotgun on July 14, 1991, Drozd and his bosses saw "a unique opportunity in law enforcement"--a chance to shut down a drug organization, "not just to catch another person with a handful of bags that returns again."
The defendants weren't "just a group of guys who agreed to sell drugs," Stoll maintained. "This was an organization. This was a group that had a structure to it. It had bosses. It had supervisors. It had workers....It ran like a business. And that's dangerous."
The defendants sometimes let their guard down with Drozd and made incriminating admissions "because of how fun loving he is," Stoll said. "You hear him on tape laughing and things like that." He urged the jurors to focus on these admissions by the defendants, rather than on Drozd's demands and threats--the "negotiations" about the bribes, as Stoll called them. "The defendants' own words, ladies and gentlemen, that's the cornerstone of this case."
Stoll acknowledged the disclosures during the trial about other corrupt police officers. "The unfortunate fact is, there are police in Chicago who do the wrong thing, and there are police in Chicago who will take the drug money." He said it was this "reprehensible fact" that made the dealers on Flournoy think they could bribe Drozd. "But Officer Drozd wasn't up for sale. Officer Drozd did his job."
Stoll summed up: "Does Officer Drozd drink a lot? Yes. Does Officer Drozd say things that any of us find to be completely inappropriate? Yes. Is Officer Drozd a great record keeper? No. Ladies and gentlemen, this case doesn't rise or fall on Officer Drozd. This isn't a case about Officer Drozd. This case isn't about whether you like Officer Drozd or you don't like Officer Drozd. What this case is about is these 19 men, and are these 19 men guilty of what they are charged with."
May 20, 1996: Stoll had played down the importance of Drozd to the case, but defense attorneys wanted to talk about no one else. Listening to them, a juror might have forgotten who was on trial.
Luis Galvan, representing Edgar Williams, pointed to the lack of tapes on which defendants asked Drozd why, after so many years of honesty, he'd suddenly decided to start shaking them down. "The simple truth is that what...supposedly began July 14 had been going on for a long time."
Donald Young, representing Maurice Foster: "If you try and analyze the things that that man said and the things he did, all the manipulation, all the deceit, all the distortions, all the half-truths--if you just take a minute and look at it through his eyes, and through his eyes only, it almost begins to make sense, because to him those were not lies. He is simply doing his job. And that means he is going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Phonying up reports, messing with tapes, making up stories, whatever it takes. His job is to make arrests and to get convictions. And he is going to do it by any means necessary."
Victor Pilolla, representing Jerry Patterson, said the failure of anyone supervising Drozd to rein him in resulted in a case "awash in sloppiness."
Like many of the attorneys, Pilolla argued not so much that his client was innocent, but that the case was much ado about little. "They took this rag-tag collection of drug addicts, down-and-outers, gamblers and fornicators, and recast them into this disciplined and structured criminal enterprise."
Stanley Hill, representing Clinton Patterson: "If the brothers were that organized...they'd have a great political organization over there."
Timothy Hearst, representing Robert "Shaky" Patterson: "The government has been throwing out figures to you that the dope spot generated 15,000, 25,000 dollars a day, seven days a week....Where is the money? Where is the bank accounts?... Where is my client's Mercedes? Where is the diamond rings and the gold chain and the silver Nikes?"
Gary Ravitz, representing Lennell Patterson, called Operation Flournoy "a big, puffed-up, night narcotics court case" and a prime example of "the phrase 'making a federal case out of something.'...You don't need a four-year investigation to catch guys who are standing on a street corner."
Ron Clark made almost no attempt to dispute the evidence against Andre. He told the jury that Andre had grown up in "an environment created for him by policies that prefer giving young black men a baloney sandwich [a trip to jail] to giving them an education."
Earlier Judge Gettleman had cautioned defense attorneys not to seek nullification from the jury. A jury "nullifies" when it acquits based not on the evidence but on its belief that a conviction would be unjust. The quirkiness of American law recognizes the power of juries to nullify, but prohibits defense attorneys from advising juries that they have such a power.
Nonetheless, Clark told the jurors they weren't, "as the government would sometimes like you to think, simply the arbiter of fact situations....You determine guilt or innocence, and you do it however you want, and no one questions you."
Gettleman sustained Murdock's immediate objection, adding, "The jury will be instructed, Mr. Clark, to consider the evidence and render their verdict on the basis of the evidence and the law that I instruct them on."
Clark continued anyway: "You are the arbiter of whether justice means 'just us,' or something else." He urged the jury to "do the right thing" and find Andre not guilty.
May 24, 1996: Murdock, in the government's rebuttal argument, fumed over the idea some defense attorneys had advanced that the defendants were victims of Drozd's extortion. "Quite frankly, the idea that they are victims is the most outrageous thing I have ever heard," she said. "They are victimizers. They prey on the weakness of others, they get rich off of their misery, they sell bag after bag after bag, and in doing so they show a total lack of respect for the community in which they live.
"What are these men doing? These men are selling dope. And they are not entitled to sell dope. They have no right to sell dope. A legitimate businessman who is shaken down by a cop is a victim because he has a right to operate the corner grocery store, or the dry-cleaning business, or the barbershop....A dope dealer is not a victim." If the defendants felt threatened by Drozd, she said, they were only concerned that he "would do his job."
There was "absolutely no evidence," she went on, that Drozd had been corrupt before Operation Flournoy began. "And frankly, it defies common sense. They want you to believe that he has been engaging in a corrupt course of conduct, and he decides to bring the federal government in to investigate? That's crazy." But "assume for a moment that Bob Drozd was really corrupt. Would that make these men any less guilty?"
Murdock asked the jury, "Why do they want you to believe all these things about Bob Drozd? It's because they do not want you to look at the evidence. They do not want you to look at the tapes. They do not want you to look at the defendants' own words. That is the most compelling evidence that there is."
Murdock urged the jurors to consider "what the law-abiding citizens of that community thought of Bob Drozd. Because most people who lived in the vicinity of the 2700 block of West Flournoy were not drug dealers....The community benefited from what he did."
"If I get out there again, I ain't messing around no more," Andre told me after the jury had begun its deliberations. "A guy gotta be real crazy to go back out there and give these people a second chance to get him. I love my kids from my heart. I couldn't give these people a second chance to take me away from them. I don't wanna move back. I wanna go forward with my life."
Reading hadn't been one of Andre's pastimes before he got locked up. But in the MCC he'd got into the habit of studying the newspaper every day and perusing Jet and EM magazine when they were around. The words on the pages weren't as mysterious anymore. He now believed he could get his high school diploma and said that would be his first priority if he were acquitted. Then he'd use the diploma to get a job--maybe as a janitor or on the back of a garbage truck. "I got the drug thing out of my life," he said.
But Andre's aunt, Rose Doyle, with whom he'd lived in his teens, told me she wasn't so sure he could leave it all behind. "That's his life, these are his people, this is all he knows."
June 7, 1996: "It's gonna be a bloodbath," defense attorney Carl Clavelli told me in the hallway outside the courtroom. After deliberating for nine days the jury had reached a verdict. A couple of the questions the jurors had asked Judge Gettleman in notes had persuaded defense attorneys the outlook was bleak.
Prosecutor Murdock voiced cautious optimism. "You just hope the jury will do the right thing," she told me. "And what the right thing is is open to debate."
At 2:29 the defendants were ushered into the courtroom. They looked like they were expecting the worst. Andre was wearing the same white shirt and tie he'd worn for the opening statements four months earlier and through much of the trial. Sitting next to him was Gerardo Gutierrez, a lawyer substituting for Ron Clark, who'd left for Brazil after his closing argument.
Andre's sisters Denise and Dovie were on a bench in the gallery, along with Denise's son Calvin and one of Tyrone's sons.
The courtroom hushed as Gettleman took his seat at the bench. "They coming home," Denise whispered to Dovie.
The jurors entered and assumed their seats. Defendants, lawyers, and spectators studied them for clues. The number of red eyes on the jury didn't appear to bode well for the defendants.
"And has the jury come to a verdict?" Gettleman asked the foreperson, a middle-aged black woman.
"Yes, we have, your honor," the woman said. She handed a thick bound volume to a marshal, who passed it up to the judge.
The defendants made no attempt to hide their nervousness. Brows were furrowed, lips bitten. Feet drummed madly on the floor. The next day's Tribune would report that as the verdicts were read most of the defendants "slouched in their seats," but they didn't. Andre sat on the edge of his chair, arms on his knees, hands folded in front of him, head down. Bay-Bay, his folded hands pressed against his chin, scrutinized Gettleman as he read. "We, the jury, find defendant Andrew Patterson guilty as charged in count one." Bay-Bay winced, then shook his head, leaned back, and scowled at the fluorescent lights on the ceiling.
The judge read on. Bay-Bay was guilty of racketeering, he was guilty of drug conspiracy, he was guilty of using firearms in relation to a drug-trafficking crime, he was guilty of being a felon in possession of weapons.
Bay-Bay's brother Shaky Patterson--guilty of the same four charges.
Andre hadn't looked up from the carpet. There were murmurs in the gallery. Denise sighed, sniffled, lowered her head into her hands.
Bay-Bay's brother Bud Patterson--guilty, guilty, guilty. Bay-Bay's nephew, Andrew "Maine" Patterson--not guilty of racketeering, but guilty of drug conspiracy; he still faced a life sentence. Tyrone, likewise, beat the racketeering charge but not the drug-conspiracy one; he too could expect life.
It was Andre's turn. He looked up at Gettleman, his face resigned, like the brother next in line at whupping time. Guilty of everything charged. His large head sank like a stone. Denise, sobbing, jumped to her feet and dashed for the door. Her wails in the hallway reverberated back into the courtroom, "Oh God..."
Stanley Hill's client, Clinton Patterson, was acquitted of all charges. So was Steve Eberhardt's client, Terry Patterson, and defendants Charlie Edwards and Jessie Drew. Their lawyers hugged them when Gettleman read their verdicts. They were the only defendants with cause to celebrate. A beeper in the pocket of Andre's nephew Calvin sounded a plaintive salute while Gettleman polled the jury.
When they returned to the MCC early that evening some of the defendants cried, while the others consoled them. Andre was in the latter group. "We'll get 'em on appeal," he kept reassuring the teary-eyed ones.
Andre told me he'd gone into the courtroom for the reading of the verdict confident he was on his way home, despite everyone else's pessimism. But when he heard the verdict on Bay-Bay, "I knew I was gonna get hit too. It's a real hurting feeling. I'm just wondering how my kids are gonna survive. I was glad that some guys got to go home. I didn't want to see everybody get held."
The verdicts were "a tribute to [Drozd's] work on the streets," prosecutor Saltoun said in the Tribune the following day. The prosecutors said they were pleased that the gang's leaders, particularly Bay-Bay and his brother Shaky, had been convicted, and they noted that the four men acquitted of all charges were mere underlings.
The Tribune also reported that, according to Saltoun, $2 million of the gang's assets and profits were subject to forfeiture to the government, which left the impression that the government would be picking up a significant chunk of money from a gang of dope dealers that had been rolling in it.
The feds put much time and energy into forfeiture investigations tied to prosecutions such as this one in hopes of recouping some of their expenditures. But what Saltoun didn't say in the Tribune was that after extensive investigation of the Flournoy defendants, the government had found hardly any assets worth claiming. The prosecutors had already dropped their forfeiture claims against all of the defendants except Bay-Bay and Shaky. The other defendants, Murdock told me, "were making a lot of money. Whether they were saving it, or buying drugs with it and spending it on whatever, is a different question."
The only assets the feds had found that were traceable to Bay-Bay or Shaky were the heavily mortgaged building Bay-Bay had lived in on North Latrobe, a '95 Chevy Blazer, and a '94 Acura.
The prosecutors had made the drug spot on Flournoy out to be a mini-Fortune 500 company, raking in $25,000 a night, which would have totaled more than $34 million over the course of the investigation. So what happened to all the money? "Good question," Murdock told me. She believed Bay-Bay had taken "steps to hide what he had."
"If it was up to me personally, those men would have walked," the jury foreperson, who asked that her name not be used, told me a few days after the verdict was announced. "And they would have walked on a technicality, not because I thought they weren't doing anything."
She said, "I know you got to do something to stop drugs, but I did not like his [Drozd's] tactics." But, she said, the other jurors kept stressing the admissions the defendants had made on the tapes. "I was one person out of 12, and there were 11 people saying, 'Hey, wait a minute--they didn't pick these people up because they were nice people and they were going to church and Sunday school. They picked them up because they were hurting people--they were pushing drugs.' Then I had to come off of my high horse and say, 'Now, you're right about that.'"
The foreperson said that the jurors were disturbed about the backdated reports and that they doubted Drozd's version of how and why the investigation started. She said she believed the defense attorneys' argument that Drozd had been taking bribes from the dealers on Flournoy before the investigation began. She also thought Drozd had wanted to end his police career "in a big way. He'd been stuck out there in that garbage dump all these years, and he was going to come out of there with just a little watch. Now he goes out in glory--'I brought down those people.'"
She said the trial had changed her view on the war on drugs. "Lord knows it's against everything that's inside of me to say this, but I think they should be legalized--because we're losing the fight. It isn't going to stop because a few people go down." The stiffer sentences for drug crimes "are drawing all the money from the taxpayers. Everybody on the jury was saying we should take the money from these long, drawn-out prosecutions and put it into programs that will show kids there are other ways. Instead of building prisons, why don't we build schools and give people hope?"
Before the jury walked back into the courtroom with its verdict, she said, "I thought about how these young men were going to be locked up, and they're not going to be able to see their families and live a normal life. All of us were crying--because we knew what had to be done. Nobody was happy with the outcome. But we followed the law."
There are two common fears in a case with so many defendants, Murdock told me after the trial. The defense, she said, worries that the jury will "lump everybody together and say these are all bad guys and convict them without looking at the evidence against each individual." The prosecution worries "that the jury will just be overwhelmed" and acquit everyone. The verdicts in this case, she said, "demonstrate that the jury did do its job."
I told her what the foreperson had said about Drozd. She stood by her star witness. She said she believed he'd forgotten about his original reports until the FBI found copies of them. She said she believed the backdating of the final reports was "a mistake," as he'd testified. She said she believed his version of how the investigation started. "Is it possible that he was mistaken about certain things? Sure. Is it possible he was confused about certain things? Sure. But that's a far cry from lying."
Murdock explained that prosecutors do their best to make sure their witnesses are truthful before they put them on the stand, checking the accounts they give pretrial against the other available evidence. "Ultimately, it is possible that witnesses get up there and lie and you don't know it," she said. "I mean, there's nothing you can do. You've done everything you can, but if you weren't there you don't ultimately know what happened. And then it's up to the jury to decide."
She said she wouldn't ever want to convict someone "on the basis of perjured testimony," even if she knew the person to be guilty. But she quickly added, "Bob Drozd enabled us to bring the evidence that convicted the defendants, but it wasn't Bob Drozd who convicted them--it was the defendants' own words on tape that convicted them."
I asked her if she thought less dope was being sold on the west side as a result of the case.
"I would hope so," she said. "I mean, it's not like we've eradicated dope dealing on the west side by any stretch of the imagination. But I think there is a difference in that neighborhood. And you do it one piece at a time."
In 1994 the U.S. attorney's office, along with other federal and local agencies, busted the Undertaker Vice Lords, the gang that was controlling drug dealing in an area two miles north and west of the Flournoy-California neighborhood. Twenty-one people were indicted and 18 convicted, including leaders of the gang. The bust proved that cooperation between federal and state law enforcement agencies could "destroy an entrenched gang," U.S. attorney James Burns told reporters when the UVLs were arrested. The chief local Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Kenneth Cloud, pledged to watch the neighborhood closely to make sure other dealers didn't fill the vacuum created by the arrests.
Six months later I toured the side streets of what had been UVL turf. On street corner after street corner that I drove by, young men were hollering, "Rocks and blows." I told Murdock that the benefits of that federal prosecution apparently had been short-lived.
"So what's the alternative?" she responded. "Let's just let 'em deal? Absolutely not. There has to be enforcement of the law. Just because the spots might start up again, we're going to throw our hands up and do nothing? For the people in that [Flournoy-California] neighborhood--that's their home, and they have a right to live there without the drug dealing. I mean, because they don't have a lot of money, they should have to put up with the 24-hour-a-day dope business? I don't think so."
How about continuing to prosecute drug cases, but less extravagantly, in state court?
"The state system is a revolving door," Murdock said. "So many of these defendants had prior state convictions. They get probation or they do a little bit of time--and they're right back out there selling. And at the state level, unfortunately so often you get just the workers. You don't get the people who are supplying the drugs and the people who are running the show."
But what big-time dealers had the feds snared in Operation Flournoy besides Bay-Bay?
"You do want to get the top people, because they're the ones bringing the drugs in," Murdock said. "But you also have to prosecute the street workers on occasion, because without them there's nobody to sell the drugs."
Randall Samborn, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office, told me the federal government would continue to prosecute drug dealers "block by block, gang by gang, neighborhood by neighborhood." Such prosecutions, he said, "send a message" that drug dealing isn't worth the price.
Is anyone listening to the message?
"Well, we certainly think so," he said.
A message has reached the Flournoy-California neighborhood since the conviction of Bay-Bay and the other 14. The message is that there are job openings.
All is quiet on the 2700 block of Flournoy, but around the corner on California and elsewhere in the neighborhood residents have noticed a growing number of wary-eyed youths loitering on street corners, hands jammed in pockets. One longtime resident told me, "It's a bunch of little young kids out there now I haven't ever seen before."
Another resident told me, "Soon as Bay-Bay's gone, there's kids saying, 'I'm the next Bay-Bay.' They just don't worry about getting caught. They say, 'He [Bay-Bay] must of did something wrong--he shouldn't have given the police anything.' Somebody'll take his place--not on the same exact spot, but on some other spot nearby."
It's not just kids who aren't heeding the message from the authorities. Consider 32-year-old Atkins Williams, a brother of Andre and Tyrone. He'd got out of prison in February '95 after serving three years for selling two rocks to an undercover cop in front of 706 S. California. He was well aware of the prosecution of his brothers, of their convictions, of the life sentences they faced. But one afternoon last October he was again arrested for allegedly selling two rocks to an undercover cop, this time in front of 804 S. California. He told me a lack of job skills, a resumption of his heroin habit, and the death of his mother had pushed him back onto a street corner. Whatever was responsible, it proved stronger than any multimillion-dollar message.
"The people are so happy" on the 2700 block of Flournoy, Drozd told me after the trial. "There's kids jumping rope, they're playing basketball. There's women that are leaving their kids on the porch now. There's no traffic coming down there from all these different suburbs. It's a little block, but it means a lot to me."
The picture Drozd painted was one I haven't seen in many visits to the block since the trial concluded. The traffic is gone, but people seem to be too--vacant lots and abandoned buildings surround the few remaining brownstones. Another home was leveled in March. I rarely found people of any age hanging outside; the aura was ghostly. Residents of the block did tell me they were glad the spot got busted, glad to no longer have to deal with the interminable stream of cars and the parking difficulties.
But, Drozd readily acknowledged, "A block down, they're selling."
Drozd has resumed the task he's performed for much of his career as a police officer--buying drugs. He thinks he does this as well as anyone in the department. Dealers just seem to trust him, he told me. "I've had people [other officers] tell me I can make a buy where no other white guy can. Maybe it's the way I talk or my charisma or something."
The buys he makes now are usually part of long-term investigations. He says they're more rewarding than the routine buy-busts he made before Operation Flournoy. But he knows that even with the long-term investigations, he's fighting a losing battle. He says too many people are profiting from drugs for the dealing to stop. "Kids are buying shoes, clothes, cars. Do you know if we took narcotics off the street for one week what'd happen? The stock market, it would crash. It would crash! If Congress really put the law down on narcotics, I don't think we'd have any problem with the distribution on the streets. If people didn't want narcotics, we wouldn't have it. But people want it."
Drozd isn't a proponent of drug legalization. "Who would you legalize it for? A guy who's flying an airplane with 500 people on it--give him a couple of bags of dope? A kid who just got out of college--let him snort some cocaine before he goes to the beach on his motorcycle? Number one, it's too dangerous. Number two, if we legalize narcotics, within two years China or Russia would just walk in and push us aside. It's getting like that now! People are just walking around like zombies!"
What has to happen to change the situation?
"It's never gonna change," he said.
"The only way you can stop the drug flow is to start helping the kids--'cause that's who's selling the shit," one of Andre's convicted codefendants, Gregory Hubbard, told me after the trial. "You got kids out there smelling like pee, hair nappy, not a decent pair of clothes to wear. Do something to help them, and you got the problem sewed up."
Stanley Hill, the attorney who won acquittal for Clinton Patterson, told me big federal cases like Operation Flournoy soothe the public and divert its attention without solving anything. "It's called misdirection. If you're so busy looking over here you're not going to see what the real problem is. Drugs are a problem in that community, but the real problem is the lack of education, the lack of jobs, the lack of alternatives. If we were really interested in doing something, we'd take the dollars spent on this trial and build a YMCA or a boys' club over there on Flournoy. We get to be real cynical and think those kind of things don't work--but kids are still kids. And if you can catch them while they're still kids, maybe you can start improving things.
"But I don't think we really care about what happens on blocks like Flournoy," he went on. "We know if we prosecute people we're gonna keep a bunch of lawyers getting paid over in federal court, judges getting paid listening to them, a bunch of marshals and police officers getting paid. We're gonna keep a lot of correctional people locking folks up. And nobody is into this mushy kind of social-work approach--people would rather be macho John Wayne, kick ass and take names, as opposed to being like Jane Addams."
Hill worried about a different conspiracy than the one the prosecutors described. When blacks began organizing in the 60s and were on the verge of "finally doing something that would result in strong and realistic political change, those powers that be felt, 'We got to redirect all this positive energy--so we'll just put some drugs in these communities and keep that organizing from occurring.' I do believe it's a conspiracy. You can either educate people and allow them to take care of their problems, or you can build jails and pay correctional officers and defense lawyers and put 'em away for life, or you can be even more drastic--you can exterminate us. I hope it never gets so bad that it's genocide like it was in Nazi Germany. But right now that's how I view the proliferation of drugs in these communities. I just think this whole drug thing is a way of exterminating. It's taking minds and misdirecting them. For the people who use these drugs it's psychological slavery. So you get the junkie, and then you lock up the dealer for life. It's killing two birds with one stone."
Sentencing, delayed twice by posttrial motions, is now set for July. According to prosecutors, defendants Gregory Hubbard, 23, and Willie Conner, 22, are each looking at a term of between 24 and 30 years. Durwin Baker, 31, is looking at 27 to 34 years. Since federal defendants can earn only one month of good-time credit for every year served, Hubbard, Conner, and Baker are likely to be imprisoned for at least a couple of decades.
It's not an enviable spot to be in--except perhaps to their 12 codefendants. Maurice Foster and Jerry Patterson are looking at 30 to life. The other ten defendants--life.
When sentencing day arrives for Andre, Tyrone, and the other defendants facing life under the three-strikes law, Judge Gettleman won't have to weigh the possibility of rehabilitation or deterrence, extent of responsibility, aggravating or mitigating circumstances. He needn't think at all. He could stay home, in fact, but for the need of his signature on the sentencing order.
The mandatory minimum penalties for drug-dealing conspiracies involving at least 50 grams of crack are clear-cut and absolute: 10 years if it's the first drug conviction, 20 years if it's the second, life if it's the third or more. The law, which went into effect a decade ago, has been denounced by conservative and liberal judges. U.S. district court judge William Schwarzer--a Gerald Ford appointee not known for soft sentences--complained in a 1989 ruling that the law turns judges into "clerks, or not even that, computers, automatically imposing sentences without regard to what is just and right." It would "profit us very little to win the war on drugs if in the process we lose our soul," he added.
In January '94 a U.S. district court judge in the District of Columbia refused to impose mandatory minimum terms of 10 and 20 years on two crack addicts, ruling that the terms would amount to "cruel and unusual" punishment. He gave them 33 months instead. A court of appeals panel later reversed his "untenable" ruling.
At least 50 senior federal judges are now refusing to hear drug cases to protest the sentences they're required to impose. "I simply cannot sentence another impoverished person whose destruction can have no discernible effect on the drug trade," U.S. district court judge Jack Weinstein of New York said when he began his boycott in 1993.
I asked Murdock if she believed the life sentences were proper punishment for Andre and the others facing them. "Whether I personally agree or disagree with the law really isn't relevant," she said. "My job is to follow the law, and that's what the law says."
In her closing argument Murdock had told the jury that the defendants were victimizers, not victims. In American criminal courts people are one or the other. But wasn't a person with a background like Andre's possibly both?
"People have to take responsibility for their actions," Murdock said. "People make choices, and if that's the choice they make I don't know that I would say that they were victims."
Andre's aunt, Rose Doyle, pointed to Andre's learning difficulties, the lack of direction from his addicted mother, the negative influences of his older siblings. "Andre never really had a chance," she said. "If he was caught earlier and given more options, maybe things would have turned out differently." She didn't see a life sentence as fair or appropriate. "Not for being stupid--and that's his biggest crime."
When I spoke with Drozd this past April he was concerned that the defendants hadn't yet been sentenced. He felt sure that posttrial motions weren't the only reason sentencing had been delayed. He said prosecutors were likely negotiating with Bay-Bay's attorney, offering him a reduced sentence in exchange for information about and the pledge of future testimony against west-side cops.
Prosecutors declined to comment on whether any such negotiations were occurring, citing office policy. But Diane Saltoun acknowledged that it isn't unusual for convicted defendants to offer information to the government in hopes of improving their predicaments. She told me that prosecutors must decide whether the information offered would be of "substantial assistance" to the government--substantial enough that prosecutors would feel justified recommending lighter terms for the defendants.
Defense attorneys told me that numerous defendants, not just Bay-Bay, were now anxious to tell prosecutors what they knew about dirty cops. Andre was one of these defendants. But Bay-Bay may have more to offer the feds than any of his codefendants. "One of the anomalies of the system is that a big-time dealer, because he knows more, can get away with doing not much time," one defense attorney told me, "while his underlings, because they really weren't involved enough to have a lot of information, might go away for life."
Drozd didn't seem concerned about what happened to anybody but Bay-Bay, who he thought unquestionably deserved a life sentence. "He treated his family like garbage. He ruined the neighborhood. He had no respect for human life. All he had respect for was money."
Drozd went on, "There's a lot of us who spent thousands and thousands of hours on this investigation. If they're talking to Bay-Bay, then all my work was for nothing. If they're working a deal to get policemen, then I think the government should be revamped."
As for the sentences Andre and the other defendants are facing, Drozd said, "They took a chance. They're paying for it. Maybe society would wake up if you started putting people in jail for 50 and 100 years, and started putting it in the newspaper and showing their pictures, and saying these people are going to jail for 50 years for selling two rocks."
Andre has often wondered where he'll be shipped after sentencing. He's hoping he and Tyrone at least get assigned to the same penitentiary. Wherever he winds up, he told me, he's going to stay focused on doing whatever needs to be done to win his freedom. "They say down in them penitentiaries it's a lot of jailhouse lawyers helping people get their case overturned. Lot of guys just weight lift and play ball and build their muscles and forget about their case. When I go I'm trying to get back home."
He got a letter recently from his eight-year-old daughter asking him if he would marry her mother when he got out. Andre wrote back that he would.
He knew it would be unfair to Paulette to expect her to remain devoted to him. "I don't wanna put nobody's life on hold, you understand, waiting on me," he said. "No telling when I might come home." Sometime soon, he said, he might have to tell her their relationship is over. "But it would hurt my heart to tell her something like that." He thought that conversation was still premature. "Something good might happen. Miracles happen every day in the world. Might get a miracle around here somewhere."
"I can wait," Paulette told me later. "'Cause he been devoted to me and the kids."
Andre wasn't regretting his decision to go to trial, even though he might have ended up with a single-digit sentence had he pleaded guilty and testified for the government. If anything, he was proud of how he and his 18 codefendants had stayed loyal to one another. "People in here were saying, 'Aw, somebody gonna break on your case.' We went all the way, and they couldn't believe it. Them lawyers was telling us they been here 20 years and never seen that happen. But it's just like the old saying, 'Together we stand, divided we fall.'"
Andre said this experience has taught him "that sometimes you have to say no. I was a yes-man too much. That's what got me here. Couldn't say no." He laughed. "I was stuck on 'yeah.'"
He still has his night-orderly job. When he finishes cleaning up the eating area and climbs into bed, he and Tyrone still usually talk until Andre falls asleep. Sometimes their chats turn to the two police officers who'd so greatly influenced their lives--Policeman Joe and Officer Bob. "We talk about if he [Policemen Joe] wouldn't have started her using, how different things would be," Andre said. "We talk about how he took my mama away from her family, and now another police is taking us away from our families."
But Andre doesn't spend a lot of time blaming Drozd for his problems. "Naw, I ain't mad at him. If I get mad at anybody I get mad at myself for getting involved in this when I coulda turned the other way."
He still often dreams that he was acquitted and is going home. The dream one recent night started with his release from the MCC. "I had caught a cab--first stop, Central Park and Grenshaw, see my kids and Paulette." They didn't know he was coming. He knocked on the door. When it opened he fell on his knees, the girls squealed and hugged him, Paulette joined the embrace. Everyone hugged and cried a long time right there in the doorway. "It seemed too real," Andre said. "I got a feeling that dream still gonna come true. 'Cause dreams do come true." o
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Andrew Williams photo by Chip Williams.