By Van Smith
Published in City Paper, May 5, 2009
With the slow gait of the aged, 51-year-old Randolph “Uncle Rudy” Edison shuffles into a federal courtroom in Baltimore on April 22 to face charges that he helped commit violent crimes for the Black Guerilla Family prison gang in Maryland. The wear and tear of a lengthy prison stint he served in the 1990s and early 2000s (with an extra year tacked on in 2000 for assaulting a Department of Corrections employee), appears to have taken its toll on him.
In 2007, Edison was out of jail and back on the streets, and he racked up new charges–loitering, drug possession (including a state case brought in January)–that show him residing in Dundalk, where he’d been living before his 1993 murder sentence was imposed. Edison’s world-weary air in the courtroom reveals little, if any, worry about the future – except, perhaps, when it comes to getting his twice-a-day insulin shots for diabetes, something for his high blood pressure, and a doctor to take a look at the abscess on his hand.
Nonetheless, the feds have evidence portraying Edison as a plugged-in leader of the BGF, working energetically on the outside for imprisoned BGF ringleader Eric Brown.
On March 13, BGF court documents show, Edison and two other BGF co-defendants-52-year-old Zachary Norman and 59-year-old Roosevelt Drummond-were in a car that was pulled over by police in Baltimore City. Drummond had a gun and was arrested; also taken from the car were handcuffs, rubber gloves, and a mask.
Hours later, Brown used a cell phone to call Edison, initiating a conversation that was intercepted by investigators. “We just had some bad luck man,” Edison told Brown, according to court documents. “We was in the car, yeah and they pulled us over, right. You know we gonna do something, but the coon that was setting the whole degree up, he’s the rat. He set all us up.” Edison explained that Drummond had a gun, adding, “Just lucky I ain’t carry that thing,” to which Brown responded, “that’s the last thing you need boy.”
Investigators concluded from this conversation that Edison was reporting to Brown what happened with the police while he and his co-defendants were “en route to commit a drug-related armed robbery,” according to court documents.
Edison had no lawyer for his first appearance in court, but two days later, on April 24, Richard Bittner is appointed to him. After asking around the courtroom for Edison’s sister, who’s not there, and meeting briefly with an older gentleman who says he’s Edison’s friend, Bittner decides not to fight the prosecutor’s request that Edison remain in jail until after the trial. U.S. District Court magistrate judge Beth Gesner orders Edison detained, reminding him that if he chooses, he can later request a hearing over whether or not he can be conditionally released.