By Van Smith
Published by City Paper, July 31, 2012
Shanel Stallings works hard selling hot dogs from a cart in front of Baltimore’s downtown circuit courthouses, as City Paper reported recently (‘Every Day I’m Hustlin’, July 18). But her other gig—at least between January and July last year, when she was indicted in federal court—was selling heroin.
Stallings, according to her April guilty plea, hustled between one and three kilograms of junk with four co-conspirators, including Baltimore City cop Daniel Redd, whose supplies were smuggled to the U.S. from Ghana. All five defendants have pleaded guilty, and all have been sentenced but Redd, who is scheduled to learn his fate on Sept. 6. Stallings received her sentence on July 11 and is set to start serving her 30-month prison stint on Sept. 10.
Stallings’ role in the conspiracy is detailed in FBI special agent Craig Monroney’s 51-page search warrant affidavit, used to justify searches of 11 locations last summer, including Stallings’ Cedonia home and the 2007 Cadillac Escalade she and Redd used. The document includes transcriptions of phone calls intercepted by wiretaps, which picked up Stallings and Redd discussing the hard times they’d been facing obtaining more heroin to sell and the potential need for Redd to intervene on Stalling’s behalf should she be stopped by police or be threatened with a robbery by customers looking to take her money or heroin.
Stallings’ conspiracy was unearthed as a result of a lengthy joint investigation by the FBI, DEA, and the Baltimore Police Department. The probe resulted in two other federal indictments: a cocaine case against Kevin Foreman and Andre Carter, and a heroin-and-cocaine case against Will Evans and five codefendants.
Foreman had been a Charles Village resident working as a gang-interventionist for at-risk Baltimore City Public Schools students through the non-profit organization, Continuous Growth, prior to his arrest. Carter has a long history of drug arrests and convictions. In June 2011, according to court documents, the two men went to a hotel room near White Marsh Mall, believing they were buying 10 kilograms of cocaine from a representative of a “Mexican-based drug-trafficking organization,” but it turned out to be a sting operation set up by the DEA. They have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to long prison terms.
The Evans case, which, according to court documents, was centered at Club 2300, a West Baltimore bar operated by codefendant Clifford Andrews, and supplied Eastern Shore communities, is still winding its way through the court, with two defendants—including Samuel Brown, in whose name the Cadillac Escalade used by Redd and Stallings was registered—still fighting the charges.
The Stallings-Redd case also overlapped with a case in which one of Stallings’ co-defendants – a Ghanaian named Abdul Zakaria, also known as Tamim Mamah – testified as a state’s witness in the federal heroin-conspiracy trial of Moses Appram, which ended with a conviction on May 2. That case involved other Ghanaians who smuggled heroin into the United States from West Africa using couriers aboard commercial flights.
Zakaria’s sentencing hearing was held on July 17, though what happened remains a secret, as the proceeding was sealed as a result of a motion by Zakaria’s attorney, who wrote in a since-sealed letter to U.S. District Judge William Quarles that CP’s recent coverage involving Zakaria (“Straight Outta Accra,” May 23) had given rise to threats against his client.
The case against Stallings was remarkable for the presence of Redd, a heroin-dealing police officer who sold drugs while on duty and in uniform, including from the department’s Northwestern District parking lot. But Stallings, too, was not a typical drug dealer. Not only did she sell hot dogs in front of a courthouse where defendants, cooperators, and grand-jury witnesses regularly go in and out, but she also sold food at the municipal pools, according to court documents.
Stallings “prepares the tastiest food and work[s] tirelessly for patrons who attend the pools,” wrote Darryl Sutton, director of the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks Aquatic Division, in a June character letter, written on City of Baltimore letterhead and submitted as part of the court record in Stallings’ case. “She has become an essential member of our team,” Sutton continued, “as we serve more than 100,000 visitors at the pools each year.”
Another letter, written by a former employee of Stallings’ hot dog business, who was offered the job despite a lengthy criminal record, including convictions for drugs and armed robbery, was glowing in its estimation of Stallings’ character.
“I understand that she has made a grave mistake,” wrote Timothy Wrenn, “but if at all possible don’t take her from her children for too long. She is truly a great person.”