by Van Smith
Published in City Paper, May 2, 2012
If you’re a federal fugitive, you better not skimp on paying the Baltimore Metro Subway fare when Generia Lawson is on the job.
On April 17, Lawson, a rookie Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) police officer, was in full uniform, doing routine fare checks at the West Cold Spring Metro Station on Wabash Avenue, when she accomplished what the U.S. Marshals Service has not done in three years: arrest 62-year-old Roosevelt Drummond, the only one of scores of indicted members of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang in Maryland who has not faced the federal grand-jury charges brought against him.
Drummond, who has prior convictions for drugs and guns, was charged federally with narcotics, robbery, and firearms crimes on April 8, 2009, and has eluded arrest ever since. A source from within the BGF who was not charged in the federal investigation but who asks to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, told City Paper earlier this year that Drummond is “an outlaw. The next time you’ll hear about him, it’ll be, ‘Oh, we got a dead black man in Montana,’ and come to find out it’s him. He ain’t going back to prison. It’ll either be the police kill him trying to get him, or he just dies. Or he probably ODs or something.”
Turns out, there was no showdown with the cops, no Butch Cassidy-style drama, just a routine inspection over a Metro ticket. Lawson’s suspicions were aroused when Drummond produced a discounted ticket he wasn’t entitled to, and then proceeded to give her false information about his identity. After she concluded he was a fugitive and arrested him, she found a small amount of heroin in his pocket and charged him with possession.
But a week after Drummond’s arrest, the open federal warrant that led Lawson to arrest him was ordered “quashed and recalled,” according to federal court documents. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Wallner, the lead prosecutor in the BGF cases, filed a motion on April 24, seeking dismissal of the federal indictment against Drummond. The filing is spare in explaining why, stating only that “based upon information developed during the investigation of the BGF, the Government seeks to dismiss the Indictment.” The next day, U.S. District Judge William Quarles, who has handled the BGF docket since 2009, obliged by ordering the dismissal. The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the dismissal of the indictment against Drummond.
When reached by phone on April 30, Lawson, who says she finished her training as an MTA police officer about three months ago, remarks that “you have to expect these types of things” in a job like hers, and that she was “a little shocked” to have nabbed a federal fugitive while checking fares, “but not really.” Until City Paper’s inquiries about Drummond’s arrest, she adds, she did not know he was part of the BGF case, nor did she know that the federal indictment against him had been dismissed, which she says is “just the process.” As for her interaction with Drummond, she says “he was cooperative,” “very compliant,” and “calm” when being arrested, and “did not appear to be nervous.” In her job, she adds, she understands that “small things can turn into big things,” such as arresting Drummond.
Lawson’s “statement of probable cause” to charge Drummond with heroin possession, filed in district court, tells the story pretty well. When Lawson asked Drummond for his ticket, shortly before noon on April 17, he showed her one that’s for senior citizens and disabled people, yet he did not have the MTA identification required of patrons who purchase such tickets. That prompted a slippery-slope interaction between Lawson and Drummond, in which he said he was “James Green,” and gave her a date of birth and Social Security number that did not jibe with the MTA dispatcher’s data.
When Lawson asked Drummond if he wanted to change any of the information he’d provided, he gave her his correct birth date. Soon thereafter, a photo of Drummond “was sent to my mobile” by the dispatcher, Lawson wrote, and “I was able to confirm” who she was dealing with, and conclude that “there was a warrant out” on him.
After arresting Drummond, Lawson found a small packet of heroin in a black velvet bag in his pants pocket. He was charged in Maryland District Court with heroin possession. Bail was set at $20,000, but online court records indicate he has not posted it and remains detained pending a trial scheduled for May 21, when he could face up to four years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
While Drummond’s treatment at the hands of a rookie transit cop appears to be straightforward police work, the dismissal of the indictment against him by seasoned federal authorities stands in marked contrast to his BGF co-defendants, some of whom are serving lengthy prison sentences.
Court documents in the sprawling BGF conspiracy cases, which include racketeering convictions against many of the defendants, indicate that Drummond’s role was limited to a March 13, 2009, incident involving three men in a car with a stolen handgun, handcuffs, rubber gloves, and a mask. The car was pulled over by Baltimore police, and Drummond was the only one arrested for possessing the gun. The state charges against him were dropped after his federal indictment. Now, three years later, Drummond is the only one of the men in that car who isn’t in trouble in federal court.
One of them, Randolph Edison, last year pleaded guilty to possessing a stolen firearm and is serving 96 months in prison. The other, Zachary Norman, entered into a plea agreement in October 2010 and is facing a superseding charge of conspiring to commit an assault.
Though Edison pleaded guilty, he afterward sought to rescind that plea—in part because, as he told Quarles at his sentencing hearing last August, “I never had possession of a gun, and nor did I know the gun was stolen.” Drummond, now that his indictment has been dismissed, doesn’t have to worry about that particular gun anymore.