A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment today charging 10 individuals with narcotics and firearms offenses, federal racketeering conspiracy, and three murders in aid of racketeering activity, in connection with an ongoing investigation into a drug organization that operated in Barry Farm and other neighborhoods within the District of Columbia and the larger metropolitan area. The charges were announced today by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Salvatore R. Lauro, Chief of the U.S. Park Police (USPP), and Roberto L. Hylton, Chief of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
The individuals initially were charged in a six-count federal indictment on March 10, 2010, with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute phencyclidine (PCP), heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine, within the District of Columbia and Maryland, and related drug charges. The original indictment covered criminal activities from August 2009 through March 2010.
The superseding indictment returned today stems from a continuing investigation of the individuals’ alleged drug organization and several acts of violence supposedly attributable to them. It covers crimes dating to 2006 and broadens the case to include newly filed racketeering and murder charges.
The government may be obtaining new information either from those already charged that have entered into cooperation agreements in hopes of a lesser sentence, or from other sources. It is also important to remember that an indictment does not require any evidence, nor is an indictment evidence of guilt itself.
As set forth in the superseding indictment, the drug organization began operating as early as 2006 with Mark Pray allegedly in charge. The superseding indictment alleges that Mark Pray, 29, enlisted family members, friends, and individuals known to him from Barry Farm and elsewhere to distribute controlled substances. The indictment alleges that members of the Pray Drug Organization regularly carried firearms to promote and protect the drug enterprise and its interests; that members of the enterprise committed, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence, including murder and robbery, to protect and expand the enterprise’s criminal operations; and further alleges that members of the enterprise promoted a climate of fear through violence and threats of violence.
The superseding indictment specifically charges Mark Pray and two co-defendants, Alonzo Marlow, 30, and Kenneth Benbow, 30, for their respective roles in three separate murders committed in aid of the charged racketeering activity, in the District of Columbia and Maryland, between 2008 and 2010. One killing was of a government witness, Crystal Washington, 44, who was shot to death April 10, 2009 in the District of Columbia. She was slain one business day before the start of a D.C. Superior Court trial at which Washington was to testify for the government against Mark Pray and three other individuals.
The indictment charges Mark Pray and Alonzo Marlow, who functioned as an “enforcer” for the Pray Drug Organization, with Washington’s death. Pray and Marlow also are charged with the January 13, 2010, murder of Jheryl Hodge 20, in the District of Columbia. According to the indictment, Marlow shot Hodge several times, in broad daylight, in the middle of the Barry Farm neighborhood. Pray and Kenneth Benbow are charged with the murder of Van Johnson Jr., 28, which took place September 24, 2008, in Prince George’s County.
In addition to Pray, Marlow and Benbow, the others indicted include: Randolph Danson, 25, Robert McMillan, 25, Timothy Moon, 23, Robert Smith, 31, Charles Wade, 25, Herman Williams, 19, and Larry Williams, 29.
All of the named individuals will be arraigned on the superseding indictment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on a date to be determined by the Court. All of the individuals face sentences from 10 years to life in prison if convicted.
The federal Murder in Aid of Racketeering charges against Mark Pray, Alonzo Marlow, and Kenneth Benbow are punishable by life imprisonment.
Because these individuals will be tried in a federal court, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines will apply if convicted.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at one of the offices listed above.