A top federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in the District sent 1980s drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III correspondence in which he said he would recommend Edmond’s life sentence be reduced to time served in exchange for his years of cooperation, according to three people familiar with the case.
Two of those people said that the prosecutor, longtime Assistant U. S. Attorney John Dominguez,made clear in his communications with Edmond that any request for a specific sentence reduction needed the agreement of Dominguez’s supervisors. They said that never happened. One person said that at least one document suggested a final decision had been made.
One of those documents was sent in recent years. It was not clear when the others were sent.
What prosecutors ultimately requested was a less significant reduction to Edmond’s term of life without parole. This month, the U.S. attorney’s office filed a motion asking a federal judge to change that punishment to 40 years.
The question of whether Edmond was told his help to prosecutors would result in a much-bigger benefit is likely to be a key issue during an October hearing in the case. The final say on whether Edmond gets a break belongs to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.
Edmond, 54, has been incarcerated for three decades. Authorities say he oversaw an operation that brought as much as 1,700 pounds of cocaine a month into the District in the mid-1980s. At one point, law enforcement officials estimated that he was taking in as much as $2 million a week.
Rayful Edmond III In February, prosecutors shocked District residents when they said they would seek a reduction in Edmond’s prison time because he had cooperated with authorities over two decades, helping them understand the workings of the drug trade and convict about 100 other dealers.
The U.S. attorney’s office said last week that it had not previously made an official agreement with Edmond.
“We are not aware of any promises that John Dominguez made,” said Kadia Koroma, a spokeswoman for the office. “The U.S. attorney’s office has never taken a position of time served.”
Dominquez, a 35-year prosecutor with the office, did not return telephone calls.
Jason G. Downs, Edmond’s attorney, also declined to comment. Downs has repeatedly argued that Edmond should be released because of his cooperation and the time he has spent in prison. During a May hearing in front of Sullivan, Downs said he planned to call Dominguez as a witness to testify on behalf of Edmond at the resentencing hearing scheduled to begin Oct. 16.
John Crabb, the new lead prosecutor appointed to Edmond’s case, objected to having Dominguez testify. Then, on Sept. 4, Downs filed a motion with the court informing the judge that he had subpoenaed Dominguez to appear at the hearing.
[ Rayful Edmond III appears at first hearing for early release from prison, via video conference ]
If Dominguez testifies, details about the inner workings of the U.S. attorney’s office and what he offered Edmond as part of his cooperation agreement could be revealed.
At the time of his arrest and trial, authorities said Edmond’s drug ring helped fuel a crack cocaine epidemic that contributed to the city’s rising homicide rate at the time, pushing Washington to be nicknamed the “nation’s murder capital.” Authorities said Edmond’s enforcers were linked to as many as 30 slayings, although Edmond was never convicted in any homicides.
Whatever decision Sullivan makes will not directly affect a separate 30-year sentence Edmond has yet to serve for dealing drugs from a Pennsylvania prison.
In an interview with The Post, David J. Freed, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said his office has not decided whether it, too, would grant Edmond a reduction. Instead, Freed said, his office was waiting to see how Sullivan rules.
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LINK ORIGINAL: Washington Post