WILLIAMSPORT – The inmate whose substantial assistance led to the breakup of a major drug operation inside the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary 25 years ago believes he is entitled to be a free man.
Rayful Edmond III, the biggest drug dealer in the District of Columbia in the late 1980s, on Saturday asked U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann to resentence him to time served.
He claims that sentence would be consistent with the extraordinary nature of his assistance which, according to the filing, included:
- Testifying against the leader of one of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in Washington that was responsible for more than 30 homicides.
- Providing assistance that allowed Metropolitan police to close 10 unsolved homicide cases.
- Decoding and translating wiretap recordings so law enforcement could better understand them.
- Providing information for affidavits for wiretaps that led to more than 100 convictions.
- Brokering a truce between two rival Washington gangs.
Brann in April reduced Edmond’s 30-year sentence by three years but explained he could not go below the guidelines without the government advocating for it.
That resulted in Edmond accusing the U.S. attorney’s office in the Middle District of showing “blatant disregard” for his substantial assistance.
On Aug. 26, Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey W. MacArthur moved to reduce the sentence by another three years to 24 years.
It is evident the government places a different value on Edmond’s cooperation in terms of the number of years his sentence should be reduced, he wrote.
However, he noted the public at large has benefitted from Edmond’s assistance in terms of reforms at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, the successful prosecution of others and information on cold-case homicides that was unknown previously.
There was never a promise or agreement that the government would file a motion for a sentence reduction in the Middle District based on substantial assistance, MacArthur said.
The language of the plea agreement, he points out, provides Edmond’s mother Constance Perry, who admitted helping manage her son’s drug trafficking money, would be the beneficiary of his cooperation.
She was serving a 14-year prison sentence when released in 1998 as the result of her son’s cooperation.
Edmond, 57, acknowledges the benefit his mother received but claims it was meager compared with the assistance he provided the government over 18 years.
He was sentenced in the Middle District in 1997 by the late Senior Judge Malcolm Muir to 30 years to run consecutive to a 1990 District of Columbia life term.
He began serving the 30 years in February 2021 after his District of Columbia sentence was reduced to 20 years, which he had served.
Edmond was found guilty there in 1989 of charges that included engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, interstate travel in aid of racketeering conspiracy and unlawfully employing a person under 18 years of age.
Three first-degree murder counts were severed and later dismissed. The parties agreed they would not be pursued in the future.
Edmond was sent to the then maximum-security Lewisburg penitentiary from which between 1991 and 1994 he operated a drug ring, the spokes of which extended from inner city Washington to cocaine cartels in Medellin, Colombia.
He generated $200,000 in commissions – $1,000 for each kilogram of cocaine he brokered.
He directed the money be paid into his and other inmates’ commissary accounts, to friends and associates in Washington, in some cases to attorneys in the D.C. area and to conspirators who agreed to hold the money for safe keeping.
Edmond in 1996 pleaded guilty in federal court in Williamsport to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
His cooperation with the government included in August of that year participating in an undercover sting operation involving drug orders placed from Lewisburg.
It was so dangerous, according to a court document, Edmond spent six months in solitary confinement until then Attorney General Janet Reno approved going forward with the sting operation.
His assistance led to the seizure of $190,000 in drug proceeds and the conviction of eight individuals. His readiness to testify led to the convictions of 16 others and the seizure of 17 kilograms of cocaine shipped to Washington.
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) completely revamped the inmate telephone system after officials heard Edmond explain how he and other inmates exploited their phone privileges for criminal purposes because they knew most calls were not monitored.
Eliminating inmates’ ability to make long distance or conference calls were among the changes the BOP implemented in 1998.
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