Six Sentenced in One of Maryland's Largest Drug Cases Ever

Greenbelt - 12/21/2006

Six members of a large drug trafficking enterprise operating in Maryland, the District of Columbia, California, New York, Texas and Wyoming were sentenced this week following their convictions by a federal jury on August 31, 2006 on cocaine, crack and heroin distribution, using communication devices to facilitate drug trafficking, and firearms charges.

U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein said, "This is one of the largest drug cases ever prosecuted in federal court in Greenbelt. The coordinated efforts of many law enforcement agencies in this investigation and prosecution resulted in shutting down a gang that brought cocaine, crack and illegal guns into our community."

Sentenced this week were:
Paulette Martin, 60 of Takoma Park, life in prison;
LaNora Ali, 53 of Hyattsville, a public D.C. school teacher at the time of the drug activities, 10 years in prison;
Learley Reed Goodwin, 64, of Hyattsville, life in prison;
Reece Coleman Whiting, 66 of Baltimore, life in prison;
Derrek Lewis Bynum, 34 of Hyattsville, 25 years in prison;
Lavon Dobie, 46 of Washington, D.C., 17 years, 2 months in prison.

According to evidence presented during the 10 week trial, the defendants conspired from at least January 1997 to June 2004 to distribute cocaine, heroin and cocaine base. Goodwin and Martin conspired to import kilogram quantities of cocaine from New York, California, Wyoming, Florida, Texas and Mexico. During the course of the investigation over 20 kilograms of cocaine and over 3 kilograms of heroin were seized. Several of the couriers delivering the drugs have pled guilty and are serving time on related charges. In all, 27 defendants have been convicted in connection with this case.

Evidence revealed that Martin and Dobie were also involved in a conspiracy involving the importation of heroin from New York to the Baltimore/D.C. metro area. Testimony showed that Whiting, a convicted international heroin and cocaine smuggler who also holds a law degree, provided his knowledge about the drug world and served as legal advisor to Martin and others in the conspiracy.

Dobie, Bynum and Ali, a D.C. public school teacher since 1977, working at Shadd Elementary School as a computer lab teacher at the time of her arrest, purchased cocaine and cocaine base from Martin and sold the drugs to others. Bynum and Dobie were also convicted of possessing a firearm in furtherance of the drug conspiracy. At Martin’s request, Ali stored approximately $130,000 in cash at her residence. After Martin’s neighbors complained to the Takoma Park Police about the volume of traffic at Martin’s house, Ali helped Martin move her drug business to Paula’s School of Performing Arts located at 5559 South Dakota Avenue in Washington D.C.

Co-defendants Milburn Pollard Walker, Jr., 59 of Washington, D.C., and George Linsey Harris, 54, of Mitchellville, pled guilty prior to trial to  the use of communication devices to facilitate drug trafficking and face a maximum sentence of 4 years.  Judge Titus has scheduled sentencing for Walker on Dec. 20 and for Harris on Dec. 22.

Co-defendant Gwendolyn Levi, 61, of Elkridge, who supplied kilograms of heroin to Martin, pled guilty on April 19, 2005 to the drug conspiracy. She was sentenced on Oct. 6, 2006 to 35 years in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Moises Uriarte, 32 of New York, who supplied kilograms of heroin to Martin and Dobie also pled guilty and was sentenced to 121 months in prison.