September 26, 2022

Dyers Ville

Business and General

Rapper Biz Markie’s manager wore a wire against Baltimore

Just lately unsealed court docket data supply new insight into the lengthy-simmering investigation into Baltimore powerhouse legal professional Kenneth Ravenell, who is currently on demo in U.S. District Court docket for racketeering conspiracy and revenue laundering.

A 2014 lookup warrant for Ravenell’s legislation office environment at the time demonstrates that the Drug Enforcement Administration experienced a cooperator within the drug corporation of Richard Byrd, a longtime Ravenell client who was trafficking cannabis across the place.

The cooperator was Lamont Wanzer, the longtime pal and business lover of “Just a Friend” rapper Biz Markie. Wanzer is not determined by identify in the look for warrant affidavit, but in transcribed discussions he is frequently named “Monty,” which is his nickname, and is asked about BizMont, a corporation he ran with Biz Markie.

Wanzer and Byrd ran a advertising and marketing and occasions corporation named Loc Marketing that Byrd testified past 7 days was a entrance to launder Byrd’s drug proceeds.

Markie was not implicated in the criminal scenario, and he died from troubles of diabetic issues this previous July at a hospital in Baltimore.

Wanzer died at the age of 45 in November 2014, immediately after what a relative explained on Facebook at the time as a prolonged fight with cancer. It’s unclear regardless of whether his dying contributed to the 5-12 months gap between when prosecutors raided Ravenell’s business office and when they eventually introduced charges.

Byrd later on located out that Wanzer was recording his discussions.

“Lamont Wanzer was carrying a wire into people conferences the full time. There is a good deal of s— the govt picked up that probably they just cannot use now,” Byrd stated in a recorded 2018 meeting with Ravenell’s attorneys, referring to Wanzer’s dying.

In the intervening many years, prosecutors continued doing work to get convicted customers of the drug corporation to cooperate towards Ravenell, successfully flipping at least four of them who are testifying at the attorney’s trial, which include Byrd. A further convicted co-conspirator who is out of prison agreed to testify less than partial immunity and took the stand Monday.

Ravenell has pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice. His lawyers told jurors that he did not knowingly acknowledge drug proceeds, and that other actions he took for the Byrd firm have been part of his job as a defense lawyer.

Prosecutors referred to as Ravenell’s assistant of 20 a long time, Deborah Ness, to testify about cash from Byrd that flowed through Ravenell’s law business, but she testified Monday that she never noticed him do just about anything incorrect

“He is a extremely straightforward, challenging-performing, focused-to-all-his-shoppers, Christian male, and I have the utmost regard for him,” Ness stated on cross-assessment.

The 83-web page search warrant from 2014 for Ravenell’s then-business lays out information law enforcement had collected at that place, and its initiatives to tie Ravenell to the drug corporation, which would not culminate in prices till 2019. Among them were money transactions that flowed by way of Ravenell’s law company.

The cooperator — now identified to be Wanzer — began to report discussions with users of the Byrd group in May 2013, DEA Process Force Officer David Phillips wrote in the Aug. 26, 2014, lookup warrant. Byrd experienced been indicted in April 2014, and is serving 26 many years in jail.

Phillips wrote that the cooperator “has 1st-hand know-how about the enterprise dealings and tactics of Loc Marketing” and that he had recommended Phillips “that the Byrd [drug trafficking organization] applied Loc Advertising to launder substantial quantities of currency that [he] believed were being the proceeds of narcotics sales.”

Phillips wrote that it was his perception “that Ravenell’s romantic relationship with Byrd is these kinds of that Ravenell is conscious of his client’s participation in the drug organization.”

Wanzer recorded a number of conversations, like at the very least two with Ravenell that Philips explained in the search warrant.

Wanzer consistently expressed annoyance with the administration of Loc Marketing’s resources, indicating that Byrd was not being mindful and that it was drawing awareness of authorities — at 1 stage prompting Wanzer’s financial institution accounts to be shut down.

One particular of Wanzer’s recorded calls with Ravenell happened in June 2014 when Wanzer was in a healthcare facility mattress recovering from cancer-related surgical procedure.

“I did not fully grasp. I retained on telling them, like you bought to allow me know. You just simply cannot do that things,” Wanzer advised Ravenell on June 17, 2014, referring to cash remaining wired out of the enterprise accounts in a way that could arouse suspicion.

“Where was the dollars going?” Ravenell questioned.

“Some of it went to you. Or Murphy, Falcon, & No matter what,” Wanzer stated.

“Right,” Ravenell replied.

Ravenell criticized the way Loc Advertising was using its cash but did not appear to make any incriminating statements about drug funds being co-mingled.

“I saw these contracts the place you guys paid out all this dollars to these artists. If you’re paying out out all this dollars to the artists and you’re not creating cash … you are stupid,” Ravenell informed Wanzer in the course of the June 2014 simply call. “I mean, Diddy, and all these other men, you men gave them a good deal of money so if you’re paying out all that money it would be the worst form of dollars laundering exactly where you get all the dollars and give it to any individual else.”

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In discussions recorded by Wanzer, there have been discussions about acquiring collectively to straighten out paperwork with Ravenell and a Maryland attorney who specializes in accounting, Edward Leyden.

Leyden took section in meetings with associates of the conspiracy and was recorded on many occasions but has not been charged in the case. Leyden declined to remark previous 7 days, referring inquiries to an attorney who did not answer to recurring messages searching for remark.

Quite a few members of the drug conspiracy ultimately pleaded guilty to federal rates, and Assistant U.S. Lawyer James Warwick continued to go after them about cooperating, according to testimony at Ravenell’s trial.

Jerome Castle, who managed East Coast functions for the drug group, flipped in April 2016 and testified Monday.

“[Warwick] mentioned he would like my assistance, and am I inclined to help. I reported yeah,” Castle reported on the stand.

Byrd said Warwick courted him as perfectly, visiting Byrd in jail in June 2017, and once more above three days in August 2017, when Byrd agreed to cooperate. The two males said prosecutors have submitted for a sentence reduction in trade for their testimony.

Richard Drummond, who aided make dollars operates and was caught undertaking so in Ohio in 2013, testified under confined immunity Monday.