Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Mafia" Not Mentioned During Trial

Federal prosecutors stayed true to their word and Mafia was never said in court on Tuesday in the second day of a drug trafficking case that involves a Cabot man.

Prosecutors contend that Cabot’s George Wylie Thompson worked with East Coast mobster Ralph Francis Deleo in a conspiracy to move a little more than two kilograms, or 4.5 pounds, of cocaine from Los Angeles to Boston.

If convicted, Thompson faces 10 years to life in prison, while Deleo could get from five years to 40.

This is the first of three trials for Thompson. He returns to federal court Dec. 7 when he and North Little Rock Alderman Sam Baggett face gun charges. The third trial is in 2011 when Thompson and former North Little Rock alderman Cary Gaines face public corruption charges.
Dale West, an attorney for Deleo, filed a motion Tuesday morning granted by U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes that said, “Deleo’s alleged association with the Mafia” would “not be mentioned at trial.”

“Our position is that we’re not going to do that,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Hoey, who is leading the prosecution team.

But FBI Special Agent Gerald Spurgers came close when he testified as a witness.

Under cross-examination by Thompson attorney Jason Files, Spurgers hinted at a much larger criminal conspiracy that involved Thompson when he was asked how the FBI got involved.
“It started as an investigation of money laundering and other violations,” Spurgers said.

The answer sent Files, the other attorneys and Holmes into a conference that lasted just a few minutes. When it broke, Files’ questions turned to the FBI’s surveillance tactics of Thompson.

Also making appearances as witnesses Tuesday were Jacksonville attorney Hubert Alexander, who said he had represented Thompson in the past and Tri Cam Le, now a prisoner in the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Le had been arrested on Dec. 12, 2008, in Lonoke County and was found to be in possession of the cocaine that he was transporting to Boston.
Alexander, at Thompson’s request, had represented Le on the drug charges. Thompson loaned Le $5,000 to pay Alexander and also had arranged for him to be bailed out of jail.

Le was sentenced to 14 years and Alexander said, “I got the best deal I could get him.”

Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Harris, Le said buying the drugs had been his idea.

“I’m the one who offered,” Le said in broken English and told Thompson he knew someone in California who could sell him large quantities of drugs. Thompson told Deleo, who then sent Le $50,000 in cash by FedEx to purchase the drugs.

The cocaine was to cost $45,000, with the remainder as a payment to Le and to cover his travel expenses.

Le said he was out of work, broke and needed the money. He was working with Thompson, who has admitted to being a bookmaker, in a gambling operation. Le, who is fluent in at least four Asian languages, worked with Thompson’s Asian bettors.

If Le, who already was under surveillance by the FBI in December 2008, had been successful, Deleo said the plan was to make regular drug runs every two or three months.

After Le was arrested, Thompson and Deleo talked about their options.

Among the things they discussed on the wiretap that was played in court were bribing an Arkansas State Police employee to make the cocaine seized as evidence disappear.

“You know, maybe 10 can go in that person’s direction,” Deleo said. “Then that would solve all our problems.”

They also discussed how unlucky Le was to be caught just a few minutes after leaving Little Rock.

“So it was, you know, a fluke,” Thompson said and Deleo agreed.

What they didn’t know was that Lonoke County-based state Trooper Vic Coleman had been tipped off by the FBI about Le’s drug mule work and the ensuing traffic stop was done under the watchful but distant eye of federal agents.

“The investigation was ongoing and we didn’t want to compromise the wire,” Spurgers said to explain why he and other agents kept their distance on Interstate 40.

The wiretap on Thompson didn’t lapse until March 2009, or three months after the arrest. It also formed the basis of the charges against Gaines and Baggett, along with Thompson, that were filed under a separate indictment.

Thompson didn’t learn of the FBI’s involvement until May 12, 2009, when search warrants were executed on three different pieces of property he owned, including his home at 14 Oak Meadows and his nearby karate studio.

“That was our first overt action,” Spurgers said. “Everything prior was covert.

Thompson told the FBI then he worked as an illegal bookmaker.

Holmes also denied a mistrial request by the defense attorneys who claimed that evidence introduced by prosecutors hadn’t been allowed by the judge.

Blake Hendrix and West had asked that portions of the wiretaps not be introduced as evidence, specifically the portions that introduce the criminal pasts of both Thompson and Deleo.

While Holmes had ruled that portions of the wiretap were not to be admitted, the judge approved the portion that the prosecution played.

The trial continues at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Little Rock.



Post a Comment