19 Defendants Have Pleaded Guilty to Federal Racketeering and Drug Conspiracies
Baltimore, Maryland – Anthony Preston, a/k/a "40," or "Tone," age 27, of Laurel, in Howard County Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to participate in a racketeering conspiracy, and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in connection with his membership in the Bloods gang operating primarily out of Howard County, Maryland.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William P. McMullan of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Howard County Police Chief Gary L. Gardner; Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts; and Howard County State’s Attorney Dario Broccolino.
According to his plea agreement, Preston was a member of the Bloods since at least 2007. Preston has supported fellow incarcerated gang members, participated in gang meetings and discussions regarding gang sanctions, and planned retaliation against gang members suspected of cooperation. Preston is a leader of the "Swann" set, a sub-group of the Bloods. Preston achieved the rank of "O.Y.G" or "O.G.," (Original Young Gangster or Original Gangster), terms used for a leader in the gang with authority over other Bloods members.
Preston and his co-defendants were identified as members of the Bloods as the result of a long term investigation conducted by ATF and the Howard County Police Department. The investigation included four court ordered wiretaps on gang members’ cell phones. The Bloods, a national criminal street gang with members operating in and around Howard County, Maryland, committed violent acts within the gang to maintain discipline, and against rival gangs.
The investigation began with an assault and robbery of an ATF confidential informant in Columbia, Maryland, on November 8, 2011. The ATF was planning a controlled purchase of firearms from co-defendant and fellow gang member Michael Johnson, a/k/a "Ace," a/k/a "Bloody Mike" after Johnson provided via text two photos of firearms, an assault rifle and a handgun, available for purchase by the CI. Instead, Johnson directed other gang members to rob the CI. Investigation revealed that Preston had been in contact with Johnson on the day of the robbery and was photographed holding the same rifle pictured in the texts sent to the ATF CI.
Among his criminal activities as a gang member, Preston admitted that he: attended gang meetings, supported incarcerated gang members, participated in discussion regarding gang sanctions, and planned and executed retaliation against others who he felt undermined his authority within the gang.
Preston also planned, participated and approved of acts of violence, and was a leader in drug trafficking to and with fellow gang members. Preston, and his Bloods associates, regularly carried firearms in connection with and in furtherance of their unlawful acts. Preston admitted to directing or participating in at least 4 assaults, including a March 18, 2012, assault over a drug debt during which Preston threatened to later return and "shoot up the place," a February 21, 2013, attempted assault of an individual causing problems with members and associates of Preston’s set, an April 12, 2013, attempted assault of someone Preston described as a "fake Blood," and an April 20, 2013, assault of a former gang member with a knife and mace in a convenience store. The convenience store assault was captured on video, and Preston is seen hitting the girlfriend of the gang member in her face and attempting to spray her with mace. Citizens, including a young child, were injured by the mace sprayed by Preston during the assault. Preston was later overheard by law enforcement admitting to the assault and stating that if he’d had his gun with him Preston would have killed the man.
Preston also admitted that he began selling drugs, including crack cocaine and oxycocone, as early as 2007. Between February and May 2013, Preston was intercepted on numerous wiretap calls with other co-defendants discussing narcotics sales. Two co-defendants each supplied Preston with at least 9000 mg of Oxycodone.
On May 8, 2013, law enforcement executed multiple search warrants and arrested approximately 20 individuals connected with the Bloods gang, including Preston. A search warrant executed at Preston’s residence recovered, among other things, a .22 caliber revolver, with one live round of ammunition, brass knuckles, various prescription pills, marijuana, $1,222 in cash, and several cellular telephones. Preston has prior convictions for armed robbery and attempted armed robbery, and, as a result, was prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Preston and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Preston will be sentenced to 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III scheduled sentencing for February 6, 2015, at 11:30 a.m.
To date, 19 defendants have pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering and drug conspiracies. Judge Russell has sentenced co-defendants Michael Dominique Johnson, a/k/a "Ace", age 20, of Columbia, Maryland to 205 months in prison and Kenneth Ragan-Armstrong, a/k/a "Keezy," age 23, of Savage and Laurel, Maryland, to 193 months in prison; and David Jerome Robertson, age 23, of Columbia, Maryland to 81 months in prison. Co-defendants Giovanni Wright, a/k/a "G," age 22, of Elkridge, Maryland, Ryan Gladden, a/k/a "Fats," age 26, and Kyle Austin, a/k/a "Fowdy," age 23, pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on January 16, 2015; December 12, 2014; and December 22, 2014, respectively.
Mr. Rosenstein commended the ATF, Howard County Police Department, Baltimore Police Department and Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in this investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachel M. Yasser and Sandra Wilkinson, who are prosecuting the case.