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Stanfield and Boardley Investigations

Stanfield Investigation

The investigative process—incorporating controlled arrests, random interviews, and grand jury investigations—was developed during the 1986 Timmirror Stanfield homicide investigation. Stanfield, a classic gang leader, was 25 years old when he was indicted. He headed a drug gang of more than 50 members that controlled South Baltimore's Westport area and West Baltimore's Murphy Homes housing project. The gang was extremely violent and had grown so bold that it denied postal workers access to Westport on their daily rounds.

The gang was responsible for several murders, and the investigation focused on four of the murders that occurred at the 725 George Street highrise. Former Maryland State Attorney Kurt Schmoke authorized Assistant State Attorney Howard Gersh to use a special grand jury to investigate the gang. Approximately 40 gang members and other neighborhood witnesses testified before the panel. Within 5 months, the four cases were prepared for trial, with 15 gang members ready to testify against Stanfield. Three of the cases were presented for prosecution, and convictions were secured against the nucleus of the gang.

Boardley Investigation

With certain modifications and on a larger scale, the investigative process developed in the Stanfield case was used in the Boardley investigation with equally impressive results. Warren Boardley, Nadir Abdullah, and Christopher Burrows controlled a vast drug distribution network centered in the Lexington Terrace/Poe Homes housing project and spreading throughout the West Baltimore and Cherry Hill areas of the city. The gang employed four full-time gunmen and used eight others, all hired by contract.

The scope of this investigation was broader than the Stanfield investigation in that it sought to employ the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act statute, which used murder, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering as the predicated crimes. The results were similarly impressive. Several members turned against the gang nucleus, even though the core group was not incarcerated while the grand jury was sitting.

The investigative process employed in the Boardley investigation works because of the way in which each gang member is bonded to the gang. In areas where gangs flourish, gang membership to achieve status and money is an accepted norm, like pursuing an education, a job, or sports. Consequently, youth with minimal or no criminal tendencies are drawn to gangs and fall under the tutelage of gang leaders. Most members do not comprehend the scope of the gang's lawlessness and are not prepared for the types of crime assigned to them. The degree of adaptation or corruption depends on the individual's proclivity for crime. The assignment to commit a criminal act occurs before the subject is able to make an intelligent choice. Therefore, the subject becomes committed to the gang despite strong reservations that may linger.

The Stanfield investigation was developed and prosecuted by the state. The Boardley investigation was a joint effort by state and federal authorities. Both investigations were successful, and both approaches have their merits. A joint investigation takes advantage of the strengths of each. A major weakness, highlighted in the Boardley investigation, is the lack of clearly established lines of responsibility among the federal and local participants.

Investigations' Conclusions

From the evidence gathered in the Stanfield and Boardley investigations, it appears that only a few members adopted the violent mentality of the core group. The majority of gang members appear to be trapped between their essentially good upbringing and their fear of the gang's violence. Those members who are uncertain and confused are the ones who the investigators target. The process proposes to resolve a subject's conflicts by offering a safe alternative to the gang—cooperation with government officials.

The investigative strategy achieves its primary goals. This process disempowers the leader, disrupts the integrity of the gang, and generates new evidence that leads to successful prosecutions of the gang's nucleus. The investigative process has a significant impact on both those who cooperate and those who are prosecuted. Based on 1998 data, the Murphy Homes area—formerly known as the Murder Homes—has not experienced new gang or gang-related murders. Drug dealing still exists in the neighborhood, but not with the degree of organization or violence imposed by the former gang.

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