Stanfield and Boardley Investigations
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.
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.
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.