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Slaying Victim Was Informant, Records Show

Man Who Was Shot in Pr. William Pleaded Guilty to Drug Charge, Worked Undercover

By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 14, 2004; Page B02

The D.C. bouncer who was fatally shot outside his fiancee's Manassas area apartment last week by an unknown assailant was convicted on a cocaine charge in the late 1990s and worked undercover on a federal drug case, court records show.

Ronald Norman McCorn, 29, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in March 1998 and wore a wire to ensnare two suspects, according to the documents.

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Richard E. Trodden, Arlington County's chief prosecutor, said yesterday that McCorn agreed to provide assistance to authorities so he could receive a lighter sentence. Just before McCorn was sentenced on the cocaine charge in May 2000, he wrote a letter to Arlington Circuit Court Judge William T. Newman Jr., asking for leniency:

"Since this happened the only contact I've had with wrong-doers was set up by Detectives Tom Hanula and Robert Smith to make buys for them for a future bust on a federal case. I even wore wires when I made buys," he said in the three-page handwritten letter. ". . . I was scared."

It is not known whether McCorn's slaying is linked to his criminal history or his cooperation with law enforcement officials. Prince William County police are examining McCorn's background -- as they would that of any victim -- for clues to his slaying, said Sgt. Richard Cantarella, a violent crimes detective.

"We're chipping away. People's histories are always part of the investigation. Obviously we do a full work-up on the background," Cantarella said, even though some of McCorn's friends and relatives "are going to say he's squeaky clean."

About 6:20 p.m. Thursday, a man wearing a hooded jacket with fur knocked on the door of McCorn's fiancee's home in the 9800 block of Shallow Creek Loop and asked for him. McCorn, known by the nickname "Six" because of his 6-foot-7 frame, walked outside with the man and was found lying on the ground with a gunshot wound about 20 minutes later. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

McCorn's fiancee, Lekaysha Hogan, yesterday gave birth to their second child. She declined to comment. A relative said the family was not aware that McCorn had a drug history.

"We knew nothing about his past. We're the type of people that whatever is in the past is in the past. He was trying to make a future," said the relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the killer has not been caught.

Trodden, the Arlington commonwealth's attorney, said McCorn's criminal history is extensive. In addition to the cocaine possession charge, the former mover and nightclub bouncer was convicted of credit card fraud and burglary in Fairfax County in 1995 and was charged with -- but found not guilty of -- cocaine distribution in Alexandria in 1996.

His cocaine possession charge in Arlington entangled him in the legal system for several years. On July 24, 1997, McCorn, who was living in Woodbridge at the time, was arrested in Arlington and released on bond.

After pleading guilty in March 1998, McCorn was accused of violating his probation for not meeting with a probation officer to prepare his pre-sentencing report. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest, and a judge later warned him to attend his meetings with the probation officer.

In May 2000, Newman sentenced him to five years in prison, suspending all five years. As part of McCorn's probation, the judge ordered him to complete a drug counseling program at the White Post Detention and Diversion Center Incarceration Program in Clarke County, Va. A little less than a year later, he was released.

The sentencing range for McCorn's cocaine possession charge, given his criminal history at the time, was a minimum of two years and two months and a maximum of four years and one month, Trodden said.

McCorn "got a break," Trodden said. "It must have been the work he was doing" by going undercover, he said.

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