Calvin Agus, also known as Sykes was found guilty yesterday of conspiracy to violate federal narcotics laws in connection with his role in an alleged heroin ring in Northwest Washington that grossed more than $20,000 a day.
The verdict was returned by a jury in U.S. District Court at the close of a week-long trial in which the government called numerous past and present drug addicts to buttress its contention that Agurs, 28, headed the operation.
"he was The Candy Man, The Boss," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Adelman, the chief prosecutor, in a closing argument Thursday. "It was Calvin Agurs that made everything happen."
Although it was not part of the government's case, it came out during the trial that four persons died and 33 others were hospitalized last Nov. 12 as a result of taking super-strength doses of what was known along "The Stip" at 14th and U Street NW as "Sykes' dope."
Adelman said the operation was run from various apartments in the are of 14th and U. He said the heroin - known as "Mexican mud" because of its brownish color - was said to addicts by runners, many of whom were addicts themselves.
The runners would take money from addict-buyers with the heroin. Agurs rarely appeared at these operations, Adelman said.
"Everything was set up so he would be insulated," the prosecutor said. "But he was The Rainmaker. He was no runner, no inside man - he was the businessman.
"He directed, controlled, and reaped sell narcotics."
Kenneth Robinson, Agurs' defense attorney, maintained that others charged in the conspiracy had, in effectM "invented" Sykes in order to shift the blame from themselves. He called witnesses who testified that another man known as Sykes was actually the kingpin of the ring.
"It is awful indeed to be a dope dealer," the flamboyant Robinson argued to the jury. "But don't hold heroin against us. Heroin is a monster to everyone. But don't try to convict an innocent man on worthless evidence."
Eighteen persons originally were charged with conspiracy and related narcotics offenses. In pretrial manuverings, charges against two were dropped. Seven others pleaded guilty. Eight were granted separate trials.
Sykes remained impassive throughout the closing arguments, as he had during earlier parts of the trial. Shortly before the jury came in with its verdict, he made a "thumbs down" gesture to his wife, Francine, who was sitting among the spectators. He heard the verdict with no outward show of emotion.
The conspiracy of which he was convicted carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. He also had three years to serve after a 1972 narcotics conviction for which he was on probation at the time of his arrest Jan. 17.
Witnesses called during the case included several persons who said they had been part of the narcotics operation. One was a 15-year-old youth who said he had been hired to guard the apartments from which the dope was distributed and to shoot anyone who tried to rob them.
Another was William Arthur Graham, 30, a self-styled customer of the alleged ring. Det. Charles L. Marcum of the metropolitan police narcotics division, credited Graham with giving investigators crucial help in cracking the case following the overdose deaths and illnesses.
Graham, who was given immunity from prosecution for his assistance and who is now in the protective custody of U.S. marshals, testified that he himself became ill after taking a does of the super-strength "Mexican mud" in November.
When the other overdoses and the deaths were reported in the news media, he said, he decided to call police and tell them what he knew. Marcum made contact with him, he told the jury, and asked him to make "a buy."
He did so. But the operation was moved to another apartment. Marcum asked him to make another buy. He tried to do so, he said, by going to the address he had used before in the 1800 block of 17th Street NW. The idea was that Graham's runner would go to the new location to get the heroin and that Marcum would follow the runner.
Marcum related after the trial that while we was following the runner he was ordered by his superiors to help execute a search warrant of the 17th Street address. So he had to break off his surveillance.
At that point, according to Graham's testimony, Graham agreed to go to a house frequented by his suppliers. He and the girl friend of a dealer were arrested there by Marcum and other officers. Both were taken to police headquarters.
Marcum then told the woman she could not be released on immediate bond because of her prior record. But he arranged for Graham, whose "arrest" had been faked, to talk to her alone. In that meeting, the woman gave Graham the address of the new apartment.
It was in the 1700 block of Seaton Street NW within sight of the garage of third district headquarters.