As Air Force Sgt. Joseph W. Sorrell recalled it yesterday, it was just about three years ago when he and his bride-to-be "were sitting around snorting heroin" with Dirty Bob when Dirty Bob said he knew a way the couple could make some money for their honeymoon.
Sorrell told a federal court jury that the man he knew as Dirty Bob - actually Robert W. Young Sr. - called him the next day and repeated the offer, saying the couple "could make $100,000 to $150,000" within a year "if we were interested in taking a business trip" or two.
A short time later, Sorrell said, he and his fiance, Greta Terry, were introduced to Linwood Gray and Carl L. (Deke) Cathey Jr., who he said told them that all they had to do to get $5,000 and expense money was "go on a trip and bring back a package."
As it turned out, Sorrell said, he and Greta Terry were married on July 24, 1976, and spent their honeymoon - all expenses paid - in Copenhagen and Amsterdam as couriers in what federal prosecutors allege was a massive, $30 million heroin importation scheme masterminded by Gray.
Sorrell, 25, was serving in Korea when he was subpoenaed last July to testify before a grand jury here investigating the smuggling operation. On Independence Day, he agreed to become a government witness in exchange for a promise that he would not be prosecuted.
Yesterday, in 35 minutes of testimony, he gave the eight-woman, fourman jury a hint of life as a drug smuggler. Today he is expected to tell the jury about four more trips to Europe he allegedly made for Gray.
But before the Sorrells were hired, Sorrell said, Gray questioned them.
"Did either of us have a record?" Sorrell quoted Gary as asking. "We said, 'No.' Did we use drugs? We used drugs, but Dirty Bob said when we went to the meeting [with Gray] to say we had not used drugs."
At the end of the job interview, Sorrell said Gray asked if they had any questions, but Ernest H. Minder, another courier who later accompanied the Sorrells, interrupted and reassured them.
"Me's know what to do. Me's been there before," Sorrell recalled Minder saying, and everyone laughed at Minder's know-it-all claim.
Although Sorrell did not testify exactly what it was that Gray wanted him and his wife to bring back from Amsterdam, he said Gray assured them that if they got arrested there "would be a bank account [for the defense] and lawyers for us."
After obtaining passports and getting married, Sorrell said, the newly weds spent their wedding night at the Watergate Hotel with money given to them by Gray, who also sent them watches as gifts.
The next morning, Sorrell testified, Deke Cathey drove them to National Airport for a shuttle flight to New York. Sorrell said Gray gave them $100 at the airport for the shuttle. Robert L. Stuckey and Clarence Salmon Jr., two others currently on trial, were there for the sendoff as well, Sorrell said.
Dressed for his court appearance yesterday in a crisp-looking pearl gray three-piece suit, Sorrell said Minder met them at LaGuardia Airport in New York and shared a taxi to Kennedy International Airport for their flight to Copenhagen.
He said they spent only five or six hours in Copenhagen, but made a purchase in the duty-free shop at the Copenhagen airport before boarding the flight to Amsterdam.
Minder "gave us some money and told us each to buy two cartons of Marl boro hard packs and a bottle of liquor," Sorrell said.
At that point in Sorrell's story, U.S. District Judge William B. Bryant halted the trial for the day.
The indictment against Gray and his 11 codefendants alleges that heroin was substituted for tobacco in the cigarettes and then smuggled back into the United States, usually through Chicago, but sometimes through Montreal.
The jury will not hear Minder's or Dirty Bob Young's or Greta Terry-Sorrell's versions of Sorrell's versions of Sorrell's story. Minder was found shot to death in his white Cadillac in Southeast Washington last October; Young, who is charged in the current case, is a fugitive and Greta Sorrell was shot to death in her Capitol Heights apartment in January 1977.