Bernard Bailor, the attorney for accused drug dealer Christopher Reckmeyer, told a federal magistrate Wednesday that his client posed no danger of dealing in drugs if released on bond because Reckmeyer has become well known after his indictment on charges of heading a major drug ring in Loudoun County. In some editions yesterday, the quotation appeared to be attributed to a law-enforcement officer because of a deleted paragraph.
Christopher F. Reckmeyer, a millionaire who says he has eaten only apples for the last five days in D.C. Jail because of food allergies, pleaded not guilty in federal court yesterday to a charge of masterminding a major drug ring based in Loudoun County.
After four hours of sharply contrasting testimony, U.S. Magistrate W. Curtis Sewell said: "I'm not certain what to do" about setting bond for Reckmeyer.
Federal prosecutors pleaded against allowing him bond, describing the 33-year-old Reckmeyer as the leader of a drug operation that distributed 293 tons of marijuana and hashish and a man who earned $11 million from drug dealing since 1974.
But an Episcopal minister told the court that Reckmeyer was "a solid and committed family man" who attended weekly Bible class in Leesburg. His lawyer said Reckmeyer would not go anywhere because he is penniless at the moment since all his assets have been seized by the federal government.
Sewell said he would decide by Friday whether Reckmeyer, who was indicted Jan. 9 along with his 30-year-old brother Robert and 24 others, will be released on bond pending a trial March 18. Federal authorities transferred Christopher Reckmeyer to a jail in Northern Virginia after he complained that he could not eat food at the D.C. Jail.
Indicted on 14 counts of drug and tax charges, Christopher Reckmeyer surrendered to federal authorities in Alexandria Jan. 25. He had been a fugitive for 10 days, time his attorney Bernard Bailor told the court yesterday his client spent in New York City.
Smiling and laughing as evidence was presented against him, Reckmeyer repeatedly turned around during the testimony to face his parents and pregnant wife, in the Alexandria courtroom.
Reckmeyer's brother, who was arrested at his Centreville farm on Jan. 15 on 24 charges, including helping direct the drug enterprise, is being held without bond because a federal judge decided there was a high risk he would flee.
Even though State Police investigator Steven Straka said he had worked on the investigation for almost two years, he said he would not have recognized Reckmeyer "if he had walked by me today." He noted that Reckmeyer had cut his long hair and shaved the bushy red beard he had not trimmed "since he was 19 years old."
Prosecutor Karen P. Tandy described Christopher Reckmeyer as the man "at the top of the heap" of the the alleged operation, which laundered money through legitimate gem and Oriental rug companies and was based at Reckmeyer's 1,000-acre Shelburne Glebe estate.
So far federal and state agents have seized at the estate $208,502 in currency, 35 pounds of silver, false birth cerificates and 100 financial records that were requested by a federal grand jury, investigators said. Internal Revenue Service agent Thomas F. Cusick testified yesterday that he also found records indicating Reckmeyer planned to "buy a foreign island."
He added that there was no danger that Reckmeyer would "deal in drugs" while on bond because his client was so widely known since the "massive indictment" he "couldn't buy a joint at 14th Street NW and U Street with a $500 bill."