An Alexandria man who prosecutors say was a key figure in marijuana and hashish smuggling operations in Northern Virginia that grossed an estimated $100 million since 1974 is scheduled to go on trial today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Leon Durwood Harvey, 37, is charged with importing marijuana and hashish from the Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico and Lebanon. He allegedly supplied some of the drugs to the distribution ring run by McLean brothers Christopher and Robert Reckmeyer, according to the 25-count indictment of Harvey.
The Reckmeyer brothers, who pleaded guilty last year to running a multimillion-dollar drug operation based in Northern Virginia, are among 86 unindicted coconspirators named in the indictment of Harvey, which was returned in October, and the Reckmeyers are expected to be prosecution witnesses at Harvey's trial.
Last Friday, Harvey, who could be given a maximum penalty of life imprisonment with no parole if convicted, waived his right to trial by jury because he "believes he can get justice from any judge in this district," according to his attorney, John Zwerling.
U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. will preside at the trial.
Harvey, who has twice been convicted of drug-related charges and faces pending charges in two other jurisdictions, is also accused in the Alexandria indictment of setting up dummy corporations here, in the Caribbean and in Europe to conceal drug profits. On various occasions, Harvey allegedly had couriers take more than $1.3 million in cash to the Bahamas without reporting the transfer to U.S. Customs, the indictment says.
The indictment accuses Harvey of tax evasion, customs violations, illegal gun possession, racketeering and obstruction of justice in connection with an alleged attempt to bribe a witness subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Alexandria.
The indictment and four prior indictments against Harvey, known to his friends as "Smiley," portray a man who allegedly continued drug smuggling after he was aware that he was a target of a grand jury investigation in Alexandria -- on some occasions allegedly conducting illicit business from a federal penitentiary.
Until his arrest in September in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he had been a fugitive for three years -- a time during which many of his alleged former associates were convicted on drug-related charges, according to court records.
According to papers filed by the government, much of the evidence against Harvey at his trial will come from those individuals.
As in the Reckmeyer operation, Harvey and his alleged coconspirators are accused of setting aside part of their illicit proceeds to pay for attorney's fees and bail if members of the ring were arrested. According to his indictment, Harvey "supervised" 35 people, including his brothers, Thomas and Michael, and Robert Reckmeyer.
Harvey has been a target of Alexandria federal grand jury investigations into drug smuggling in the Northern Virginia area since 1981, according to court records. The investigations, conducted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen P. Tandy, involved agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and the FBI.
The indictment asserts that the drug operations Harvey allegedly helped run used more than 40 "stash houses" in the area, 30 in Virginia, to store tons of marijuana and hashish.
The drugs were smuggled into South Carolina and Virginia by sea, according to the indictment.
In one instance, on July 4, 1979, Harvey allegedly distributed about 3,500 pounds of marijuana to Robert Reckmeyer in Falmouth, Mass. In June 1980 he allegedly received two suitcases in Hilton Head, S.C., containing $1.7 million as payment for 13,000 pounds of hashish, the indictment states.
The indictment charges that in April 1981 Harvey paid Phillip Marinovich to leave the United States to avoid testifying before a grand jury, and three months later he allegedly offered Marinovich $200,000 to stay abroad.
Three months after that, Harvey and others allegedly smuggled 80,000 pounds of hashish from Lebanon into Virginia Beach, Va., the indictment says.
The indictment alleges that Harvey claimed that he owed a total of $8,860 in federal income taxes for 1978 through 1980. Prosecutors said in 1982 in court that he owed $664,278 on more than $1 million in income during that period.
Harvey, who according to his indictment used at least eight aliases, was convicted in Alexandria in 1974 of conspiracy and interstate travel to commit an illegal act. He served time in federal prison and was released. Four years later, he was convicted by a federal court in Georgia of conspiracy to import hashish and was sentenced to six months.
The government has moved to seize all of Harvey's assets, which it says include two Mercedes-Benz cars, property in Hilton Head, gems, oriental carpets, antiques, boats, individual retirement accounts and bank accounts in Switzerland, Canada, the Caribbean and the European principality of Liechtenstein.
Two men indicted with Harvey on drug-related charges, James L. Marquez and Donald D. Stenger Jr., are still at large.
Harvey also faces federal charges in South Carolina and North Carolina of running a continuing criminal enterprise of drug importing, conspiracy to import drugs and possession of drugs with intent to distribute.