Corey A. Moore, who became a street legend for avoiding a murder conviction after four separate trials, was ordered held in jail without bond yesterday on charges of running a drug-trafficking network and was also accused by prosecutors of intimidating witnesses.
Moore, once listed by the FBI as one of the most dangerous people in the District, was arrested at his home in Northeast Washington on Saturday. Authorities executing a search warrant uncovered sizable amounts of heroin, cocaine, crack, PCP, drug-packaging equipment and guns in the homes of Moore and his associates, and at the offices of Moore's court investigation business, according to a federal indictment that was unsealed yesterday.
The indictment accuses Moore and three others of a four-year-long conspiracy to bring large amounts of drugs from places such as Arizona, California and Missouri to be sold to mid-level dealers in the District and Washington's suburbs.
Moore, 29, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Appearing yesterday at a detention hearing wearing an orange jumpsuit, he watched attentively as U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth concluded that he was too much of a threat to the community to be released.
Prosecutors told the judge yesterday that they had evidence that Moore helped criminal defendants intimidate witnesses and obstruct justice. But they did not elaborate on the allegations, and no such charges are part of the indictment.
Moore had two other notable items in his possession when he was arrested at his home on Ebart Street, prosecutors said: a bag they described as an "assassin's tool kit" that was hanging from his coat rack and which contained a .357 magnum, a ski mask and a glove, and a T-shirt in his hands that advertised "Omerta Pest Control" and offered "24-Hour Service: Get Rid of Your Rats Today."
Lamberth said the tool kit and the Omerta T-shirt were key factors in his decision to jail Moore.
The T-shirt is well-known in the federal courthouse. In a recent gang trial before Lamberth, an associate of one of the defendants entered the courtroom wearing the Omerta shirt during the testimony of a key government witness. "Omerta," usually associated with cases involving the Mafia, is code for an oath of silence.
"That's really troublesome to me," Lamberth said.
The latest charges will pit prosecutors against a familiar nemesis.
Over the years, Moore has been charged with three murders, assault with intent to kill, assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery. Each violent crime charge has been dismissed before trial or resulted in acquittal. The most-publicized case involved the 1994 slaying of a man in Congress Heights. Moore stood trial four times, and each time the jury was deadlocked. Prosecutors dropped the murder charge in 2001.
Moore was convicted only once, in 1996, of a weapons charge that netted him a 51-month prison term.
Last year, Moore appeared on the cover of a magazine called Don Diva, which called him "DC's Teflon Defendant." He and his family have insisted that he has been a target of corrupt prosecutions. Jurors often agreed, telling prosecutors that they thought that the slight, well-groomed, studious-looking man was set up by enemies or police.
After so many years as a defendant, Moore found work in the criminal justice system. In recent years, he worked for a company called Dream Team Investigations, in which he and his associates were hired by defense attorneys and paid with public funds as "court investigators." Such investigators help find and interview witnesses who could help defendants, mostly in cases involving gangs and drugs.
The work landed Moore in a controversy last summer in another case involving Lamberth.
The judge and prosecutors learned that Moore was working as a defense investigator aiding Bryan Bostick, an alleged gang member and convicted murderer charged in another slaying. Lamberth sharply questioned how the court system could allow people with criminal records, including Moore and associate Frederick A. Miller, to visit witnesses in the community as well as defendants in jail during trials. He noted that the work was publicly funded.
Lamberth barred Moore from getting any more paid defense work from the court, and he asked prosecutors to investigate.
The results of that investigation have not been made public. Yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Julius Rothstein cited intimidation tactics in pushing to keep Moore locked up pending trial.
"The fact that he's been involved in the intimidation of witnesses, that he's now involved in large-scale drug trafficking and at the same time was assisting a person involved in a [racketeering] conspiracy . . . suggests the government has enough evidence to show he poses a serious risk to the community," Rothstein said.
But Moore's attorney, Richard Seligman, told Lamberth that the government had provided no tangible evidence that Moore had intimidated witnesses while working as an investigator.
"We have a series of assertions from prosecutors which really don't amount to anything," Seligman said. "It perhaps shows poor judgment by the defense attorney in choosing a court investigator."
"To say the least," Lamberth responded.
The others charged in the drug conspiracy case and held without bond, according to newly unsealed court records, are: Miller, Gerald W. Eiland and Timothy R. Thomas. Eiland also worked for Dream Team at times. Thomas, also know as "Old Time," is described by prosecutors as the manager and chief of the drug conspiracy.
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.