A Maryland corrections officer was accused of being a high-ranking member of the 8-Trey Crips street gang and indicted on 35 charges, including first-degree attempted murder, drug distribution and smuggling of contraband, state officials announced Thursday.
Antoine Fordham was the initial target of the nearly year-long investigation into gang activity in Maryland prisons by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
Fordham was among 26 people indicted last month in Anne Arundel Circuit Court for alleged gang activity. Others include Maryland corrections officer Phillipe Jordan and the mothers of three inmates.
"It's a disgrace that gangs are operating in our prisons. It's even worse where they're abetted by folks who have taken an oath to uphold the law," Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) said.
Authorities allege that Fordham oversaw much of the 8-Trey Crips' drug dealing and other illicit activities in Baltimore City, including authorizing or committing assaults. According to the indictment, Fordham also ran a large-scale, contraband-delivery operation in several Maryland correctional facilities, including Jessup Correctional Institution and Maryland Correctional Institution.
Fordham was previously arrested on charges he had illegal guns in his home and has been in jail for the past few months, Frosh said.
Lawrence Rosenberg, Fordham's attorney, declined to comment.
Members of the 8-Trey Crips, who operate in Baltimore City and other areas of the state, delivered contraband including drugs, tobacco and cellphones into Maryland prisons, the indictment says. Authorities in court papers described several instances in which they said Fordham was involved in the transport of contraband.
Fordham also is accused of authorizing the assault of a former Crips member who is gay. According to the indictment, he arranged for the assault to be carried out by members of the Bloods, a rival gang, inside the prison where the man was incarcerated. The victim was stabbed more than 30 times but survived. The indictment does not name the prison.
In another incident in a prison, Fordham allegedly authorized the assault of a man who was "suspected of providing information to rival gangs" about where contraband was stored.
Outside prison, authorities allege that Fordham was present at the shooting of two men who had been warned not to sell drugs in the Crips' territory.
The correctional officers and inmates used the prison phone system and illegal cellphones to place orders, and the contraband was paid for through the online payment system PayPal, the indictment says.
This is the latest in a series of indictments by officials targeting corruption in the state's prisons.
"Gang presence is a serious problem in Maryland prisons and elsewhere around the country," Frosh said. "You've seen at least two different gangs at work in two different Maryland prisons."
If convicted, the indicted members of the conspiracy face between three years to life in prison.
"This is a major step forward," Frosh said. "I hope it's a crippling blow to gang violence in prison, but I suspect, based on past history, that there's a lot of work to be done."