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  Tribble Sentenced to 10 Years for Dealing Cocaine

By Paul W. Valentine
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 16, 1993

BALTIMORE, OCT. 15 -- Brian Lee Tribble, cleared in 1987 of involvement in the drug overdose death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, was sentenced in federal court today to 10 years and one month in prison for distributing cocaine after Bias's death.

"I recognize I caused my family pain {and} my friends and myself," said Tribble, 31, as U.S. District Judge William N. Nickerson imposed the sentence.

Tribble was one of 26 people in a loosely knit organization dubbed the Woodridge Group who were indicted in 1990 on various drug charges after a two-year undercover investigation by federal agents. Investigators said the organization brought in nearly 11 pounds of cocaine a week to the Washington area in the late 1980s.

The group got its name from the Woodridge area of Northeast Washington, where many of its members lived. Twenty-one of the 26 members have been convicted or pleaded guilty in the last two years, receiving sentences ranging from 13 months to life without parole.

Prosecutor E. Thomas Roberts said Tribble was a "substantial drug dealer" in the organization who avoided a stiffer sentence by cooperating with investigators against other suspects. Tribble has been in custody since his arrest in August 1990. His time spent in various jails in the Baltimore area will count toward his 10-year sentence.

Tribble drew national attention in 1986 when he was accused of supplying the cocaine that killed Bias, a University of Maryland basketball star, during a party just days after Bias had been drafted to play for the Boston Celtics.

Tribble was acquitted of those charges, but three years later, he was arrested and charged in the Woodridge Group case with conspiracy and drug dealing during the years after Bias's death.

In October 1990, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, acknowledging that he and associates had sold more than 110 pounds of the drug in an 18-month period, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Prosecutors said Tribble was selling up to 22 pounds a month at one point and was considered a major player in the Washington area drug ring. He owned a house in Forestville as well as a 1979 Mercedes Benz and a 1984 Nissan 300 ZX sports car, all seized by government agents.

Almost three years have passed since Tribble pleaded guilty. Prosecutors typically delay the sentencing of cooperating defendants until their usefulness in court is exhausted.

© 1993 The Washington Post Company

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