Black Mafia Family is on trial in Atlanta.
Fleming "Ill" Daniels has been described by witnesses in court papers as BMF's third-in-command under the organization's co-leader, Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory. Daniels is being tried on federal cocaine conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court. He also has been indicted in Fulton County for the 2004 murder of Rashannibal "Prince" Drummond in the parking lot of Midtown's now-defunct Velvet Room. That case has not yet made it to trial.
During opening statements this morning, assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney described Daniels' alleged role in the BMF enterprise, which is believed to have trafficked $270 million in cocaine across the country from two main hubs. BMF's Atlanta hub was headed by "Big Meech" Flenory. Its other hub, in L.A., was controlled by his estranged brother, Terry "Southwest T" Flenory. In November 2007, the Flenory brothers pleaded guilty to running a continuing criminal enterprise in a related indictment out of Detroit.
McBurney told the jury that the government's case against Daniels would rely in part on co-defendants who pleaded guilty in exchange for a possibly lesser sentence. Eleven of Daniels' 15 co-defendants pleaded guilty, most of them on Monday. The rest remain fugitives. Among the guilty pleas was the rapper Barima "Bleu DaVinci" McKnight, who did not agree to cooperate with the feds.
GREENVILLE A drug associate of Mayor Shirley Franklin's ex-son-in-law pleaded guilty to federal charges today, bringing an abrupt end to his trial on cocaine trafficking.
Watkins has been identified in federal documents and in open court as the person who supplied Kai Franklin Graham's then-husband, Tremayne Graham, with a gun that was later used to kill Graham's co-defendant, Ulysses Hackett, and Hackett's girlfriend, Misty Carter. No arrests have been made in the 2004 double-murder of Hackett and Carter, who were killed as they lay in bed inside Carter's Highland Avenue townhouse.
Like Watkins, Kai Franklin Graham the mayor's daughter also signed a cooperation agreement when she pleaded guilty in December 2007 to minor charges related to her ex-husband's crime ring.
Franklin Graham is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in federal court in Greenville on charges that she made structured financial payments to avoid federal detection. She, Graham, Watkins and more than a dozen other defendants linked to Graham have had cases brought in South Carolina, where Graham's drug ring delivered multi-kilo shipments of cocaine from Atlanta.
Kai Franklin Graham, 35, daughter of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, pleaded guilty this morning in South Carolina to a federal charge of "structuring financial transactions" to avoid detection.
The charges stem from an investigation of Franklin's former husband, Tremayne Graham, who pleaded guilty for his leadership role in a cocaine operation affiliated with the Black Mafia Family. Graham received a life sentence, and has been identified as a suspect in the murder of co-defendant Ulysses Hackett and Hackett's girlfriend, 24-year-old Spelman graduate Misty Carter, in 2004. They were gunned down while sleeping in Carter's Highland Avenue townhome.
Kai Graham agreed to cooperate fully with the federal investigation, and she must pass a polygraph. If she complies fully, she will spend three months in home confinement and three years on probation.
Mayor Franklin arrived at the federal courthouse in Greenville, S.C., with her daughter, and was in the courtroom during the hearing. She declined to comment after the hearing.
Court records identify Tremayne Graham as a "major drug dealer" with close ties to multistate cocaine empire the Black Mafia Family and related drug ring the Sin City Mafia. Graham, along with 12 other defendants, is accused of moving at least 500 kilograms of cocaine from California to Atlanta, where most of the defendants lived. The cocaine was then allegedly delivered to Greenville. When Graham disappeared in late October 2004, he was out on bond under the condition that he be confined to the $630,000 Marietta home he shared with his wife. But after he cut his ankle monitor and fled, Kai Franklin Graham divorced her husband, who turned up in California a month after the divorce was final.
CL's Mara Shalhoup will have a full report of the hearing later this afternoon.
Add to the list of roughly 130 alleged Black Mafia Family affiliates facing federal charges in at least nine separate indictments the following name: Barima McKnight, aka the rapper "Bleu DaVinci."
McKnight was among six defendants whose identities were revealed on Friday, after a U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta signed an order to fully unseal an indictment that had been filed in July. The indictment charges a total of 16 defendants with conspiracy to distribute multiple kilos of cocaine.
McKnight, who took over the record label BMF Entertainment after alleged BMF co-leader Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory was indicted two years ago on cocaine conspiracy charges, was the sole artist signed to the Atlanta-based label. The feds allege that BMF Entertainment was in fact a front for the cocaine trade.
As a rapper, McKnight never saw the success of other artists who aligned themselves with BMF, including Young Jeezy and Fabolous. Neither Jeezy nor Fabolous was signed to BMF Entertainment. But both were early members of the BMF party entourage that was a huge presence in Atlanta clubs such as Compound and Vision, and both have written or contributed to tracks about the storied crew.
According to the indictment charging McKnight:
DEFENDANTS were members or associates of the criminal enterprise known as the Black Mafia Family (BMF). The cocaine possessed and distributed in this conspiracy came from the most senior members of BMF, who are not indicted herein. It was only by way of their membership in BMF or association therewith that DEFENDANTS were able to gain access to the cocaine that was distributed as part of this conspiracy.
McKnight has not been apprehended, nor have the five other defendants whose names were revealed last week: Terry "Taz" Biles, Vernon "Wu" Coleman, Michael "Freak" Green, Innocent "Fifty" Guerville, and Deron "D-Shock" Hall.
Demetrius Flenory, his brother and alleged co-leader Terry "Southwest T" Flenory, and as many as nine of their 40 co-defendants are scheduled for trial Nov. 5 in Detroit, where the alleged $270 million cocaine enterprise was birthed before establishing central hubs in L.A. and Atlanta. The Flenorys face a continuing criminal enterprise charge, which can carry a mandatory life sentence.
Documents filed Tuesday in Greenville, S.C., federal court describe how Ernest Watkins, an Atlanta man under investigation for his possible link to multistate cocaine enterprise the Black Mafia Family, allegedly lied about his involvement with convicted drug dealer Tremayne Graham and his ex-wife Kai Franklin -- who is Mayor Shirley Franklin's daughter.
Watkins was indicted last month on charges of cocaine conspiracy and perjury, the latter stemming from false statements he allegedly made while speaking with investigators and before a grand jury. A partial transcript of a 2006 grand jury hearing describes a prosecutor asking Watkins about his relationship with Graham. Watkins described Graham as a mere "acquaintance."
"Did you ever deliver cash to Tremayne Graham or Kai Graham?" the prosecutor later asked.
"No," Watkins answered.
Court documents do not indicate if any charges were filed as a result of the grand jury proceedings. At the time the grand jury met, Tremayne Graham already had pleaded guilty to federal cocaine charges filed against him in early 2004.
The trial date for the alleged co-leaders of multistate cocaine ring the Black Mafia Family has been pushed back from August to November. The move will give federal prosecutors and defense attorneys more time to prepare for the case, which is now scheduled to take place almost exactly two years after the drug crew was indicted.
The BMF crew earned an estimated $270 million in cocaine proceeds in less than two decades, and 41 alleged crew members ultimately were indicted. The organization was birthed in Detroit, where the trial will take place, and later established central hubs in Atlanta and L.A.
The crew's legendary presence in Atlanta â including accusations of violence that were not addressed in the federal indictment â was the subject of a three-part series "Hip-hop's shadowy empire," published in CL last year.
Alleged BMF leader Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory, a flashy hip-hop entrepreneur, is alleged to have held down the Atlanta hub, while his brother, Terry "Southwest T," allegedly manned the L.A. one. Along with the Flenory brothers, seven other co-defendants who allegedly worked under them are scheduled for trial Nov. 5.
The Flenory brothers are accused of running a "continuing criminal enterprise," a charge that can carry a life sentence.
A dozen additional co-defendants have pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution and other charges. Four other defendants who face only money-laundering charges â including New York jeweler to the stars Jacob "the Jeweler" Arabo, as well as the Flenory brothers' father â will be tried separately. The remaining 16 have neither a trial date nor a plea hearing scheduled.
The Daily of Drastically Decreasing Circulation reported today about convicted drug kingpin Tremayne Graham, also under investigation for a double murder. Graham also, not so incidentally, is the former son-in-law of Mayor Shirley Franklin.
Mayor Franklin remains consistent and determined not to comment on Graham.
Contrary to testimony offered during an April federal court hearing during which the mayor's former son-in-law was sentenced to life in prison, Mayor Shirley Franklin did not help get her daughter's then-husband out of jail when he was bonded out in 2004, according to an assistant U.S. attorney.
Tremayne Graham jumped bond in the fall of 2004 on cocaine-trafficking and money-laundering charges, and he was a fugitive for seven months. While Graham was out on bond, his co-defendant, Ulysses Hackett, and Hackett's girlfriend, Misty Carter, were gunned down in Carter's bed. Testimony and court records allege that Graham ordered Hackett's death because he feared Hackett would cooperate in the federal investigation against him.
At the time of the April 2004 bonding hearing, however, prosecutors in Greenville, S.C., where Graham's enterprise had been shipping drugs from Atlanta, "didn't have a lot of evidence against Tremayne," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Moore says. What's more, Graham had little in the way of a criminal history at the time: a 1997 counterfeiting charge.
"Given who he was, we had no reason to believe he would flee," Moore says, pointing out that his office didn't push for Graham to be detained. "And there is no evidence that the mayor did or had anything to do with that bond."
How can you go wrong with nude drawing classes at a bar? Hope the kids at local art schools are taking advantage of this education.
-- Mr. Kimberly at Neon Poisoning on last Saturday's anniversary celebration at the Vortex. The party included performances by Kingsized, Dames Aflame and a nude drawing class.
Dames Aflame fans note: Neon Poisoning's Flickr page includes some excellent photos from the evening, including a couple of MonkeyZuma without her monkey mask. See if you can spot her.
Remember the whole salmonella Peanut Butter thing that happened with Georgia's aptly named "Con"agra foods? According to the Washington Post, the FDA knew about it and did nothing. I don't mean they knew about it just before it happened. I mean they knew there were problems at the plant for years.
-- Aging Hipster on the FDA's failure to act when it learned in 2005 of salmonella problems at a Sylvester, Ga., peanut butter factory. Federal officials believe that peanut butter from the plant has caused at least 370 cases of salmonella poisoning since last August.
Here's a sign of just how massive the cutbacks in journalism are going to be at the shrinking AJC: The newspaper used an AP wire story about the sentencing of Mayor Shirley Franklin's ex-son-in-law, who was a large-scale drug dealer convicted in South Carolina. And the story also does not include a rather troubling aspect of the case -- which Creative Loafing's Mara Shalhoup had on the Web FOUR DAYS AGO -- that the mayor's former son-in-law is implicated in a double murder.
On Monday a man considered to be one of the Black Mafia Family crime ring's top lieutenants pleaded guilty in federal court to cocaine and money-laundering charges. According to his plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Chad "J-Bo" Brown will spend between 15 and 20 years in prison.
Brown regularly appeared in promotional videos and in flashy nightclubs flanking alleged BMF leader Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory, who is believed to have run the Atlanta headquarters of a multistate, $270 million cocaine enterprise. Flenory, who was CEO of Atlanta-based record label and promotion company BMF Entertainment, has described J-Bo as the company's chief operating officer.
BMF's presence was huge in Atlanta, where the crew was known for throwing wild parties -- and for being tied to violent acts that involved Young Jeezy, P. Diddy and Bobby Brown. The crew's reign was the subject of Creative Loafing's three-part series Hip-hop's shadowy empire.
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