Brian Parker, a client of the Firm, was cleared today of all federal charges against him. Federal prosecutors had alleged that Parker was a leader of a Cherry Hill drug conspiracy. But yesterday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to drop all charges against him, and a motion to dismiss was granted today by a federal judge. This represents an enormous victory for Parker and the Firm.
Parker and 25 others were indicted in December of 2013. The sweeping indictments (of which there were three) detailed drug feuds between rival organizations operating in the south Baltimore enclave of Cherry Hill. It was one of the largest federal prosecutions in recent memory. The indictments were covered extensively in the Baltimore Sun and other media. Parker was charged with a quantity of drugs that, if proven, would have resulted in a mandatory sentence of 10 years, or longer.
His initial arrest, and the publicity surrounding it, caused him to get fired from his truck driving job, which he had held for years. He was granted pretrial release – but was subjected to onerous and embarrassing electronic monitoring. Under the terms of his pretrial release, he was also prohibited from going to the neighborhood where he had grown up and where his parents still live.
While the other defendants on Parker’s indictment pleaded guilty, one by one, Parker maintained his innocence and stated that he would exercise his constitutional right to a jury trial. He did this under extraordinary pressure, and for an excruciatingly long time – almost 20 months. The Firm, meanwhile, worked doggedly to investigate the case and build a defense that would prove his innocence.
As a trial appeared inevitable, prosecutors re-evaluated the case. They eventually decided to drop the charges.
The dismissal of federal charges after an indictment is highly unusual – so much so that most defense lawyers have never experienced it. This is very different from the State system, in which charges are routinely dismissed.
While we do not think the charges should have been brought in the first place, we admire the guts of the prosecutor who decided to drop the case. In the federal system, it takes more courage for a prosecutor to dismiss a case than it does to take a weak case to trial.
Second, and most importantly, we commend Parker, who remained strong under the overwhelming pressure of a federal indictment. While some people might have folded, he did not. He, with the support of his family, friends and his fiancée, was unshaken in his faith. And ultimately he was rewarded for this strength.
After hearing the news, Parker had this to say about the work of the Firm: “Mr. Brown saved my life. I owe him everything.”