Alleged marijuana kingpin Shannon Williams has railed against the government’s wiring of an attorney to record him orchestrating drug deals.
He has filed several motions to dismiss the case. He has contacted a national expert on the use of informants.
In short, he has vowed to pull out all the stops to fight the government’s conspiracy case against him.
He may be the only one.
In the past month, six of Williams’ 10 co-defendants have entered pleas to conspiracy charges against them, and two more are scheduled to do so.
The pleas leave just Williams and two women awaiting trial.
“I would be surprised if anyone but Williams goes to trial,” said one of the defense attorneys in the case.
The case has raised eyebrows since December, when federal prosecutors and investigators first revealed that they had wired an Omaha attorney, Terry Haddock, and sent him into the Douglas County Jail to provide Williams with a cell phone.
As Williams sat in jail on a parole violation over the next eight months, Haddock recorded Williams orchestrating the movement of millions of dollars worth of marijuana.
The investigation led to the indictments of Williams, a convicted crack cocaine dealer who was once acquitted of murder, and 10 others. It also led to an uproar from defense lawyers concerned about the invasion of attorney-client conversations.
But for all the controversy surrounding the government’s use of a wired attorney to investigate Williams, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Moran’s case is unfolding like most other federal drug conspiracy cases.
Lots of defendants are pleading guilty. Lots of them — four of the six so far — are agreeing to testify against Williams in the hope that their sentences will be reduced.
“It’s not unusual for people to plead (guilty) in a conspiracy,” said Omaha attorney D.C. “Woody” Bradford, who is representing one of Williams’ girlfriends.
“What is unusual is that this case centers so much on Williams. You might be on one spoke of the wheel and not know why any (other defendant) is doing what they’re doing.”
Williams himself may be questioning why his alleged former associates — including two high-level operatives in the conspiracy — are turning on him.
Among the latest to plead: Ÿ Christopher Parrott, 29. The Omaha man, known for his flash and fast cars, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute marijuana, a charge punishable by 10 years to life in prison.
Bellevue Police Detective John Stuck classified Parrott as one of Williams’ righthand men — and Parrott has agreed to testify against Williams.
He also agreed to give up cars that federal investigators say he obtained because of the conspiracy, including a 2006 BMW 750, a 2005 Cadillac STS, a 2003 Cadillac Escalade and a 1996 Mercedes-Benz.
And he agreed to give up more than $250,000 in cash that investigators found in his cars and residences. A large chunk of that money — $145,745 — was seized in February 2008 when police pulled over a car driven by Parrott’s father.
Ÿ Anthony Parrott, 28. The brother of Christopher Parrott pleaded guilty to conspiring to deal marijuana, albeit a lesser amount than Christopher Parrott acknowledged.
Anthony Parrott also agreed to give up three vehicles obtained from proceeds of the conspiracy: a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, a 2002 BMW and a 1998 Cadillac Seville.
Ÿ Joe Mark Felix, 54. The retired postman from Phoenix went from delivering mail for the U.S. Postal Service to delivering marijuana for the conspiracy.
Prosecutors say he made 30 or 40 trips to transport marijuana from Phoenix to Denver. He pleaded guilty to a charge punishable by 10 years to life in prison.
Three other lower-level mules — Jamie Ackerly, 40; his wife Yvonne Ackerly, 35; and Daniel Bouquet, 52, all of Omaha — pleaded guilty to a charge that carries 5 to 40 years in prison. They were accused of transporting marijuana or money for the conspiracy.
Among those tentatively scheduled to plead are Omaha residents Amy Griffith and Vicki Cass. Griffith has a plea hearing scheduled for August; Cass for later this week.
Cass, one of two of Shannon Williams’ longtime girlfriends charged in the case, is mulling whether to plead to money laundering charges, said her attorney, Glenn Shapiro.
Meanwhile, Deshaun Hernandez, Williams’ other girlfriend, hopes to join Williams in the fight to throw out the recordings that Haddock made. A hearing is scheduled for August on Williams’ motion to suppress those tapes.
Bradford, who is representing Hernandez, said much of the case hinges on those tapes and whether the government’s actions amounted to entrapment or violated attorney-client privilege.
To that end, Bradford said, he wants to get to the bottom of why Haddock went undercover.
Haddock has told others he did so because Williams talked of eliminating witnesses, an accusation Williams denies.
Law enforcement officials say Haddock did so after becoming infatuated with a woman who initially was charged in a related drug conspiracy. She is a Zimbabwean immigrant who described herself as a former escort.
“It’s still incredible to me,” Bradford said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
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