East St. Louis detective in federal lockup until drug conspiracy trial

News DemocratMay 15, 2013 

— Veteran East St. Louis Detective Orlando Ward was returned Wednesday in U.S. District Court to the U.S. Marshal Service to be bound over in a federal lockup. Ward must remain there until his drug conspiracy trial begins in July.

Ward appeared dejected when U.S. District Judge Clifford J. Proud said he would be returned to a federal lockup to await the start of his trial or any other court proceedings prior to the trial date.

Ward dropped his head back onto his chair next to his attorney, James Gomric, sighed and stared at the ceiling.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kit Morrissey argued that Ward should be detained, saying he was a danger to the public and a flight risk.

But Gomric told Proud to look at the family and friends in the courtroom who came to support Ward. Gomric said their presence shows what he means to the community.

The crowd in the packed courtroom included Ward's wife, mother, brothers and sisters, and two sons, who later cried when they heard that their father would not be coming home.

Also in attendance were a host of friends and colleagues from the East St. Louis Police Department and city hall.

Some of them said "Lord Jesus" as Morrissey exposed what Ward is alleged to have done. Some said, "um, um, um," while others left the courtroom to compose themselves and still others sat wiping away tears.

U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said he was pleased that the court "agreed with the U.S. attorney's office that it is in the best interest of justice and this ongoing investigation to keep Mr. Ward detained, pending trial."

Morrissey described Ward as a double agent: a lawman, but a corrupt cop who for $5,000 a month was willing to provide information, police protection and resources to the drug conspiracy he was a part of. She said he had close ties with a four-time convicted felon who brought him into the conspiracy.

In laying out the federal government's reason for the detention, Morrissey said if convicted of the drug conspiracy charge, Ward faces a minimum of between 15-20 years in federal prison , but that could be enhanced. That is a good reason to keep him locked up, Morrissey said.

She said the criminal investigation started after the federal agent she called "Jackson" made two undercover buys from lead defendant Martez "Tez" Moore, the lead defendant, who is Ward's close friend. Moore later asked Jackson to broker 10 kilograms of cocaine from his connection. In exchange for Jackson brokering the cocaine at a good price, another member of the drug conspiracy, Antwone Johnson, 33 of Cahokia, and Dewayne Hill, 38, of St. Clair County, agreed to distribute the cocaine. Moore also agreed to solicit a police officer to provide intelligence to help them succeed in distributing cocaine.

Ward and his co-defendants believed the shipment from Los Angeles was to be for 50 kilograms. All but the 10 kilograms that were to be for East St. Louis was to be distributed to states throughout the United States., Morrissey said.

Morrissey said Ward "described how federal and local law enforcement agents conducted criminal investigations to the undercover agent who he thought was a drug trafficker. Ward also agreed to run license plates names and numbers on behalf of the conspiracy and on at least one occasion did so, Morrissey said.

Morrissey told Proud that Moore is a four-time convicted felon, including a second-degree murder charge, manufacturing and delivering heroin, unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and residential burglary.

Jackson first met with Ward on April 24.

She said the government's evidence against Ward is very strong. Ward, according to Morrissey, met with Jackson, who posed as a drug trafficker from Los Angeles on three occasions and told him he was willing to provide police intelligence and resources so Moore and others could receive drugs from Los Angeles and minimize any interruptions, Morrissey said.

She also told Proud that Ward told Jackson that it was a good time to start a drug trafficking connection in East St. Louis because the government was focused on guns. All of the meetings were recorded and monitored on audio and video. On two occasions Ward accepted $2,500. The government also recorded phone calls between Ward and the undercover agent, she said.

At an April 25 meeting between Jackson and Moore, Moore told Jackson that Ward knew about all of the police activity occurring in East St. Louis. And Ward later told him he worked many times after 5 p.m. and during the night and on weekends.

Ward is not the man the prosecution described, Gomric said.

Gomric argued that not once did Morrissey, in her argument to detain Ward, declare he was a flight risk. And he said the government knew it couldn't make a case that Ward was a danger to the community. Gomric said on paperwork filed by the government the flight risk box and the danger to community box were not checked and rightly so because Ward was neither.

He said Ward was not involved with firearms and was nowhere near any illicit drugs.

Gomric said the sum and substance of Ward's involvement with the other six is that he "allegedly provided counter-intelligence, for the lack of a better word."

In making his case that Ward had close ties to the community and would make his court appearances, Gomric said Ward has been a good soldier as a policeman. He said Ward worked around the clock and was a member of the Major Case Squad and had solved crimes of great significance. He told Proud that Ward has three children that he has been taking care of for several years -- two sons who live with him and a daughter who is about to graduate from Hampton University and be accepted as an intern with NASA. Ward has been married nine years, Gomric said.

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service