After 30 years, DC drug kingpin Rayful Edmond could go free

One of D.C.’s most notorious drug dealers Rayful Edmond, who has been in prison for the last 30 years, could be set free, but not before a federal judge hears the opinions of D.C. residents.

Edmond, 54, was a prolific illegal drug dealer in the 1980s, during D.C.’s violent crack cocaine crisis. He was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to two life terms in 1990.

“Suppose there is a person whose parent died of a drug overdose 30 years ago?” Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan asked. “I should at least engage the city on this very important issue. It seems to me the court would be remiss to not seek D.C. input,” he said from the bench in a status hearing Tuesday.

Sullivan set Oct. 16 for a sentence-reduction hearing. Federal prosecutors asked the court to reduce Edmond’s sentence because he “has provided substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution of others,” according to the motion filed on Feb. 15.

But Sullivan asked D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine to provide the court with the views of the people of the D.C. 

“We’re going to go about holding a series of community-engagement meetings, being open to public feedback by telephone, by internet and other means to understand their views. My hunch is there’ll be a broad range of views in regards to the appropriate sentence for Mr. Edmond,” Racine said.

While the U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked for the sentence reduction, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Crabb told the judge that the government does not support the defense’s request that Edmond’s sentence reduction be shortened to time served.

In addition, Edmond must contend with a 30-year prison sentence meted out by the federal court in Pennsylvania, after he was convicted of illegal drug dealing shortly after being incarcerated in federal prison there.

Crabb said discussions are underway with the federal prosecutor’s office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He said prosecutors there are assessing the case and have not yet come to any conclusions.

Sullivan gave federal prosecutors until June 11 to outline their recommendation for Edmond’s sentence reduction, and he gave the defense until June 18 provide its list of witnesses for the October hearing.

Edmond’s defense attorney Jason Downs asked for July for the sentence-reduction hearing before the court settled on October, when Sullivan said Edmond would be physically present in the courtroom.

“Today was just another step in the right direction to hopefully securing freedom for Mr. Edmond at some point in the very near future,” Downs said.

Edmond, wearing an olive-drab, short-sleeve jump suit over a long-sleeve gray T-shirt, appeared in a two-way video hookup from federal prison. During a recess in the proceedings he could be seen smiling broadly and blowing kisses to his mother, sister and other family members seated in the courtroom.

“It’s going to work out,” Constance Perry, 78 said outside the courtroom, “I’m his mother, and I’ll be around. I’ll be 79 this year,” she said.

Perry was convicted in 1990 and served time in federal prison on drug conspiracy charges in connection with her son’s drug dealing.

The court indicated that if freed, Edmond would be admitted to the United States Federal Witness Protection Program and will be under the supervision of federal probation officers.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano reported from the U.S. District Court in D.C.

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