WASHINGTON -- Thirty years ago, D.C. crack kingpin Rayful Edmond was sentenced to life without parole for crimes related to his cocaine empire. He was just 24 years old.
While Edmond was never accused of murder himself, there are at least 30 murders tied to people affiliated with his drug empire.
Thursday at the Old Council Chambers in Northwest D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine arranged the first of three community meetings where district residents will get to speak their peace about Edmond’s potential early release.
On April 15, 1989, Edmond and 27 others were arrested in connection with the Edmond drug empire, including members of his family -- namely his mother.
Even though Edmond was physically removed from the drug world while serving his sentence in a Pennsylvania federal prison, he found a way to continue to grow his drug business -- now with connections to a Colombian drug cartel.
Those crimes landed him an additional 30-year term. So then why in February did federal prosecutors ask U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan for his early release?
They say for the last 20 years, Edmond has been cooperating with authorities while in prison, helping them understand the workings of the drug trade, assisting in the conviction of hundreds of other dealers and helping to reform a part of the prison system.
At the request of U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, over the next two weeks, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine’s office has arranged 3 community meetings where district residents can come in person to present their case as to whether Edmond should receive an early release.
"Of course many lives have been affected," Chase said. "Many people have lost a lot of things, including their own lives. But I think that if he has an opportunity, as I had, to recover from that lifestyle that he should be given an opportunity."
Judge Sullivan is overseeing the petition and will ultimately determine whether if Edmond’s sentence will be reduced, but wants to hear from victims of the Edmond drug ring as well as current district residents.
But will anyone show up in person? The AG’s office received between 30 and 50 RSVPs for these meetings, but given the lengths authorities went to protect witnesses in the trial, it'll be interesting to see who's willing to show their face.
In addition to the community meetings being held Thursday, Saturday and June 29, Racine’s office has created a website and phone line where District residents can respond to questions like: “Should the U.S. grant Edmond’s prison reduction?” and “If Edmond is released from prison early, do you support his returning to the District?”
If Edmond is granted early release for the crimes related to his cocaine ring in D.C. he still faces a 30-year sentence for dealing drugs while in a Pennsylvania prison. On the chance he's released early from both sentences, the witness protection program may be the only way to keep him safe as a free man.