The mastermind behind a notorious D.C. drug empire asked a judge for release from his life sentence because of all the help he provided prosecutors as an informant over the past 20 years.
Rayful Edmond’s violent, family-run operation was estimated by law enforcement to have moved up to 1,700 pounds of cocaine per month and made more than $1 million per week in the 1980s. It was linked to at least 30 murders, although none was connected to Edmond.
He received a sentence of life without parole in 1990 for conspiracy and racketeering and was sent to a maximum-security prison in Pennsylvania. He continued to run a drug distribution network from inside the prison for which he received an additional 30-year sentence. Then Edmond became an informant cooperating with FBI agents.
Edmond appeared before a federal judge Wednesday and apologized for what he called the hurt he caused and said he’s a changed man now. Edmond’s attorneys said he should be released from his life sentence in prison because of all the help he’s provided prosecutors as an informant over the past 20 years.
The same prosecutor who sent Edmond to prison testified Edmond provided invaluable information leading to the conviction of local murderers and drug dealers, as well as members of Columbia’s drug cartels. He described Edmond’s cooperation as extraordinary and off the charts, but he also noted the legacy of death and destruction he left in his hometown.
While prosecutors agree Edmond’s entitled to a sentence reduction, they want it reduced to 40 years, not to time served.
Several local ministers testified for Edmond, saying they believe he can be a positive influence in the community through outreach and encouraging young people to stay out of trouble.
Judge Emmett Sullivan said this will be one of the most challenging decisions he’s ever made in his career. He is not expected to issue a decision until early next year.
If the judge does reduce the sentence, Edmond still faces that additional 30-year sentence in Pennsylvania. The prosecutor in that case has not said whether he would consider asking the courts to reduce that sentence as well.