gavel

A New Orleans judge reduced the bail this week for three of the nine men accused of membership in the “D-Block” gang in the 6th Ward, dismissing objections from prosecutors who said the men will return to dealing drugs on the street.

Criminal District Court Judge Darryl Derbigny on Wednesday dropped the bail for Brian Lott, Lawrence Conway and Wayman Williams.

That action followed Derbigny’s decision last week to reduce the bail for one of the gang’s alleged ringleaders, Glynn “Spot” McCormick, from $1 million to $150,000.

As of Thursday, however, none of the men had actually benefited from the bail reduction by leaving jail.

Derbigny’s decision raised the ire of Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, who argued that low bails allowed the gang to operate with impunity in the first place. However, one defense attorney said his client’s original bail was wildly disproportionate to his alleged crimes.

Nine men were charged with racketeering in a May indictment. Prosecutors said they essentially took over the 2500 and 2600 blocks of Dumaine Street to sell heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs.

Although none of the defendants were accused of violent crimes in the indictment, the “D-Block” area is well known to homicide detectives. It has been the site of seven killings since Hurricane Katrina and was the focus of a previous gang indictment in 2010.

The earlier — and much higher — bails for the men were set by Judge Robin Pittman.

Derbigny reduced Conway’s bail from $1 million to $150,000. He also slashed the bail for Williams and Lott from $500,000 to $75,000 each. Several other defendants have pending requests for lower bail.

The reductions frustrated Cannizzaro, who issued a statement calling Derbigny’s decision “a slap in the face to law enforcement.” 

Prosecutors noted in their objection to the bail reductions that many of the defendants have been convicted on a raft of previous drug charges. They also alleged that even from inside the jail, defendants like McCormick have continued to direct drug sales.

“It is disturbing and disheartening when a judge shows such little regard for the seriousness of these charges, the number of open cases these repeat offenders have and the safety concerns of the Dumaine Street residents they have terrorized,” Cannizzaro said.

However, Greg Carter, the defense attorney for Williams, said his client’s original high bail was “ridiculous” given the accusations against him.

The indictment alleges that Williams owned a car used by another co-defendant to store drugs and also received a phone call from a jailed co-defendant who instructed him to get rid of narcotics in the vehicle. He is not accused of selling drugs himself.

“They get their feelings hurt because their familiar tactic of guilt by association didn’t work this time,” Carter said of Cannizzaro and the Metropolitan Crime Commission, which also criticized the bail reduction.

“Law enforcement believes (Williams) should have a half-million-dollar bail, that he should never be able to see the light of day before his trial,” Carter said. “At the end of the day, they’re out of touch with their community.”


Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432