[caption id="attachment_18013" align="alignleft" width="300"] Photo by RARAH[/caption]A document filed last week in a federal murder case implicates disbarred defense attorney Stanley Needleman (pictured, left) in a gang-related murder-for-hire scheme, while another document raises questions about how Baltimore City police and prosecutors handled the case.The case involves the murder of Robert Long, a long-time aid to contractor, arsonist, and drug dealer Jose J. Morales (pictured, right). Long was shot dead in March of 2008, 13 days after he agreed to testify against his boss in a stolen scaffolding case.Morales was represented by Needleman, a prominent lawyer who has since been convicted and served a year in prison for tax evasion—in a case apparently launched when Morales told federal authorities about his attorney's million-dollar stash of cash.City police arrested, and prosecutors convicted, Demetrius Smith for Long's murder, but the case was dismissed last year shortly before a federal grand jury indicted Morales in the murder-for hire scheme.Now federal prosecutors say they want to use Morales's words against him in the murder trial, and that those words and the circumstances under which Morales uttered them render the usual attorney-client privilege moot.The document, a Notice of Intention to Use Statements Against Defendant Jose Morales, stems from a May 6 hearing in which "the Government contended that Morales had waived his privilege and that his waiver began the day of his arrest in Texas when he began to disclose purportedly about his criminal conduct with his attorney."In the summer of 2008, Morales had skipped bail in several Baltimore-area cases and was mysteriously bailed out—by Needleman, it turned out—in another when federal law enforcement nabbed him in McAllen, Texas, trying to charter a private jet back to Baltimore with six kilos of cocaine. He apparently began telling stories right off, and many of them were later discounted in open court."However," the Notice says, "the Government learned from notes taken by the Texas case agent, Special Agent Garrett Huling, that Morales also implicated Needleman in the murder of Robert Long in August 2008."Morales said the day his co-defendant snitched, Stanley said ‘don't worry about it, I'll take care of it,'" the Notice, which was filed on July 17, reads, in part. "Morales said that Rob Long (his co-defendant) then got killed."The Notice says Morales gave the feds information about Dead Man, Inc., a white prison gang associated with the Black Guerrilla Family. Morales alleges that after Long was found dead, Needleman called Morales and laughed, saying, "we need to talk." He later told Morales, "I told you not to worry about it. DMI took care of it."Morales later repudiated statements he gave authorities, claiming a lawyer "told me to make a story up, a big story if I wanted the bail and that's what I did." Still, the tax evasion story stuck. Despite impassioned testimony as to his character by judges and fellow lawyers, Needleman was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison in December 2011. Upon his release in early 2013, he took the unusual step of hiring a new lawyer, Andrew C. White.The Notice indicates that Needleman is expected to testify against Morales in the murder trial. White was out of state and not immediately available for comment.The Long murder and its aftermath open a window on the city's complex and far-reaching drug trade, as well as police and prosecutorial culture that sometimes appears tragically naive, at best.Long told police he did not trust his lawyer, Alex Leikus, who Morales had hired to represent him in a state case involving thousands of dollars worth of scaffolding he had stolen, allegedly on Morales's behalf. At the time, Leikus shared office space with Needleman and his son, Jonas, and daughter-in-law, Christie, who are also defense lawyers."Long articulated to the detectives that he did not want his attorney to be present because he did not trust him based on that attorney's close relationship with Needleman," reads a passage from another document, titled Government's Motion in Limine to Admit Decedent's Statements. "The State's Attorney's Office (SAO) did not believe it could meet with Long without his attorney and therefore advised the attorney and invited him to the proffer themselves."According to the Motion, at the videotaped interview, Long told police and prosecutors he did the crime on Morales's behalf, and that Morales did other crimes, including arson. "Long told the state prosecutor that ‘if Jose Morales knew that he was talking to us [the State's Attorney's Office] he would kill him.' As a result, the prosecutor took steps to determine if Long were eligible for witness protection services."It appears that Long was never given any such protection."Long said that he did not trust his attorney not to tell Morales' attorney about his cooperation and his statements about the crimes he engaged in for and at the behest of Morales," the Motion says.A call to Leikus's office was not immediately returned.Long told the authorities that Morales was already threatening to "beat me with a baseball bat and whoop my ass." An excerpt from the alleged transcript of the conversation is included:
RL: Three days ago he called me up from...sounded like he was in a night club said I can't wait to catch you...know what I mean. Can't wait to beat you with a baseball bat and whoop your ass, so I'm gonna give him something to whoop my ass for. D: Had you told him before that you were going to come forward and talk to the police? RL: No I ain't tell him nothing. D: Why are you getting these calls? Long's Attorney: Why don't we just talk about the crimes...I mean does it really matter?The subject was then dropped.Word did get out that Long had "snitched" and, according to the Motion, Long suspected that a confidant, identified in the documents only as "H," told Morales about Long's cooperation.Long was found, shot in the head, near the train tracks in Tracy Atkins Park on March 24, 2008. Homicide detectives Sgt. Steve Hohman and Charles Bealefeld—brother of then-Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld—apparently did not interview Jose Morales about the crime. Charles Bealefled left the city department under a cloud shortly after Demetrius Smith's arrest. Hohman told jurors in Demetrius Smith's trial that he interviewed Long's friends, who were the last to see him alive, had extensive criminal histories and "ran in the same circles" as Morales. Those friends did not implicate Morales or anyone else in the killing, Hohman testified.Asked what he expected them to say, the detective (who has since been promoted to Lieutenant) said: "I expected them to tell me the truth."