Rob Long in 2006-photo by Frank KleinFederal prosecutors plan to tell a more complete (and truer) story than the state did about the 2008 murder of Robert Long, according to a motion filed in the capital murder case against Jose J. Morales. In a nine-page document titled "Intrinsic Act Evidence to be Used Against Defendant" prosecutors say they plan to introduce testimony that Morales, serving more than 20 years on a cocaine conviction, told other inmates he had paid a hit man affiliated with the Dead Man Inc. gang $20,000 to kill Long in March 2008, and that he became enraged and threatened the life of the inmate when it became clear that he snitched. The government says Morales also snitched—falsely—on his lawyer, Stanley Needleman, who will testify against his former client and outline the close relationship the two developed since 2001, and to the alleged fact that Morales confessed to Needleman that he arranged Long's murder. Needleman was disbarred in 2011 and sentenced to a year in prison for failing to pay taxes on a million dollars he kept in a safe in his home—a stash that Morales apparently told the feds about. The government is arguing, in effect, that Morales's many and varied crimes are not separable from the narrative of the Long murder, and so they must be introduced and will not prejudice the jury unduly. "It is impossible to extricate Morales statements about drug trafficking and the murder for hire," the motion says. "The two are inextricably intertwined with his decision to cooperate and his need to provide substantial assistance in order to help himself." The document says Needleman, too, cooperated with the feds:
Needleman learned of Morales' efforts to implicate him in drug trafficking in or about April 2011 when the transcript of the hearing was published on the Internet. Needleman most certainly will be cross-examined about why he did not report Morales back in 2008 (when Needleman believed the information was privileged) and why he chose to do so in July 2011 (albeit as part of cooperating in his own criminal case). Moreover, Needleman will testify that Morales admitted to paying a D.M.I.1 (DMI) hit man $20,000 to kill Rob Long. It is important to show that Morales, as a kilogram level dealer by his own admission, had the wherewithal in 2008 to pay such a sum of money. Morales admitted to traveling with over $100,000 in August 2008 and when he was arrested presented over $23,000 in cash to the airport personnel in order to charter a flight from Texas to Maryland.
The strange story is by now familiar to City Paper readers. Morales came to the paper's attention in 2006 when his crew menaced residents on S. Chester Street while rebuilding a lawyer's home with a big addition and no permits. Under the name "Masons Unlimited," Morales and his workers also rebuilt a house on Fleet Street—part of a rash of putatively illegal demolitions and rebuilds that city building and zoning officials routinely let slide during the housing bubble. The demolition crew on that job included at least one city employee. The engineer—an addict who had been convicted of a racial hate crime—was a former city employee. The attorney and political fundraiser Martin Cadogen—who served as now-Governor Martin O'Malley's campaign treasurer since 1990—brought the Fleet Street house to the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals. (Cadogen, who never returned reporters calls about the Fleet Street house, was last year named treasurer of the O Say Can You See Pac, widely seen as part of O'Malley's 2016 Presidential bid). Morales, meanwhile, had a history of vehicle theft, drug dealing, and arson in Southwest Baltimore, where he was feared by residents who thought him politically connected and, thus, untouchable. When Long turned up dead 10 days after he agreed to testify against Morales in state court, city police declined to interview Morales or another witness against him in the state case, Warren Lumpkin, who claimed to have a phone message from Long, in which he said Morales had threatened to kill him. Instead, the homicide detectives—Steve Hohman and Charles Bealefeld (the former commissioner's brother)—interviewed known associates of Morales. They found a couple of witnesses to pin the crime on a small time drug dealer named Demetrius Smith, who in 2010 was convicted in state court and sentenced to life. "All the pieces fit together," the prosecutor in that case told the jury. Three and a half years later, beginning on September 24, another jury will hear about some pieces the city police did not uncover.