06.27.2011

A.J. Munchak’s attorney representing alleged kingpin of gang brought down in Operation Sunset

By Denis J. O’Malley

Fresh off a loss representing former Lackawanna County Minority Commissioner  A.J. Munchak in his federal corruption trial, Attorney Christopher T. Powell is  now representing the alleged Bloods Street Gang member and kingpin of a  crack-dealing gang brought down last month by the state Attorney General’s  office.

“That’s what I do,” Mr. Powell said after his client, Derrick “Boss” Ward,  35, 4070 Murdock Ave., Bronx, N.Y., had his preliminary hearing continued to  July 29.

“(Mr. Munchak’s trial) is in the past. I’m in the future. I’m moving on,” Mr.  Powell said.

Mr. Ward is alleged to have been at the top of one of two semi-independent  gangs funneling crack into Scranton and surrounding areas over the course of a  five month investigation, according to an affidavit in the case.

Based on controlled purchases with confidential informants, surveillance and  phone conversations recorded on a wiretap of his cell phone, investigators  allege that Mr. Ward sold as much as $1,000 worth of crack daily, mostly out of  the Hotel Sun, 410 Cedar Ave., according to the 304-page affidavit filed in the  case.

After a jury convicted Mr. Munchak on eight of the 21 counts against him on  June 21, Mr. Powell said he took a trip to Florida on June 23 and spent the  weekend reading through the lengthy narrative outlining Mr. Ward’s alleged role  atop the crack-dealing operation brought down in the Attorney General’s office’s  case – dubbed “Operation Sunset.”

“This is going to take a lot of work for them to produce a case,” Mr. Powell  said Tuesday. “You just have to wait and see what they produce.”

After the hearing was continued, Mr. Powell moved to have his client’s  $350,000 straight bail reduced to allow Mr. Ward to post 10 percent of the  amount.

When asked his opinion of the motion by Magisterial District Judge Robert  Russell, Deputy Attorney General Tim Doherty explained the breadth of Mr. Ward’s  alleged role in the crack-trafficking operation.

“The fact of the matter is it should stay (at $350,000 straight),” Mr.  Doherty said. “Derrick Ward was a leader of an organization that trafficked  crack cocaine throughout Scranton.”

Mr. Doherty also brought up the findings of a search warrant executed on the  red-and-black Chevrolet Impala that Mr. Ward is said to have used over the  course of the investigation.

Police said investigators found a loaded .22-caliber revolver, which was  stolen, a $50 bag of crack cocaine, $50 cash, a switchblade knife with a  four-inch blade and two empty magazines for semi-automatic pistols in a hidden  compartment – or “trap” – in the vehicle.

Mr. Doherty said additional charges against Mr. Ward stemming from the search  would be forthcoming.

“Well, first of all, he didn’t own the car, so I don’t know what (Mr.  Doherty) is talking about,” Mr. Powell said.

“(Bail) will stay the same,” Judge Russell then ruled.

On his way out of Courtroom #1 Tuesday afternoon, outfitted in handcuffs,  shackles, a beige prison jumpsuit and orange slip-on shoes, Mr. Ward turned to  his attorney and offered his take on the search.

“That warrant ain’t worth the paper it was written on,” he said.

Contact the writer: domalley@timesshamrock.com

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/a-j-munchak-s-attorney-representing-alleged-kingpin-of-gang-brought-down-in-operation-sunset-1.1168165#ixzz1QbIGF9tY

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