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.
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