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Case Number: 1:19-mj-00828-SAG
Judge: Richard D. Bennett
Court: United States District Court for the District of Maryland (Balitmore County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States District Attorney’s Office
Description: Baltimore, Maryland felony use of a firearm criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant,Cortez Weaver, a/k/a Corty and Tez, age 29, of Balitmore, Maryland who was charged with possessing, brandishing, and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, resulting in the death of Maurice Finney.
“Disputes between rival drug gangs lead to many shootings and murders in Baltimore City,” said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Drug traffickers must know that gun crime will lead to federal time, which has no parole—ever. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to remove those who would commit violence from our community.”
“Turf war gang violence is a serious threat to our communities and we are using the power of partnerships to combat and thwart that threat,” said Jennifer C. Boone, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “The lengthy federal sentence Cortez Weaver received today sends a strong message that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate illegal guns, drugs and violence on our streets.”
According to Weaver’s guilty plea, Weaver was a member of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that distributed heroin and crack cocaine in the Abington Avenue area of Baltimore. Beginning in approximately mid-July 2017, the Abington Avenue DTO became involved in a dispute with a rival DTO over who could sell drugs at a gas station at the intersection of Baltimore Street and Hilton Avenue. As a result of the dispute, on July 14, 2017, a member of the rival DTO shot and killed a member of the Abington Avenue DTO.
As detailed in his plea agreement, on July 17, 2017, Weaver and another member of the Abington Avenue DTO went to the gas station to retaliate against members of the rival DTO. There, they encountered Maurice Finney, a/k/a Mitch. Weaver murdered Finney, shooting him in the head at close range with a .40-caliber handgun. Weaver also attempted to murder Victim 2, chasing him across Hilton Avenue while firing multiple shots at him. Meanwhile, Weaver’s co-conspirator attempted to murder Victim 3, shooting him multiple times with a 9mm handgun and causing life-threatening injuries. The shootings were captured on surveillance cameras at the gas station. Afterward, Weaver sent his co-conspirator a text message directing him to burn the clothes he had been wearing during the incident.
In November 2018, a confidential informant (CI) met with Weaver and recorded the conversation. During their recorded conversation, Weaver confessed that he had killed Maurice Finney and described the murder using specific details that were consistent with the surveillance footage and other physical evidence recovered during the investigation. For instance, Weaver explained that he wore a “scully cap” and “skipped down on” the victim (which was corroborated by the surveillance footage), and that he shot the victim “one time” using a “40” (which was corroborated by the physical evidence from the scene).
During the same recorded conversation, the CI told Weaver about a potential robbery of a drug stash house. Weaver agreed to carry out the robbery, stating that he had been committing other such robberies with another member of the Abington Avenue DTO. Weaver showed the CI a .45-caliber firearm and talked about owning other firearms, including a “357” and a “40.” Unbeknownst to Weaver, the robbery opportunity was a fiction and the drug stash house did not exist.
In January 2019, Weaver was introduced to an undercover Baltimore Police Officer (the UC) posing as a drug dealer who wanted to rob his source of supply of three kilograms of heroin. During the meeting, which was recorded, Weaver confirmed his desire to commit the robbery, and described another drug robbery he had committed in the recent past. Weaver also stated that he intended to kill the individuals who were guarding the stash location. Weaver told the UC, “Nobody coming out of there alive . . . All I gotta do is get in and waste ‘em.” Weaver had two additional meetings with the UC to discuss the robbery logistics, including how to break down and distribute the heroin they planned to steal. Weaver brought co-conspirators to both of these meetings, and they also agreed to assist with the robbery.
On March 7, 2019, Weaver and three co-conspirators met the UC to commit the robbery. Weaver and the co-conspirators were arrested. Law enforcement searched Weaver and his vehicle, recovering a loaded .357 revolver, 11 pink-top vials of suspected cocaine, a mask, and gloves. From the co-conspirators and their vehicle law enforcement recovered two masks, a 9mm handgun loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition, including a round in the chamber, and two pairs of gloves.
Weaver admitted that from at least July 2017 through March 7, 2019, he conspired to distribute heroin and crack cocaine in Baltimore, and that it was foreseeable to Weaver that the members of the conspiracy would distribute between three and eight kilograms of heroin.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case is also an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christina A. Hoffman and Peter J. Martinez, who prosecuted the case.
18:924(c) POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN FURTHERANCE OF A DRUG TRAFFICKING CRIME, RESULTING IN DEATH; 18:2 AIDING AND ABETTING
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 30 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.