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October 7, 2011

Needleman client indicted on new drug charges

Court records show a 36-year-old man has been indicted by federal prosecutors on two counts of drug distribution, charges that may be fallout from his claims that one of his attorneys was involved in the drug trade.

Jose Joaquin Morales was indicted on Sept. 14, and the charges were unsealed this week. The upshot of the case is unclear - the indictment doesn't go into details of his alleged crimes beyond that the drug dealing occurred in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas - but according to various accounts in the CityPaper, the case seems to have been building.

Morales was sentenced to 262 months - or about 22 years - in federal prison by a federal judge in Texas after pleading guilty to charges that he was trying to charter a jet to transport drugs to Baltimore from McAllen, Tex. In that case, a woman identified as his girlfriend, Tiffany Frey, admitted to authorities that she helped smuggle cocaine into Baltimore inside a maternity dress.

The CityPaper reported that Morales tried to tie one of his old attorneys, Stanley Needleman, to the drug trade. At his sentencing hearing in March 2010, federal prosecutors said claims regarding Needleman were baseless. "...We spent four days debriefing Mr. Morales, only just basically to realize that he'd been lying almost the entire time."

But in April, federal agents raided Needleman's home and law office, where they found $1 million in cash stuffed into a safe. Needleman was charged through criminal information on Aug. 16, and pleaded guilty to tax evasion on Sept. 1. Morales was indicted two weeks later.

Calls to Morales' attorney were not immediately returned. He is charged in the case along with a woman named Terry L. Sadler, a woman who state court records indicate he has sparred with over child support and paternity.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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