Accused Dead Man Inc. leader appears in court; new allegations
The reputed leader of a Maryland-based prison gang that has spread throughout the country made his first appearance in federal court today after being indicted along with 21 others in a racketeering conspiracy that accuses Dead Man Inc. of murder, drug dealing and other crimes.
Perry Roark was led into the courtroom wearing a white t-shirt and jeans, his pony tail falling across both shoulders. The hulking man - he is a power lifter - was only in court briefly, as his attorney said he is already being held without bond in Anne Arundel County on a separate murder charge, making a detention hearing moot.
But a hearing for a co-defendant - John Zion - allowed U.S. Attorney Robert Harding to outline some of the investigative tactics and allegations against the gang, including new details on two of the murders - the fatal shootings of Eugene Chambers and Walter Milewski - the group has been linked to.
Harding said Milewski was a "dawg" in the gang who was told to execute a fellow member named Jeremy Ridgeway; Milewski was supplied a gun and went to Ridgeway's home in Curtis Bay on Sept. 18, 2009 to kill Ridgeway. When he got to the home, Harding said, there were two people on the front porch - one of them was Eugene Chambers. Milewski asked if he was "J-Rock," a nickname for Ridgeway, and Chambers said no. But Milewski, apparently distrusting Chambers, shot him multiple times.
"It should be clear, he did not intend to kill Eugene Chambers. It was a case of mistaken identity," Harding said in court.
Within hours after realizing the mistake, Harding said, the gang decided to execute Milewski. Harding said Zion was involved in those discussions and supplied the gun to Milewski. A man named John Henry Adams, 23, was charged by Baltimore County police at the time.
Zion's attorney disputed the account, saying Ridgeway, who is also charged in last week's indictment, is friends with Zion. He said Zion, who is a construction worker with a few assault charges on his record, was a "small fish" who had been caught up in investigators' wide net.
Harding countered that the case involves wiretaps and recordings of Dead Man Inc. gang meetings, where the killings and other crimes were discussed. He noted that of the 20 people who appeared before the federal grand jury, all but "two or three" were DMI members.
Harding also said Ridgeway's friendship with Zion didn't negate the attempted murder accusations. "Mr. Ridgeway is the last person to know of Mr. Zion's role to kill him," Harding said dryly.