Originally created 09/18/02

Fellow officer recalls events



Fellow narcotics agent Kenneth Boose thought it was odd that Ralph Tyrone Williams called him at home one night to ask the identity of a confidential informant, but when he saw on his caller ID where Mr. Williams had called from, an alarm sounded, Mr. Boose testified Tuesday.

The number on his caller ID showed Mr. Williams had called him from an Augusta store that became the scene of an investigation that day in August 1998, Mr. Boose testified in the second day of Mr. Williams' and Joseph Ellick's trial in U.S. District Court.

The two former officers in the Richmond County 's Office have pleaded innocent to charges of conspiracy, attempt to possess cocaine and violation of the Hobbs Act by extortion.

"I felt a little uneasy about the call," testified Mr. Boose, who has left the sheriff's department. "Investigator Williams had never called me at home before. When I saw where the call came from, I immediately called (Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Patrick) Clayton."

Timothy Godley, the target of a search warrant and drug investigation in August 1998, testified Tuesday that his friend Clinton O. Brown helped him find out who set him up for the narcotics unit.

"(Mr. Brown) said he had to pay Tyrone $500 to get the information," said Mr. Godley, an admitted drug dealer serving a 12-year prison sentence.

But Mr. Brown had another friend on the narcotics squad, Larry Tarver, witnesses testified. Mr. Boose testified on cross-examination that Mr. Tarver, who has left the sheriff's department, called Mr. Brown, who immediately called Mr. Godley the night Mr. Godley's home was searched.

Mr. Boose's former source who gave information on Mr. Godley testified Tuesday that within a couple days of the search of Mr. Godley's home he learned he "had a hit on me."

Mr. Brown sold drugs for Leo Utley, testified Mr. Utley's boyhood friend and admitted heroin addict Tommy Lee Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins testified Tuesday that Mr. Brown would point out people who were police informants.

"He said he got the information from Tyrone," Mr. Hawkins testified. At least twice he saw Mr. Utley give Mr. Williams money, he testified, although more than once he added, "But I want to clear this up - Leo (Utley) loans money."

Admitted drug dealer Andrew Webb, who is serving a 30-year federal prison sentence, testified that Mr. Williams once told him that he wasn't to be arrested but his crew working in one of the city's public housing would be. Mr. Webb testified that after Mr. Williams left the room, Mr. Brown told him to pay Mr. Williams some money and his workers wouldn't be busted.

The only prosecution witness Tuesday who mentioned Mr. Ellick, a former member of the sheriff's crime suppression unit, was Ernest Smith. He testified that he got illegal drugs from Mr. Ellick to resell five or 10 times, and twice bought several ounces of cocaine from Mr. Williams.

Mr. Smith, who could date his allegations only as taking place sometime in "the past five years, give or take a year," agreed to cooperate with federal agents in 2000 when confronted with information he could be arrested, he testified.

Some of Mr. Smith's taped conversations with Mr. Ellick were played for the jury Tuesday. He described the conversations as a discussion of how they were going to lure a "drug dealer" with cash and drugs to Augusta to rob. The supposed dealer was an undercover officer. No robbery ever took place, however.

Testimony continues today in U.S. District Court in Augusta.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.