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January 21, 2011

"A killer deal: Be a star witness, escape execution"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting article from the Washinton Times.  Here is how it gets started:

Not long after Timothy Heaphy was nominated to be U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, he filled out a routine Senate questionnaire listing the 10 most-significant cases of his career as a prosecutor and defense lawyer.

Along with high-profile cases such as representing former Olympic gold-medalist sprinter Tim Montgomery and prosecuting Sidney Jackson, the so-called "Capitol Hill slasher," Mr. Heaphy mentioned a name few if anyone in the U.S. Senate likely knew: Oscar Veal.

But to Mr. Heaphy, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, and to a handful of investigators and prosecutors, Veal was largely responsible for dismantling the most violent drug organization that Washington has ever seen.

Veal, 39, shot and killed seven people. A contract killer for a large drug ring and murder-for-hire operation a decade ago, he cooperated with prosecutors and became a star witness for the government. Kevin Gray, the lead defendant in one case in which Veal testified, alone was convicted in Washington of taking part in a record 19 murders.

But there is a price to be paid for such testimony. Veal could have faced the death penalty. Instead, he has completed about half of a 25-year prison term — less than four years for each of the execution-style murders he committed. At his 2005 sentencing, which has not been previously reported, a relative of one victim said she will pray until her dying breath that Veal never sees the streets again. And attorneys for the men he testified against portrayed him as a snitch willing to lie in court to save himself.

Veal, in an undisclosed prison, declined to comment through his attorney. But the story of his crimes and cooperation are revealed in thousands of pages of recently obtained transcripts and law enforcement and court documents. The records shed light on little-known deals prosecutors say they must make to put away violent criminals, even if it means that some killers like Veal who cooperate will be free again.

January 21, 2011 at 11:57 AM | Permalink


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If this is what has to be done to shutdown the main mob, then so be it... The totality of it was a big gain for society....They didn't get Al Capone on much either..But it was enough to send him away and he died in prison...This guy is going to have to turn his life around 180 degress.
Or his probation will be revoked or another thug will bump him off...Sounds terrible to say it like that....But its what this guy was into..Amen

Posted by: Josh | Jan 21, 2011 2:57:14 PM

This sounds like a unusual result...it isn't. 5k1.1, etc. are used so as to reduce sentences and the charging discretion of the AUSA is such as to turn a "King Pin" into one..."having used a telephonic device in the furtherance of crime". Nothing of note here except that Mr.Veal received more time than I would have thought. Must have had a poor lawyer.

Posted by: Tim Rudisill | Jan 22, 2011 11:31:46 AM

People who bring something to the table do better than those who don't. This fact is not confined to the judicial system; indeed, it's true of virtually everything in life.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 23, 2011 10:25:43 PM

Thank you very much for keeping me up to date.

Posted by: Health Blog | Jan 26, 2011 7:16:42 AM

Ah, how delightful Sulla would have found this aphorism. One wonders how the concept of snitching can have fallen into such disrepute...earlier in America.

Posted by: tim rudisill | Feb 4, 2011 8:07:35 AM

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