James Rosemond Trial Part III
November 12th, 2017
By Don Sikorski
As the early stages of the trial progressed, it was obvious that now the government was going to present the meat of their case as efficiently as possible to the jury.Khalil Abdullah was called to the stand. His relationship with Jimmy is a key component to every charge that Jimmy faces. Abdullah is a seasoned hustler. . . someone who has been playing the drug game since he was a teenager. In order for the jury to believe Abdullah, they have to take into consideration a few things. Khalil, like Mohammed Stewart, has a storied, criminal past, that includes gun violence and prior, narcotics charges.During the investigation when I produced the documentary series, Unjust Justice, I personally met with Khalil in Harlem and hoped that I would hear a different perspective or his side of the story. For the record, I did not record our encounter or take notes. Khalil was not sure he wanted to be a part of the film, and inevitably, he decided not to participate. It was obvious from our conversation that there was no love loss between Jimmy and Khalil.In the Drug Kingpin trial, the government did a great job of describing a pyramid structure of Jimmy’s so-called “drug organization.” In that pyramid, Khalil was below Jimmy; if you believe the government, Khalil answered and only moved if Jimmy told him to do so. In our conversation, it was apparent that Khalil believed that he and Jimmy were equals. In Khalil’s mind, his trafficking was on par with Jimmy. The truth always falls into some grey area, and in this story, there is a mountain of grey.
Khalil and Jimmy were introduced at a Mosque in Harlem by Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, 66. He is the Imam of the Harlem-based Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood, Inc.. According to his biography, before being elected to his present position in 1989, he served as the assistant Imam of the MIB—which is considered the lineal descendant of the Muslim Mosque, Inc., founded by the late Minister Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz)—from 1975 to 1988.After reading transcripts and talking to other sources about this “drug conspiracy’ ‘trial, Abdullah and a West Coast gangster, Henry “Black” Butler were the government’s star witnesses.If you believe the government, the operation was managed and the hierarchy was established in a top-down, drug corporation. I believe that there is another explanation. While I was working on the documentary, I spoke to some of my sources, and it appeared to me that the crew operated more like a “cocaine investment club.”
Each hustler staked his claim to parcels or orders of drugs that were distributed. The money was compiled, and there was a great deal of freelancing among the so-called players. Once again, in this current, murder trial, the government is using Khalil and Stewart to paint a portrait of mayhem; however, in reality, it is just the opposite. As I listened to the testimony, I was amazed that none of the witnesses have spoken about any violence in regards to the drug operation. The only violence came from the feud between the G-Unit and Czar Entertainment record labels. The government began to pepper questions about the drug dealings and Hip Hop violence. As the jurors listened to the testimony of Khalil Abdullah, they must have experienced an alternative reality: Car bombings, shootings, and the intimidation of witnesses. The average citizen would find the shooting of houses moronic and unnecessary considering most of these guys, according to their own testimonies, were making hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. They traveled in style to Miami and LA; Jimmy flew to Europe. If there was all of this violence and shooting, one could assume that there would have been some retribution in the course of running a drug operation. At times, the proceedings appear surreal. The prosecution and the defense continue to ask questions; however, the “Truth” is elusive. For the last two years, I have examined, investigated, and talked at length with many of these players. I find myself unable to grasp what the truth really is. At this point, it appears that the only people who know the realities are Khalil and Jimmy. Perhaps, we will never know what really happened.
Khalil continued his testimony… the key part of it is the meeting that took place at Mobay’s, a restaurant in Harlem. Khalil described an encounter between Jimmy and himself. He said that Jimmy told him about the conspiracy to murder Lowell Fletcher. After I heard this statement, it was hard for me to believe that Jimmy would talk about a murder in the middle of a public restaurant. Also, would he trust Khalil to give him this information? Why would he randomly boast about the murder knowing the information could come back to haunt him? On cross examination, David Touger did a great job asking some pointed questions: Did Khalil remember the exact date of the meeting? No, he did not. Could he provide travel records for the date in question? He had stated that he traveled from Atlanta to New York City to take this meeting with Jimmy among others?
Once again, Khalil could not produce any documentation that substantiated his travel to New York from Atlanta. As Touger continued to question, the courtroom assumed combative, as well as comedic tones. Because this is the fourth time Khalil has testified, he was calculating and savvy as he sat in his chair in front of the jury. At times, Touger managed to rattle him, but his arrogance and his annoyance were palpable. When I met with Khalil Abdullah, he made it very clear that he wanted to become a government witness because, in his words, “Jimmy was going to “proffer” against him.” (In this regard in a trial, to “proffer” is to offer evidence in support of an agreement with the government.) Khalil believed that it was a race to “proffer” so he could get a better deal. The only problem with that logic is that it is obvious that the government has a vendetta against Jimmy. The net was falling over Jimmy because the government did not have any desire to convict Khalil Abdullah. On redirect, Khalil reiterated the story about Mobay. In addition, he stated that when he and Jimmy tallied their weekly, drug expenses, Jimmy had decided to give a kilo of cocaine to the members of the murder crew. The street value at that time would have have been thirty-thousand dollars. Was that the price agreed upon? Would someone murder for a kilo, and then, in turn, have to sell it? If I was a jury member, I would be totally confused. I have been knee-deep in this world for years. The number of individuals, the nicknames, the Hip Hop violence, and the feuds: I am in overload. I can’t imagine how the jury is sorting out all of this information. I hope they are writing notes and asking many questions. They cannot use Google or read the transcripts, so they are dependent on the information that is given to them during the trial. It is my belief that the presentation by the government has to be precise and easily deciphered; unfortunately, to this point, it has not been so.
Khalil was subpoenaed by the government to testify; he did not, however, go willingly to the stand. It really did not matter. When I met him, he believed that he had fulfilled his obligation. I believe you are never done with the Feds. When a witness has a Cooperation Agreement, the heavy hand of the DEA, FBI, or the United States Attorney is a noose around your neck. If you do not cooperate, they can make your life miserable. At the end of the day, a witness came forward who had not previously testified in the prior proceedings. Jason Williams, Jimmy’s driver and a Jack of all trades in Czar Entertainment, took the stand. His presence was the polar opposite of what Mohammed Stewart and Khalil Abdullah had brought to the courtroom. Stewart and Khalil are arrogant hustlers and gangsters. Jason’s presence was the exact opposite; he was meek, reserved, and although he was thirty-five, he seemed like a stunted youth. His shyness produced answers that were non-committal, and I wonder if that will play differently for the assembled jury. If Touger does not do an incredible job on cross examination, I think the jury could actually believe Williams’ testimony.