EVANSVILLE, Ind. — “Choppers in the closet. Pounds in the den.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Karwoski told jurors in the drug trafficking and money laundering trial of Richard Grundy III and four co-defendants in Evansville that she was quoting a rap song by a drug ring courier sent to Phoenix, Arizona, in 2017 to retrieve methamphetamine for resale on the streets of Indianapolis.
"Choppers," she explained, are guns, and "pounds" represented the narcotics the courier was buying for distribution back home in Indiana.
In her opening statement to the jury, Karwoski said Grundy and his associates allegedly transported $3.4 million worth of narcotics from the desert southwest to Marion County in the months before federal agents launched Operation Electric Avenue and locked up 26 people in November 2017.
Grundy faces a potential life sentence if convicted. Alongside him, Undrae Moseby, James Beasley, Ezell Neville and Derek Atwater are among the last handful of defendants who still face charges.
The federal government is arguing that Grundy was, “the top of the organization, making sure the organization was running smoothly,” by conceiving the plan, providing the financing, sending couriers to retrieve the drugs, and then overseeing their distribution in Indianapolis.
During the first day of testimony, jurors heard from two men who were admitted low-level users and dealers in the government’s attempt to paint a picture of the alleged Grundy drug ring from the ground up.
Isiah Finch testified that while he spotted Grundy at the scene of a pair of drug buys, the main defendant did not take an active role in either transaction.
At one point, Finch came down from the witness stand to identify Grundy at the defense table for jurors.
Throughout his multiple incarcerations on state charges that were eventually dropped or reduced over the past several years, Grundy has posted social media warnings to informants who cooperate with law enforcement.
Grundy’s attorney, Kenneth Riggins, told jurors that just because his client was present when drugs were being sold doesn’t prove his involvement.
“Richard Grundy is a young man who started his own record label, MOB Family Entertainment,” said Riggins, who told jurors they should expect to view offensive music videos produced by Grundy.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors will put perhaps their most significant witness on the stand: a longtime Grundy associate named David Carroll.
“He’s a slippery kind of guy,” said Riggins.
Carroll is expected to testify that Grundy organized the money for the Arizona drug purchases and then issued orders to sell the marijuana, cocaine, heroin and meth once it reached Indianapolis.
“David Carroll is the Walmart of drug dealers,” defense attorney Joshua Moudy told jurors. “Carroll is being rewarded handsomely for his testimony.”
The defense is already hammering hard at the plea agreements signed by the U.S. Attorneys Office with many co-conspirators to gain their testimonies and the motivations of those witnesses angling for more lenient prison sentences.
While Riggins criticized one potential witness for bringing his own son into the drug trafficking operation, prosecutors expect to call Richard Grundy, Jr. to the stand to testify about $80,000 in suspected drug proceeds that were found in his home the day of federal raids in late 2017.
Jurors listened to a few minutes of the thousands of phone calls that federal agents recorded through wiretaps that the government argues are proof of the drug dealing conspiracy.
There are also surveillance videos, intercepted text messages and travel itineraries that investigators say put some co-conspirators in locations to acquire and move drugs.
Lupita Thompson said her client, Undrae Moseby, traveled to Arizona, Texas and Alabama with reputed drug dealer and witness Mark Williams, but only to help his cousin further his own rap career, and on the day of the raids, “He happened to be at a house that was searched with other people.”
The case was moved to Evansville after a mistrial was declared three weeks ago when a list of confidential juror names was found in Grundy’s cell inside the Marion County Jail.
Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson expects the case to wrap up by August 22.