Pubdate: Sun, 22 Sep 2002
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2002 The State
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


Augusta, Ga -- A veteran Augusta narcotics officer and a former member
of the Richmond County sheriff's crime suppression unit pitted their
credibility against a prosecution list brimming with convicted drug
dealers Friday.

Ralph Tyrone Williams, 36, and Joseph Ellick, 34, testified that they
are innocent of the drug-trafficking charges handed down by a federal
grand jury in February.

They are accused of conspiring from 1997 through August 2000 to
possess and distribute more than 50 grams of crack. The indictment
also alleged that Williams extorted money from a drug dealer.

"It was only talk on my part; that's why it never happened," Ellick
testified about statements he made to Ernest Smith as they discussed
what they would do to a Columbia drug dealer coming to Augusta.

This week, the jury heard tape recordings of Ellick and Smith
discussing how they could rob the dealer of his drugs and get away
with it, The Augusta Chronicle reported.

Ellick also testified that he was lying and acting like he was
conspiring with Smith because that was the best way to keep him

Smith wasn't a formal confidential informant, but he was a source of
information that helped the crime suppression team make dozens of
misdemeanor arrests in drug areas, Ellick said.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations by Monday
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