When they arrived at Moisant International Airport, they carried cocaine with a street value of fifty thousand dollars in a small black suitcase. Packaged in single glassine envelopes, then bundled into batches of ten and secured by rubber bands, the potent drug arrived ready for sale on the streets. The case would fall to me as an Assistant District Attorney in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana to prosecute.
Henry Green acted as courier and his girlfriend Arlene Brown served as his shill to make them seem legitimate on their trip from New York City to New Orleans to deliver their valuable cargo. But the Jefferson Parish Narcotics Squad had received information from their counterparts in the Big Apple alerting them of the mission of the dope dealers.
The forty-five year old Henry Green wore an expensive tan silk sport coat over a burnt orange, silk polo shirt that clung to his muscular ebony frame. His beige silk slacks hung comfortably around his trim waist. No smile graced his smooth shaved face. He walked briskly thorough the corridors of the airport with Arlene next to him, as though they were truly a couple.
Model beautiful, nineteen-year-old year old Arlene was dressed in a sleek black Christine Dior dress that closely fit the sensuous cures of her shapely brown body. A bouquet of finely-coifed brown hair encased the chiseled features of her face. Her limpid mahogany eyes searched from side to side as the couple traversed the corridors of the airport.
As the pair approached the end of Concourse A with the small black suitcase in hand, four members of the Jefferson Parish Narcotics Squad, led by Lt. Jimmy Miller, approached them. Miller identified himself and his team and announced to the couple that they were under arrest for transporting illegal narcotics.
Immediately after the Saturday afternoon arrest, the New York couple was taken to the Jefferson Parish lockup to await a bond hearing the following Monday.
An elated Sheriff Al Cronvich held a press conference the first thing Monday morning, announcing to the local media the coup his narcotics squad had pulled off. This large narcotics bust would certainly help the proud sheriff in his up coming bid for re-election. The sheriff sat in a chair surrounded by his narcotics squad as the cameras rolled. On the evening news, the entire community could hear of the sheriff’s feat and also see the large holes in the soles of his shoes.
Al, a proud man, not possessed of mirth, Cronvich seemed none too pleased when I later said to him, “Sheriff, the whole world can see from your shoes that you have been pounding the campaign trail.”
Taking this as an affront, the red faced sheriff lashed back at me,“I have done my job. You just get a conviction.”
Trying to soothe the embarrassed sheriff, I told him, “Sheriff, I was not trying to put you down. Several good politicians over the years have been photographed showing holes in their shoes. Remember the famous photo of Adlai Stephens with holes in shoes while he was on the campaign trail for President of the United States.”
The still-offended sheriff shot back to me, “Yes, but I got elected, he did not.” I left the conversation at that.
At ten o’clock Monday morning, the New York pair appeared before Judge John Boutall. The judge set bonds of fifty thousand dollar bonds for each of the defendants. The bonds could be either cash or posted by a commercial surety–a bail bondsman who would require at least a ten percent fee.
Before four o’clock in the afternoon that Monday, Rock Hebert, a local bail bondsman rumored to have connections to organized crime figures, posted the fifty thousand dollar bond that freed Henry Green. Hebert provided no bond for Arlene, who had to remain in the Jefferson Parish lockup to await trial.
Late Monday night Henry Green boarded a plane for New York, never to be seen alive again in Jefferson Parish. On Thursday of that week, Lt. Jimmy Miller informed me that Green’s body, perforated with seven holes made by 9 mm slugs, had been found in a landfill in New Jersey. It became obvious to all of us that Henry Green’s bosses bailed him out of jail and then made sure he would not live to testify against them.
Rock Hebert saw to it that Arlene, who was left to fend for herself in the strange land of Louisiana, received legal representation.
Because Rock sent many clients to experienced criminal defense attorney Ralph Barnett, he was able to prevail upon Ralph to represent Arlene.
About a week after her arrest, Ralph came to my office to discuss a possible plea for Arlene. Over the years, Ralph and I had met one another in court dozens of times. We had a mutual respect for one another and knew when a case had to be tried and when we could agree on a plea bargain. Before we met, I had the narcotics squad check Arlene out. They could find no criminal activity in her past. She came from a middle class family and had been in college at Columbia University prior to her arrest.
The narcotics officers didn’t doubt that she knew the nature of her cargo, but thought this may have been her first venture in this business. They thought her to be naive and doubted she fully understood the possible consequences that could flow from her venture into the world of narcotics dealers. They were convinced she would meet the same fate as Henry Green if she were to return to New York.
Ralph and I agreed that his client would probably be assassinated if she returned to New York. I suggested to Ralph that Arlene’s future well being could best be served by pleading guilty to simple possession of cocaine and serving a few years at Saint Gabriel, the women’s’ prison just outside Baton Rouge.
Judge Boutall agreed to the plea. He sentenced Arlene to the safety of Saint Gabriel’s for three years. We were all aware that the young woman would be eligible for parole in about eighteen months, but hoped she could renew her life somewhere other than the mean streets of The Big Apple.