June 4, 2014 at 11:54 am

Juror's sudden absence deepens mystery of fugitive drug trio

Detroit— A federal judge is investigating why a juror in a major narcotics trial went AWOL around the same time the fez-wearing drug defendants disappeared.

Juror David McIntosh of Detroit failed to attend closing arguments and deliberations in the case against Carlos Powell, one of the biggest drug dealers in Metro Detroit history, and three others.

It is unclear why the 48-year-old man failed to show up after a nearly two-week trial and whether his absence is related to the disappearance of Powell, his brother Eric Powell and friend Earnest Proge. His behavior deepens the mystery surrounding the search for the drug dealers, who are being hunted by the U.S. Marshals Service and face up to life in prison.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy ordered McIntosh to his courtroom June 11 to explain why he failed to show up for closing arguments and deliberations that ended in guilty verdicts against the three drug dealers and former state Rep. Kenneth Daniels. McIntosh was replaced by an alternate juror.

The judge likely is wondering if there is a connection between the missing juror and the missing drug dealers,said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University and a former federal prosecutor.

“That’s a question on the judge’s mind,” Henning said. “This is certainly a striking coincidence.”

McIntosh was the sole black male juror in a case involving four black defendants and one of the most prolific and profitable drug rings in Metro Detroit history. Carlos Powell’s operation generated tens of millions of dollars and was responsible for importing hundreds of kilograms of heroin and cocaine, and thousands of pounds of marijuana from Mexico, prosecutors said.

McIntosh sat through about two weeks of testimony before failing to show up at court for closing arguments May 8.

That’s the last day court officials saw Franklin resident Eric Powell and Proge, a Detroit resident. Both men were free on $10,000 unsecured bond.

McIntosh’s absence delayed the start of closing arguments and triggered a search by court officials.

“They tried his cellphone, his home phone number — they did everything short of sending a car out to his house,” said Proge’s lawyer Patricia Maceroni. “He was always on time and very attentive. Everyone was very surprised he did not show up.”

McIntosh could not be found and failed to show up on May 9 or May 12. That’s the day jurors reached guilty verdicts against the three drug dealers and Daniels.

When Carlos Powell, 39, of Washington Township learned there was a verdict, court officials said he cut his ankle tether and disappeared.

The Powell brothers and Proge were released on bond in 2012 despite a history of running from police, violating probation or committing crimes while free on bond. Federal prosecutors did not ask a judge to jail Carlos Powell, the drug kingpin, or request temporary detention.

The three men wore fezzes to court each day.

The men said they were members of the Moorish Science Temple of America. One court filing, on Moorish Science Temple of America letterhead, alleged the Powell brothers were not subject to U.S. laws and offered to pay money to settle the criminal charges. The judge dismissed the letter as frivolous.

All three should be considered armed and dangerous, prosecutors said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the U.S. Marshals Service at (313) 234-5656.

Maceroni had forgotten about McIntosh’s disappearance given the flight of her client and the Powell brothers.

“I’ve had jurors who have gotten in car accidents or violently ill or who have had family members ill and who can no longer participate,” Maceroni said.

“What was so unusual about what happened with this young man is there was just no communication.”

McIntosh’s relatives could not be reached Tuesday and nobody answered the door at his home on Detroit’s northwest side. According to a public records database and The News’ archives, he worked as a Comerica Park beer vendor as recently as 2006.

A Detroit police spokesman said there were no missing persons reports filed for McIntosh.

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service declined to comment on whether investigators have talked to McIntosh as part of the manhunt.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined comment.

Maceroni doubts there is any link between the juror and the missing drug dealers.

“No, no, absolutely not,” she said.

(313) 222-2028

Carlos Powell / David Coates / The Detroit News
Eric Powell (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Earnest Proge (David Coates / The Detroit News)