During opening statements of the drug conspiracy trial of former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Rickey Ross on Monday, a prosecutor portrayed him as a member of a narcotics organization who sought to purchase 22 pounds of cocaine from undercover officers.
But Ross' attorney contends that he is innocent and those testifying against him, a government informant and former Los Angeles Dodger Derrel Thomas, are "men of questionable background and character."
Ross and Thomas were arrested in April, 1992, in a McDonald's parking lot with $151,000 in the trunk of Ross' rented car. They were there, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jane Winston contended, to buy 22 pounds of cocaine from undercover agents running a sting operation.
Defense attorney David Herriford said that when Thomas takes the stand, he will explain why he was there and why he is not guilty of the drug charges. In December, Thomas pleaded no contest to conspiring to buy and sell 22 pounds of cocaine. In exchange for testifying against Ross, he will face no more than three years in prison.