LOS ANGELES — Former professional football player Darryl Henley used cellular phones from his jail cell to try to arrange the contract killing of a federal judge and to have $1 million worth of heroin ferried cross-country by a jail guard, a federal prosecutor charged in court Tuesday.
The ex-Los Angeles Ram cornerback allegedly ordered hits on U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor, who was presiding when Henley was convicted of cocaine trafficking, and on a Ram cheerleader who was caught delivering drugs to Atlanta for Henley and testified against him in 1995.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Marc Harris said Henley used cellular phones smuggled to him by a guard to both orchestrate drug deals and hire a killer. In both cases, the deals were struck with undercover federal agents posing as criminals.
In a bail hearing Tuesday for guard Rodney Anderson, the prosecutor said federal agents had tape-recorded Henley discussing the heroin deal with an undercover agent as a way to finance the pair of $100,000 contract hits.
Anderson, a guard at the Metropolitan Detention Center since February 1994, knew about the planned hits and was using his "federal law enforcement connections" to track down the location of the former cheerleader, Harris said. Anderson, who was a guard on Henley's floor, routinely provided him with a cell phone for use during his shift, Harris said.
Although the contract hits became a central issue in Tuesday's court hearing, Harris said his office did not know if it had enough evidence to charge Henley with conspiring to kill Taylor.
"We have to make that decision," he said.
Taylor declined to comment on the alleged contract. Former Ram cheerleader Tracy Ann Donaho could not be reached for comment. But her attorney, Stephan DeSales, said both he and his client were "warned" about the contract. "We're aware of the potential threat. She's protected," he said.
Henley, 29, Anderson, 29, of Los Angeles, and Jimmy Washington, 49, Henley's alleged Detroit drug connection, were arrested Saturday and are facing federal drug trafficking charges. The cases against them will be presented to a grand jury next week.
Anderson is being held in protective custody at an undisclosed location in Orange County. Henley also is being held at an undisclosed location following his transfer from the detention center, where he has been held while his attorneys have fought to win a new trial of his cocaine trafficking conviction.
Harris refused to reveal how federal agents became aware that Henley was involved in narcotics trafficking at the jail, where he has been an inmate since March 1995. Harris also declined to say whether Henley was involved in any other drug deals while in jail or has made any other threats.
"We do not contemplate any further arrests in connection with this heroin transaction. I think we got all the players," Harris said.
The new charges are the second time Henley has been arrested for cross-country drug trafficking. In 1995, Henley was convicted of running a cocaine distribution network out of his Brea home, using Donaho, then 19, as a courier. Donaho, who was the key witness against Henley, was sentenced to four months in a halfway house and probation for her role.
Henley was awaiting sentencing and the outcome of post-trial motions at the downtown Los Angeles jail when federal agents learned of his new activities, authorities said.
According to court documents, Henley's plans began unraveling when an undercover drug agent called him May 16 in his cell and offered "large quantities of 'China White' heroin and cocaine" for sale.
Henley, using cell phones provided by Anderson, called Washington in Detroit to arrange a meeting the next day between the undercover agent and Washington in a Riverside hotel.
Henley informed the agent that he was working with Anderson, a guard he had known "a long time" and that Anderson could deliver the narcotics to Detroit, using his status as a federal peace officer to avoid detection.
Two days later, undercover agents met with Anderson at a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport and arranged a test run: Anderson would pick up 1.5 kilograms of what he thought was heroin at the airport the next day and take it to Detroit. If the drug run went through without a hitch, a bigger deal would be arranged.
On May 20, Anderson took the bag to Detroit, handed it to an undercover agent and returned to Los Angeles.
The following day, Washington again met with undercover agents and arranged to buy $1 million worth of heroin, taking a small sample to Detroit for testing. Henley told the agents that Anderson would transport the drugs to Detroit and Washington would handle distribution in Detroit.
On May 22, Anderson called in sick to make the drug run, but the deal appeared to fall through when Washington and his Detroit connections could not come up with the cash, court records show.