Best Known For
Melvin Williams is best known for becoming Baltimore's biggest drug dealer throughout the 1970's and 1980's.
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Paroled in 1996, Williams became a bail bondsman. He was arrested on a gun-possession charge in March 1999 for assaulting a man with a pistol and a stun gun during a dispute over a bail bond debt. After the first trial ended in a hung jury, Williams was convicted on the charge in October 1999.
Williams received a 22-year sentence for his crime. The stiff penalty was the result of his status as a career criminal. "Melvin Williams was one of the biggest drug dealers in Baltimore for 20 years and is as responsible for the drug culture that is dragging this city down as anyone. He doesn't deserve a break. He doesn't deserve leniency," assistant U.S. attorney James M. Webster told the Baltimore Sun.
Williams was released in January 2003 after a judge reduced his sentence to time served. After 38 months in prison, he claimed that he was going to take his life in a new direction. He had found religion and planned to do good works for the community. "Sometime in my 50s, I became aware that there was a God in charge, and not a Melvin," he told the court.
Serving as the inspiration for the character of Avon Barksdale, some of Williams's criminal exploits were featured in the HBO drama The Wire, which debuted in 2002. He also had a recurring role on the series, playing a church deacon. Former Baltimore police investigator Ed Burns and former Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon, both well acquainted with Williams, served as creators, producers and writers on the criminally acclaimed series.
In 2006, Williams filed incorporation papers for a vocational training organization called Correct Choices Inc. He is also an active member of his church. Despite whatever amends he makes, Williams still helped build Baltimore's heroin and cocaine trade, which has left the city to struggle with the associated problems of drug-related violence and the social costs of addiction.
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