The Afro Dogs drug trial, two years in the making and five weeks long, ended Tuesday with a guilty verdict against only one of the five defendants.
The federal court jury in the high-profile cocaine-trafficking case found Van Miller Jr., son of retired broadcaster Van Miller Sr., and two others not guilty, and divided on the guilt or innocence of the fifth defendant, Dale Lockwood, brother of Deputy Police Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood.
The younger Miller broke down in tears upon hearing the verdict.
“It’s been two years of living with this,” said Gerald T. Walsh, Miller’s defense lawyer. “It’s great to have a jury speak and have the right to stand up in a courtroom and hear them declare you not guilty.”
The jury also found William Szymanski and Anthony Burley not guilty of taking part in the conspiracy.
“My client was a small-time user and had nothing to do with the distribution or the conspiracy, and the jury saw that,” said Robert M. Goldstein, Burley’s defense lawyer.
The only defendant found guilty was Dewey Taylor, who was convicted on eight separate felony charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Duskiewicz said Taylor faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life. He also noted that Lockwood will be retried on the conspiracy to distribute cocaine charge.
With the exception of Lockwood, the jury’s verdict ends the government’s prosecution of the Afro Dogs motorcycle club. Most of the original 12 defendants took guilty pleas in the case.
“I’m totally destroyed,” Andrew C. LoTempio, Taylor’s defense attorney, said of the jury verdict. “I can’t believe they did what they did.”
LoTempio thinks the jury’s decision hinged on the testimony of Ricky M. Allen Sr., the former Police Department insider who eventually took a plea deal and became a key witness at the trial.
Allen, former head of the Buffalo Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization, was accused of passing inside information about police investigations on to the alleged leader of the cocaine ring.
He also was the target of an attack last month that police believe was tied to his testimony in the drug case.
Ten to 12 shots were fired into Allen’s home; Allen, his wife and their 11-year-old son were at home but not injured.