As a teenager on the south side of Chicago in the late 1980s, Euka Wadlington picked up two relatively minor drug-related felonies and served about a year in state prison. When he got out, he tried to turn his life around. During the 1990s, he worked diligently at many different jobs including garbage man, construction worker, car wash manager, tavern/club manager.
For a couple years in the mid-1990s, Euka managed a small tavern called Drummers Lounge, located in Clinton, Iowa, a small town on the Mississippi River, south of Davenport. Drummers catered mainly to blacks and although no drugs were sold out of Drummers, the Clinton Police Department kept a close watch on the club and on Euka, its manager. Officer Hartsock testified that he and his fellow officers did frequent surveillance on Euka’s club and raided the club in February, 1997, but never found any evidence of drug dealing. On one occasion, Hartsock arrested Euka on an ordinary traffic violation and took his mug shot. A paid police informant was later shown this mug shot to see if he could identify Euka as the unknown person the informant had described a month earlier as having been present during a drug deal.
In about 1995, a joint federal and state task force began investigating a crack cocaine-selling operation in Clinton headed by another south side of Chicago native named George Harper (aka Geo). During most of the time that Geo sold his drugs in Clinton, Euka was working five days a week as a garbage man in Chicago, 200 miles away from Clinton, Iowa.
In 1997, Geo and five associates were convicted of federal drug and conspiracy charges. The defendants received sentences ranging from 20 years to life, except for Jessica Sparlin who testified for the government and received a reduced sentence.
In 1998, the federal prosecutor who put Geo and his associates in prison, Clifford Cronk III, was looking for his next case and he set his sights on Euka. Cronk and his agents sent a local drug dealer named Mark Thomas (aka Flame) to Euka’s apartment in Chicago (Euka was at that time living in Chicago with his fiancé and her three kids and working construction) to try to set Euka up. Flame was instructed to try to get Euka to sell some cocaine to an under-cover agent named Jay, posing as an Iowa drug dealer. Flame was eager to help the authorities as he was hoping to avoid jail for his own drug dealing. (Flame, who is white, has admitted selling in the Town of Clinton more than five kilograms of cocaine and between 4.5 and 7 pounds of methamphetamine, beginning in the late 1970s. Flame has served a total of fourteen days in jail.)
Flame repeatedly called Euka to ask him to obtain the cocaine. Flame continually reminded Euka of his personal debt from when Euka had borrowed three thousand dollars from Flame to start his car wash. Flame arranged a meeting with Jay (the undercover officer) but Euka did not show up. Flame again called Euka and expressed anger at him for standing them up. Flame told Euka: “There should be some way to get this guy’s money. He’s got the money.” Euka proposed that they attempt to scam Jay.
Finally, after forty days of trying, Flame managed to lure Euka to a hotel near Midway airport in Chicago where he was arrested by federal agents. Euka possessed no cocaine and only about $3 in cash. He refused to cooperate with the authorities and identify other drug dealers and he was charged by indictment with an open-ended conspiracy to deliver cocaine spanning an eight year period.
At the time of Euka’s arrest in November 1998, the government had no evidence linking him to the “crack business” run by George Harper. No drugs, guns, large amounts of cash or other indicia of drug dealing were ever seized from Euka. His image is not seen on any of the 80 hours of videotape surveillance of Geo’s crack selling spots. Nor did the government find any cell phone, pager records, fingerprints or other tangible evidence linking Euka to Geo’s operation.
Nevertheless, the government built a case against Euka by offering leniency to other drug dealers in exchange for their testimony. Geo’s associates and other convicted drug dealers were offered the hope of reduced prison sentences to come to court and say that Euka was a major drug trafficker. Other drug dealers were given a chance to avoid prosecution by testifying against Euka. One drug dealer, Terrance Hood, was told that he would receive a life sentence unless he named Euka as his supplier. During the first interview of many of these witnesses, they told the agents that they had no knowledge of Euka’s drug activities but they would later change their stories at the government’s insistence. At trial, the prosecutor and his agents claimed to have misplaced the notes from these initial interviews.
Three weeks before trial, the prosecutor issued an illegal grand jury subpoena to a former girlfriend of Euka named Juanita, who then lived in Minnesota and was scheduled to testify for Euka at his trial. Prior to receiving this subpoena, federal agents had flown up to Minnesota to interrogate Juanita who truthfully told the agents that when she knew Euka in Clinton he was running his club, was not involved in drug dealing, had no money and wore the same clothes every day. The government arranged to put Juanita’s seven children in day care and flew her to Davenport, Iowa where she was interrogated by Mr. Cronk and his agents for nearly two days. Juanita continued to tell the truth and she was told that unless she admitted that Euka was a drug dealer and supplied her with drugs, she would not be returning to Minnesota and her seven children. According to the handwritten notes of one of the interrogating agents, Juanita finally agreed to say what the government wanted her to say about 40 minutes before her scheduled flight back to Minnesota.
On the eve of trial, defense counsel learned the story of Juanita’s illegal summons before the grand jury (once a case has been indicted, the government is not allowed to use the grand jury as a star chamber to turn witnesses to its side). Counsel filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. The trial judge (Charles Wolle) told defense counsel in chambers that he had never seen a lawyer cause more trouble and that he better quit “dilly dallying” around. Judge Wolle denied the motion to dismiss and Euka’s case preceded to trial as scheduled.
At trial, the government’s cooperating witnesses testified that Euka was at the center of George Harper’s crack selling operation, supplying all of the drugs and receiving all of the money. To combat this evidence, Euka called his former boss at BFI Refuse Company in Chicago who testified that Euka worked 6:00 a.m. to 4 or 4:30 p.m. five days a week collecting garbage during 1995 and 1996, the same period that he was supposedly running Geo’s crack houses in Clinton, Iowa, 200 miles from Chicago. Employees from Drummers Tavern in Clinton and from a Chicago car wash testified that Euka came to work every day and did not sell drugs. Euka’s mother identified pictures of the rented one-bedroom apartment where Euka lived at the time of his arrest along with his fiance, her brother, and their three children. None of this evidence was disputed; nor did the government offer any evidence of unexplained wealth although its witnesses conceded that if their testimony was truthful, Euka would have earned close to a half million dollars in 1995 and 1996.
In closing argument, the prosecutor told the jury that the reason Euka could live in Chicago during significant portions of the Clinton conspiracy was because he was so high up in the drug business that he had other people to run his business for him. The prosecutor also personally attacked defense counsel calling him dishonest and deceitful.
The jury convicted Euka and the trial judge sentenced him to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He was eligible for this sentence because of his two prior drug convictions.
After trial, two members of Geo’s drug-dealing conspiracy came forward and gave sworn statements that not only was Euka not the leader of their conspiracy, he was not even a member. It should be noted that these witnesses received nothing for coming forward and risked a great deal. One witness is serving out a lengthy prison sentence. The other witness, Jessica Sparlin, had testified for the government in 1997 against Geo and co-defendants and received a reduced sentence. When she finished serving her sentence, she was re-arrested and again prosecuted by Mr. Cronk who went after her with a vengeance in retaliation for her disloyalty to the government. Cronk argued in court that this mother of three should now receive an illegal life sentence. The judge refused to impose the illegal sentence but did agree to sentence her to more than twenty-years in federal prison. Jessica is currently serving her time at a Federal Prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
Two other federal prisoners, who were incarcerated with Geo and another member of theconspiracy named Tyrone Redmond, have also come forward and given sworn statementsdiscrediting the government’s case against Euka. According to these witnesses, Geo andRedmond both admitted that Euka was not involved in what they were doing in Clinton and that they intended to lie at his trial to earn a sentence reduction.
Lastly, a key government witness named Terrence Hood signed a sworn affidavitadmitting that his testimony against Euka was entirely fabricated and coerced by governmentagents who told him exactly what he had to say to avoid a life sentence. While the governmenthas tried to characterize Hood’s affidavit as a recantation, it is in fact something quite different.Hood was originally arrested by Clinton police in the fall of 1998 in possession of a large amountof crack cocaine. He then gave a tearful hour and half long videotaped post-arrest statement inwhich he named all of the people who have supplied him with drugs including his close friendsand neighbors. When the officers asked Hood about Euka, Hood stated that he never sold for Euka and that Euka was always telling to stay away from drugs and to stay in school. In the winter of 1998-1999, while Mr. Cronk was preparing Euka’s case for trial, his agents went back to Hood and during four to six interrogation sessions (the exact number is unknown because thegovernment has illegally refused to disclose its agents’ notes from these sessions), Hood was told that he was “on the train to getting a life sentence” and that “the only way for [him] to get off the train was to tell them something about Euka.” After these interrogation sessions, Hood went back to his jail cell and confided in his cell-mate, John McDuffy, that the government agents wanted him to “lie on a dude named Eukie” and had threatened him with a life sentence.
In mid-January, 1999, Hood was moved away from the jail in Clinton to a remote location where, according to his sworn affidavit:
They [government agents] said they knew that Euka had supplied me with drugs and that he beat me and abused me. Agent Dasso said that if I wanted to avoid a life sentence, I would have to tell him about those things. Eventually I agreed to say that Euka supplied me with drugs and physically abused me.
Hood further states that none of the things the agents made him say were true. “I agreed to say these things because I believed it was my only way to avoid a life sentence.”
After testifying against Euka, the government arranged for Hood to receive a sentence of probation. By now coming forward and telling the truth, Hood took a great risk that Mr. Cronk would retaliate against him, as he retaliated against Jessica Sparlin and other witnesses who have tried to tell the truth.
Euka presented his new evidence back to the trial judge, as he was required to do under the rules of habeas corpus. Judge Wolle summarily dismissed his habeas petition refusing to even hold a hearing or listen to any of the new witnesses. In November 2005, the Federal Appellate for the Eighth Circuit dismissed Euka’s appeal and in 2007 the Supreme Court refused to hear his case, ending his last hope that he will ever live again as a free man.
Until now. President Barack Obama has the power and authority to grant Euka Wadlignton's Petition for Sentence Commutation. Share Euka's story with your family and friends. Urge President Obama to commute Euka's sentence by taking a moment to sign the petition on this site. Help finally bring justice to an utter miscarraige of justice in the US legal system and help set free Euka Wadlington.