We’ve reported a few times on the case of Cleveland kingpin Tevaughn “Big Baby” Darling. It is said that he inherited a cocaine empire from his incarcerated father. The 54-part conspiracy charge levied against him claims that he oversaw a network that flooded the streets with heroin between April and September. Darling was allegedly “flush with cash” when he was arrested in September, and continued controlling blocks from behind the wall. Today, Darling threw in the towel and pleaded guilty. The deal he struck wit prosecutors will “eliminate seven drug trafficking charges, as well as a major drug offender attachment that could have lead to a much harsher prison sentence if Darling was convicted at trial.”
Darling was also implicated in a deadly mass shooting at The Chalk Linez barbershop, in Warrensville in February 2015. He forced to hire a new attorney after his counsel Ralph DeFranco got caught up in the conspiracy. According to Cleveland.com:
Darling conducted drug transactions from his Cuyahoga County Jail cell and arranged to pay for the defense of three other gang members under the premise that one of them would take the fall for him in court, according to the motion.
DeFranco represented Aaron Ladson, a witness in the barbershop shootings who was jailed in a separate criminal investigation. DeFranco argued for Ladson’s release against the recommendation of the prosecutors who said that Ladson faced threats of retaliation. Ladson was killed in June 2015 after his release.
Darling will learn his fate from Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge Nancy Fuerst at sentencing on Thursday. His co-defendants, Duane “Worm” Washington and Laurie Jones, have also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on May 17. The cases of three others, Terri Buckner, Erica Crawford and Rodney Willis, are still pending.