The Story Behind a New Style of Drug-Dealing in Milwaukee

For years, a close-knit crew of young men on the North Side ran a wildly successful, and highly illegal, small business. The Big Money Addicts tore across town in stolen cars and raked in up to $28,000 a day dispensing heroin to addicts, forever changing the way drugs are sold in the city.

The plan was meticulous, if unremarkable in the wider field of undercover narcotics investigation. Two plainclothes Milwaukee Police Department officers would ride down in an undercover car with an informant who, while wearing a recording device, would purchase a gram of heroin, a “G,” from members of Big Money Addicts, a four-member gang that rolled around town in stolen cars with darkly tinted windows, carrying Uzi-like handguns with extended magazines (“extendos”) in their laps. The cops would search the informant before and after the buy (to forestall any chance of the person planting evidence) and monitor hand-to-hand sale the best they could, while two detectives in another unmarked car followed behind.

Speeding down the highway, the informant put the plan into action by dialing the BMA hotline, a number it distributed on business cards advertising “24 hour” towing and auto services, and placed the phone on speakerphone. In May of 2015, this was for many addicts in Milwaukee the easiest way to buy heroin – easier in some ways than hailing an Uber or going through the drive-thru at McDonald’s.

Rashawn Smith. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office

A man answered the phone. “Where you at?” he said. It sounded like Rashawn Smith, BMA’s handsome oldest member, a thin, personable man with fine features. He was the closest thing the loosely structured gang, which operated as the four musketeers – all for one and one for all – had to a leader.

“Shit, I’m mobile,” said the informant. “Where do you want me to go?”

“Get off on …”


“Get off on Keefe.”

Keefe Avenue was home turf for then-24-year-old Rashawn, who had first started selling drugs there as a teenager, and as of May 2015, the roads surrounding the street’s Interstate 43 exit remained a veritable roundabout of drug dealing and prostitution. As the undercover car drew closer, the informant made another call to the BMA hotline and ordered a “G,” and Rashawn said to meet on 11th Street, just south of Keefe, in what turned out to be a quiet backwater.

The afternoon had been muggy and drizzly, and the undercover car rolled down a long, tree-lined hill past a number of stark duplexes and vacant lots that stood out like missing teeth. The undercover car pulled to the side and waited, and a blue Volkswagen sedan rolled up with murky, tinted windows, the hallmark of the BMA, known within MPD as part of the “Tint Crew” network.

The driver, a woman wearing a pink and purple track jacket, honked, and the informant got out and talked to Rashawn, who was wearing a white “wife beater” tank top and sitting on the passenger side. He said to follow them, and the sedan continued a short distance to a brown and tan house with a reinforced screen door, where an older man was waiting out on the sidewalk. The cops parked in front of the sedan, leaving the rear to the detectives.

The older man walked up to the Volkswagen and leaned over to chat with Rashawn, or “Ra Ra,” who had a bandage on the back of his shoulder and a silver handgun draped across his lap, turned as if for a left-handed shooter. Behind him in the shadows of the back seat was Kyawn Lewis, 22, sometimes called “Ra Ra’s little brother” because Lewis was a couple years younger (the two share a birthday on July 30) and the older gangster’s inevitable sidekick. Lewis was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and stylish jeans with a multi-colored pattern.

The informant ambled up to the klatch that had formed – knowing the calm could break at any moment, and BMA could start shooting – and handed Rashawn $140 in cash, which he laid on his lap next to the gun. Kyawn and Rashawn set to weighing out just shy of a gram of heroin using a small digital scale disguised as a CD case, and at one point, Rashawn sent the faux jewel case back to Kyawn for more off-white powder. (He was notorious for shorting customers.) BMA sold so much heroin that its members often neglected to package, or individually wrap, portions for sale in plastic or tin foil, instead dumping the drug directly into users’ hands. Rashawn and Kyawn wanted to do that now, but the informant asked for a wrapper or something, and the older man from the house pulled a piece of plastic off a cigarette pack.

The informant tried to chat up Rashawn. “Where you been?” he said, and Rashawn answered vaguely that he was going through some things. He didn’t want to talk about the bandage, which was related to a shooting.

BMA went on their way, the cops theirs. Minus the packaging, the heroin weighed a bit short, 0.82 grams, enough for a user to get high several times, depending on purity, and, for most people, probably enough to overdose.

Right then, in the spring of 2015, BMA was at the heart of the sprawling “Tint Crew” investigation by Milwaukee police, which eventually led to the arrest of 15 loosely connected gangsters. While BMA, by its own design, had a closed membership of four, it had either directly inspired or evolved alongside a number of similar drug dealers, such as Breion Woodson – a copycat who was sentenced to 19 years in prison on cocaine and gun charges – with more convictions to come. Beginning in early 2015, MPD organized a special task force to bust armed drug dealers who, like BMA, tinted their windows and exploited the department’s ban on high-speed chases (in most circumstances), still in force from Chief Ed Flynn’s enactment in 2010 after feeling vehicles struck and killed a total of four pedestrians. The no-chase policy allowed BMA and other loosely affiliated gangsters to operate with a certain impunity and speed away from attempts to pull them over – or, to follow Rashawn’s playbook, after waiting for the cop to stop and get out. He and Kyawn and David Harris (“Fifty”) and Errion Green-Brown would drive off in this manner, surging with adrenaline and feeling invincible.

This antagonized MPD and other area police departments to no end, and a handful of veteran officers signed on to respond, with the understanding that they’d still be responsible for their regular duties. The deepest well of knowledge on the Tint guys and BMA in particular rested with Dean Newport, an Irish cop with 20 years on the force who tended to keep a short goatee and had a long history on Milwaukee streets. He’d been following Rashawn since well before 2015, and when someone close to the gang wound up in court, he’d often be there to testify or help the prosecutor. The cases frequently fell to Assistant District Attorney Laura Crivello, who, in making arguments, summons an everyday person’s disgust and impatience with drug dealing and crime.

While the investigations grew deep and wide, Crivello zeroed in on BMA and used rarely relied-upon state-level racketeering charges (which refer, technically, to a “racket,” or dishonest business that creates its own demand) to entangle the four in a prosecutorial web authorities feel will be nearly impossible to wriggle out of. The gang, the clique – the terms don’t apply as neatly as they used to – was businesslike, a machine for vacuuming up money from local drug users about as quickly as possible using specially outfitted stolen cars and SUVs they hoped would make them impossible to track and identify. When the crew graduated from dispensing heroin to carrying out shootings and ambushes in response to perceived beefs, the racketeering investigation kicked into high gear, and the hammer came down. The complex case is scheduled to climax this fall and winter with jury trials and sentencings, and many cops are slated to testify, including up to 4 percent of MPD’s ranks.

BMA could be the poster gang for the smaller, nimbler outfits that now predominate across the broader Midwest, where the “buy local” ethos seems to have seeped even into drug dealing and gun running. Once-powerful Chicago-area organizations such as the Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples, which formerly held great influence in Milwaukee, no longer hold the same sway. “In some places, the old gangs are completely gone,” says John Hagedorn, a professor of criminology at the University of Illinois at Chicago who ran a gang diversion program in Milwaukee in the 1980s. “And in others, they’re isolated in small neighborhoods.” As with BMA, “gang” associations are more informal and could be driven by friendship, geography, interactions over social media or even similar interests in music. “It seems like quite often in Milwaukee these crews change up based on where they’re residing,” said Crivello, the prosecutor, at Breion Woodson’s sentencing.

Hagedorn released a landmark report on the Milwaukee drug trade in 1998 that used anonymous, census-like surveys of dealers in two sample neighborhoods on the North and South Sides, both of which were bustling with drug sales. In each, he learned that about 10 percent of the young black or Hispanic men, ages 18-29, received some degree of income from the drug business, whether as street runners, more wealthy dealers or lookouts. Just like legitimate small businesses, many drug outfits employed only a handful of people and frequently went out of business – the average dealer didn’t make that much money, and many worked additional part-time or full-time jobs to make ends meet. Some sold cocaine or heroin for a few days at the beginning of each month, when public assistance dollars flowed into people’s accounts and revenue was greater. Crime paid, though in most cases not very well.

Still, for Rashawn and his musketeers, BMA grew to hold a certain permanency. Photos courtesy Rashawn had a special BMA tattoo of a syringe injecting into a stack of cash on the inside of his left arm, and Kyawn had something similar on the inside of his wrist. David Harris’ tattoo depicted cash rolled up inside a syringe, as if the money itself were the drug, and Errion Green-Brown had tattoos but not one dedicated to BMA.

They all became notorious, breaking the number one rule of drug dealing: Don’t become notorious. For most dealers, anonymity is the one reliable protection against law enforcement. At any given time in Milwaukee, there are hundreds of dealers operating in and out of the shadows, behind well-maintained homes or out of worn-out cars. Dealers who stand out often get busted, and those who sell directly to users, as BMA did, make prosecution easier as they don’t employ runners or mid-level intermediaries to mask their identities from drug purchasers and possible informants. Having established itself as a 24-hour delivery service for heroin, BMA had no time for formalities, only money.

Rashawn had a long history of using the musketeer’s creed – all for one and one for all – to pull together groups of bored and pliable young men. When he was 17 and a student at the Maasai Institute, a then-new charter high school on the North Side, he told fellow students, and buddies, Dominique and Emmett that he was going to beat someone up after class, as he needed some “quick money.” The school was housed in an old red brick Catholic school on North 39th Street that contained a half-dozen classrooms, and there was a wide parking lot that served as a blacktop playground.

The three boys walked next to it as they were leaving school on Feb. 18, 2008, and it had been blowing steadily, and snowing intermittently, all day.

Seconds earlier, a man named Kevin had walked out of the former convent adjoining the Maasai Institute, a shorter red brick building where a concrete statue of Mary stood watch. The nuns had been replaced by men and women with HIV, as the building was now operated by the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin as transitional housing, and Kevin had set out to catch a bus at the intersection of Hampton Avenue and Hopkins Street, about a block away, which required going past the front doors of the high school next door.

As he walked, a voice called out from a group of three young men, standing near some bushes: “Faggot!”

To Rashawn, Kevin was just a warm body, the first he’d seen since walking out of school, and he chased after him and punched him in the head, knocking him onto the ground. The boys piled in, jabbing and kicking the downed figure. “Give me your wallet!” one of them yelled, but Kevin held tight to the pocket containing it.

In the chaos that followed, he hooked an arm around Rashawn’s leg. “Let go!” Rashawn said, and Kevin screamed for help.

The three would-be robbers ran off, and Kevin limped back to the nunnery, where some of the other residents banded together to walk with him to the bus stop. When they got there, Kevin looked out across the busy intersection and saw the high school boys loitering outside a gas station as if not knowing what to do next. One of the other residents flagged down a police car, and officers collared all three of the boys. When they questioned Rashawn, he explained that he’d been bored. The ultimate plan was to split the money three ways, to work as a team.

Sentenced as an adult, Rashawn received a six months stint at the local House of Correction, with work-release time to go to school. By this juncture, he was already selling small “nickel bags” of marijuana on the side, but he wouldn’t progress to dealing heroin until age 19, by his own account, with his first turf being in the vicinity of Fourth Street and Keefe Avenue, as tough an area as any. He completed high school but appears to have focused on drug dealing in the years after and palled around with Kyawn, with whom he formed BMA in the summer of 2014, along with David and Erroin, according to prosecutors.

Kyawn Lewis. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office

Kyawn had looked for a job after graduating from high school but had a hard time finding one and, like Rashawn, started selling heroin. Kyawn’s first significant bust came in 2011, when he was caught with about three-quarters of a gram of the drug prepackaged, while riding in a friend’s car with no taillights – a lesson to look after whatever vehicle you’re using to transport an illegal substance.

His mom, Latoria Hull, wrote a letter to the court pleading that her son be sent to a drug treatment center so he could see firsthand the effects substances have on the people who use them, people like his customers. She explains that Kyawn was an athlete who “had dreams of becoming a professional basketball player, being a coach or a referee,” and if that didn’t work out, “He also had a backup plain, being a forensic scientist or a lawyer.”

She’d wanted him to go out of state for college, to avoid bad influences in Milwaukee, instead of looking for a job here. Very recently, he’d applied to the Job Corps skills-training program in Milwaukee and been accepted to Sanford-Brown College, part of the national chain of now-closed for-profit colleges, to study business management.

News of MPD’s new pursuit policy, instituted in 2010, filtered into BMA’s circles gradually. The four had heard a rumor that the cops wouldn’t chase you if you fled, and someone came up with the idea of testing the theory.

It worked, and the knowledge set in motion a new modus operandi, the “roving drug house” as the Journal Sentinel would later call it. The four thought they could operate in near-secrecy, given how they’d transformed their vehicles into black boxes that revealed little to no information: BMA exclusively drove stolen cars equipped with stolen (or faked) plates and heavily tinted windows they got done at an auto shop on North Avenue called Godfather Electronics and Wheels, where a faded exterior sign says “Warehouse Electronics.” The tall, cream-colored building next to the North Side YMCA services a steady procession of cars, installing car stereos, security alarms and expensive wheel rims.

Each stolen car cost a small amount of cash, something like $500, and came from one of a variety of sources. One group of professional car thieves would call Rashawn to advertise its inventory, or he would call to check in with them. Once BMA received a car, it would fix the brakes, check the fluids, and perform whatever maintenance necessary to make sure nothing could either prompt a traffic stop or malfunction while fleeing police.

The members of BMA worked hard. Rashawn’s phone would light up more than 100 times a day with people wanting to buy heroin (about every 14 minutes, not counting sleep), and he would deliver to about 50 of those callers. He sometimes slept in the car he was using and often didn’t bother to dilute the heroin he sold with Dormin, an over-the-counter sleep aid. According to GPS tracking by police, he sometimes drove up to 400 miles a day, approximately the one-way distance to Cincinnati.

In May 2014, two Milwaukee police officers on patrol happened across a group of young men standing around a dusty, green Chrysler 300M car parked a few inches too far from the curb on North 30th Street. As the squad rolled by, the men made sudden, furtive movements of the type police are trained to notice, as if dropping objects at their feet and under the car, where the cops soon found a small collection of baggies containing crack cocaine, Oxycontin pills and marijuana, and a small, loaded handgun under the front passenger seat, similar to a Saturday night special.

David Harris. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office

One of the men was David Harris, who at first played it cool and sat down on the Chrysler’s hood with his back to the police. Before officers took him to jail on minor charges, they searched his pockets and found $450 in cash and three cell phones.

Most importantly, this mini-bust happened outside 3132 N. 30th St., an address that would prove pivotal to unravelling BMA. A dumpy brown and gray single-family home next to a large vacant lot, it was the closest thing the gang ever had to a central stash house for money and drugs. Rashawn had previously lived in a house, now demolished, a block north, and the general area was a hot one circa 2014. That year, police investigated 10 homicides within an eight-block radius of the stash house.

The gang didn’t own the house on 30th St., nor were they on the lease (that was a woman who seemed to stay out of their hair), so associating it with Harris was valuable intel. However, it’s unclear how quickly MPD made the connection and pegged it to a key part of the rising “Tint Crew.”

In mid-June, the boys of BMA threw a raucous party at the stash house, where they flashed guns and reveled in their status as neighborhood cowboys, apparently not worried that uninvited guests had turned up and spilled out onto the yard. Nobody in the neighborhood called police, according to call records – they showed up on their own, finding a scene of about 25 partiers in the front yard, including a man who was waving an airsoft gun around and complaining about four guys inside the house brandishing real guns. The scene behind the house was more interesting, where cops found a discarded dinner plate piled with cocaine and stuffed in a bag, along with a plastic SpongeBob container (labeled “Joy Ride”) that contained chunks of heroin in a baggie.

The BMA members had beaten a hasty retreat and were nowhere to be found, although MPD technicians found fingerprints from Kyawn and David on the cocaine plate. Dean Newport, the police officer, also turned up at the house that day, according to later testimony, and gathered information that has been used in the racketeering case. Prosecutors didn’t charge BMA with possession of the above heroin until much later, when law enforcement was more intent on keeping them behind bars.

For now, the four were largely left to their own devices, but the stash house bust had created a serious problem. Their supplier, a man named Robert Spencer who often sold them large quantities of heroin on consignment (meaning they paid him after selling it to users), thought they were lying about the police taking the heroin and wanted the full $8,000 due to him and not the $3,000 Rashawn had provided. Normally $8,000 was no sweat, as BMA could generate up to $28,000 a day, split evenly within the group, but Rashawn just didn’t think they owed the extra $5,000.

In September, Spencer came across the upstart gangster on the North Side, in an open street, and the then-35-year-old hardened ex-con emptied Rashawn’s pockets, pointed a gun at his side and said, “Come with me. You’re going to die.”

A local rapper known as Tay Gutta (real name Tavion Milams) was there with Spencer, and after a struggle, Spencer’s gun went off and hit Milams by accident, killing him. Rashawn got away, and Spencer was later sentenced to 28 years in prison, having never gotten his $5,000.

The winter of 2014 passed in relative quiet for BMA. By now, both Rashawn and Kyawn had fathered young children with their girlfriends: Rashawn’s daughter had been born the previous summer, and Kyawn’s little boy was going on three years old. In February of 2015, MPD began to make a more concerted effort to investigate the gang, according to court documents, and BMA underwent its own shift. Come spring, the gang began to branch out into serious acts of violence, starting with David’s plan to go after a man named Trevon Harris, who he claimed had been involved in shooting up a house and grazing the scalp of David’s little sister. Driving a stolen silver Nissan, Rashawn happened upon Trevon, who was driving a white car, on busy Teutonia Avenue, and the BMA leader called in the hit squad, which amounted to David in a hot Subaru SUV with Kyawn riding shotgun. The two BMA vehicles converged on Trevon at another intersection on the North Side, closing in on him like pincers, and David popped open the driver’s door and unloaded with a black handgun, shooting him three times.

From what BMA knew, Trevon was probably dead. After regrouping at a spot down the road, David and Rashawn took the SUV to a quiet residential neighborhood, doused it with gas from a gas can and sparked it off.

Meanwhile, blood was spurting out of Trevon – but he was very much alive, as the other person riding in the car with him rushed them to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Trevon was ultimately paralyzed from the neck down and gave a statement to detectives but could only identify Rashawn, who he said had used the stolen Nissan to box him in. The case progressed slowly.

At the beginning of May, BMA pooled their money, $21,000, and bought 300 grams of heroin in three sandwich bags from a supplier, enough to keep them in business for awhile, recent misadventures be damned. Rashawn spent money elsewhere as well, at Bouchard’s clothing and shoe store on North Martin Luther King Drive, where someone shot at him while he was shopping, he later told police.

Rashawn and Kyawn made no effort to steer the gang away from violence and back onto undistracted moneymaking. Kyawn had his own score to settle, from a dispute dating back several years.

In 2011, he and a friend stole two 42-inch TVs from a house near Washington Park, and the MPD detective who lived across the street caught the whole-break-in on tape. The cop then dropped his video camera and chased the men down the back alley, where they abandoned the TVs.

Police used fingerprints from the flatscreens to identify Kyawn Lewis, then 19. The owner’s son, Dionte Paige (who knew Kyawn) seconded the confirmation via the detective’s video. Kyawn was sentencecd to a year in the House of Correction, plus a long period of probation that finally ended in early 2015.

By the time Dionte and Kyawn encountered each other at the now-shuttered Mango’s night club on the North Side, in mid-May, they had already crossed paths several times. But something was different on this occasion, and when Paige left the club to pick up a young woman in his car, he was involved in a hit-and-run accident at 12th and Walnut streets, in a poorly understood set of circumstances. Afterward, he took his car to the red-striped Locust Quik Mart at Locust Street and Teutonia Avenue, and as he went inside to buy some snacks, he noticed a gold Ford Malibu pull up outside with three guys in it.

He called the woman on her cell phone and told her to lock the doors.

The Locust Quik Mart is small and filled with brightly colored drinks in coolers and rows of boxes of chips, and there’s only one way in or out. Paige carried some food to the front counter and was standing over by the coolers when Kyawn walked in, trailed by another man, believed by police to be David. Kyawn got up in Paige’s face, shoved him and said, “Watch it bro” while grabbing at his pants pocket as if to check for a gun.

Paige swung at Kyawn and missed and ran out of the store, where, according to police, Rashawn stood up from the front passenger side of the Malibu and opened fire on Paige, only clipping him on the hip, despite shooting at a range of about three feet. On the surveillance video, Kyawn is seen stumbling as he runs out the door after the intended victim, who dives into his car, but the BMA car speeds off first. In court, Newport described the operation as “a calculated focal movement together like an ambush … Everybody had a role in this.”

Paige cooperated with police at first, and there was security camera footage identifying Kyawn as he came running out of the store, but a little under two weeks went by before police arrested him and Rashawn. In the meantime, police orchestrated multiple “controlled buys” with the BMA men, including the one described at the beginning of this article – drug purchases using informants wired with recording devices. MPD wanted a big, durable drug case, and this was a relied-upon way to expand it.

With the racketeering case more or less complete, officers moved to arrest Rashawn and Kyawn on May 27, D-Day for BMA, using the attempted homicide charges from the Dionte Paige shooting. They found Rashawn at his apartment on the far North Side, along with more guns and drugs.

Kyawn didn’t go willingly – he tried to jump out of a second-story window at the apartment building where he was staying on the Northwest Side and got stuck. The opening was too narrow.

In the apartment, police found his girlfriend and young son sitting on an air mattress, plus some heroin on a dresser, a diamond-encrusted watch, jewelry store receipts totaling $1,500, $3,620 in cash, a pair of diamond-studded Cartier brand sunglasses, and a yellow folder, labeled “BMA,” that held “two sheets of an attempt at rap music.” Both Rashawn and Kyawn’s living situations had surprisingly little to show for the large amounts of cash their hands touched, beyond the occasional jewelry or now-deleted Instagram photos of Kyawn fanning out money while partying. He or his girlfriend had also saved hard copies of similar pictures of him fanning out cash, which seemed to be as much the point as spending it on worldly possessions.

Errion Green-Brown. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office

While Rashawn was in jail, Newport interviewed him in short bursts across three days, getting as much out of him as possible. Later, Paige stopped cooperating in the investigation, and the attempted homicide case was dismissed. Neither Rashawn nor Kyawn went free, however, because of possession charges left over from the long-ago raid of the 30th Street stash house. For whatever reason, prosecutors took awhile in filing it, and a large jail bond set by the court covered the gap until the racketeering case officially hit the court system in December 2015. Police also used the possession case to lock up David and the racketeering one to jail Errion.

In early 2016, something unexpected happened: Trevon Harris died, and the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled it the months-late result of the shooting. Trevon had had a phrenic nerve stimulator installed, a machine sometimes used to aid quadriplegics in breathing, and it had malfunctioned, killing him. The Medical Examiner’s office had found a bullet still lodged in the lower part of his skull.

In a mood to cooperate, Rashawn gave a full statement to MPD on the Trevon shooting and how it went down, contradicting only Trevon’s insistence that Rashawn had boxed him in. Kyawn also testified against David, who went to trial for the shooting, but with a trail of evidence that led right through the two former accomplices’ credibility, he was acquitted.

As of summer 2017, all four BMA members were still in jail in Milwaukee, and the racketeering case had extracted guilty pleas from Rashawn and Kyawn, both now cooperating with prosecutors. Co-defendants David and Errion Green-Brown have jury trials slated for February, as of press time, and prosecutors have nearly bulletproofed (whether literally or figuratively) the witness list filed for Harris’ case, which relies heavily on police officers, including about 60 from Milwaukee and a dozen from other agencies.

All four men are still in their mid-20s and facing long prison sentences, after which they’ll likely reemerge as something closer to middle-aged men. “Gang members are kids when they start off,” says John Hagedorn, the criminologist, who argues that drug dealing can be seen in part as an entrepreneurial reaction to a lack of other opportunities, and one that’s become more chaotic in the void left by the old gangs. “We’re in a really intense period of change.”

Sources on all sides of the BMA case declined multiple requests to comment for this story – which was primarily reported through police and court records – although MPD spokesman Timothy Gauerke defended the department’s pursuit policy as “similar to that of other police departments in similar sized cities.” Shortly after his comments, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission ordered the department to alter the policy, already a 17-page document, to allow chases of “high value” targets ranging from drug dealers to repeat high-speed offenders. Thirteen out of 15 Common Council members had protested the pursuit policy, which they blamed for a rise in hit-and-run deaths – the same problem Flynn had originally hoped to solve.

In April, David Harris was released from jail, following his acquittal in the Trevon Harris case, but he soon landed back behind bars after testing positive for the opiate oxycodone. During a court hearing that touched on the failed drug test, he charged his public defender, Milwaukee lawyer Richard Hart, as he was being buzzed into the locked part of the courtroom, and sent him flying sideways. Newport stormed up behind and tackled Harris in the aisle as about a dozen people looked on from the gallery. “Public pretender!” Harris yelled at Hart. “Punk ass defender bitch!”

Harris now faces new bail-jumping charges but contends the whole situation was “blown out of proportion,” and he wasn’t trying to flee. He was just pissed at his lawyer, who shortly thereafter withdrew from the case.

If David’s trial goes forward, it will be monumental, and both Rashawn and Kyawn have promised to testify against him and drive two more nails into BMA’s coffin. The group’s trust may be broken, but its way of operating has pushed drug dealing further out into the street, into the public square and out of the shadows. ◆

Tune in to WUWM’s (FM 89.7) “Lake Effect” September 19 at 10 a.m. to hear more about the story.

Matt Hrodey is a senior editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Write to him at

‘The Notorious B.M.A.’ appears in the September 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Matt has written for Milwaukee Magazine since 2006, when he was a lowly intern. Since then, he’s held the posts of assistant news editor and, most recently, senior editor. He’s lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, and Indiana but mostly in Wisconsin. He wants to do more fishing but has a hard time finding worms. For the magazine, Matt has written about city government, schools, religion, coffee roasters and Congress.