Earl Campbell apparently has decided it is time to go back to New York.
The 6-foot-6 Rock Hill man was nicknamed “Tall Man” by the dozens of cops who tailed him for almost a year as they say he masterminded the largest gun-running ring in New York City history.
After sitting in a Charlotte jail under suicide watch for more than six weeks, Campbell has waived extradition to New York in what police dubbed the “Iron Pipeline” illegal gun ring.
He is set to appear in court next week, according to prosecutors and his mother.
Campbell, 23, will make his first court appearance on 237 felony charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life just days after yet another gun attack in America saw a dozen people killed in Washington, D.C.
His mother, Carol Roseboro of Rock Hill, said she urged him to go to New York and deal with the charges, although she reiterated in an exclusive interview with The Herald that her son has not been proven guilty of any crime.
Campbell, a former athlete at Northwestern High School, has a criminal history of assault on a police officer, but no other convictions for weapons or violent offenses.
People make mistakes, Roseboro said, and people in Rock Hill who know her and her son have generally been supportive of her family despite what many have described to her as “one big mistake.”
Police, however, are not calling the allegations a mistake. The seizure of guns was the largest ever in New York, and police say Campbell sold those guns for big money.
Campbell sold guns throughout the year, prosecutors claim, and his first sale was on Roosevelt Place, not far from the former location of Ebbetts Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers played baseball. Prosecutors allege he then moved to Manhattan, near the Bowery and Chinatown in January.
Campbell was the runner and alleged mastermind before the arrests of 19 people – eight from Rock Hill – from South Carolina, North Carolina and New York that netted more than 250 weapons ranging from assault rifles to Saturday Night Special pistols.
It appears unlikely that Campbell will get a bond in New York less than $1 million, since two of his alleged Rock Hill co-conspirators remain in New York jails under million-dollar bonds themselves.
Another Rock Hill defendant charged in the gun-running scheme, Chris Hill, 24, was denied bond Thursday in a New York court because of the seriousness of the charges, his lack of ties to New York, and because he faces other charges in North Carolina, said Kati Cornell, spokeswoman for the New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
Police arrested Campbell after 24 illegal buys caught on surveillance video, wiretaps, dealing with police informants and more, according to indictments in the case. Prosecutors have text messages, phone calls and other evidence in which the guns and money are discussed, as well as the guns they say Campbell sold to undercover cops and a slew of informants.
Campbell is charged with illegally selling a total of 90 guns in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan – guns bought in South Carolina. Prosecutors say Campbell would ride a bus to New York carrying bags full of guns.
He was arrested in a pre-dawn raid in Charlotte on Aug. 5.
It is unclear what day next week Campbell will be taken to New York and formally arraigned, Cornell said.
“I don’t think we are going to have anybody from Rock Hill running any guns to New York any time soon,” said Marvin Brown, commander of the York County drug unit that spearheaded the local investigation.
The investigation into the ring continues, as police look to see if federal weapons laws were broken by the people involved in buying guns in South Carolina, said Sgt. Allen Cantey of the York County drug unit.
Campbell allegedly recruited several others to buy guns in South Carolina, where it is significantly easier to buy guns than in New York, then sold them at a profit of more than $75,000.
One of Campbell’s alleged suppliers, Larick Michaux, 26, of Rock Hill, faces 49 felonies and up to life in prison if convicted.
His sister, Warquisha “Choppers” Michaux, 28, faces 15 charges that could carry more than 75 years in jail.
Both are accused in the indictments of selling guns to undercover police. Each remains jailed under $1 million bond in New York, according to court documents and Cornell.
Their mother, with whom they lived, declined comment Thursday.
Campbell’s girlfriend, Kendall Danielle Jones, 23, of Rock Hill, who is charged with five gun-related felonies, is still fighting extradition to New York from her jail cell in Charlotte. She faces more than 30 years if convicted of all charges.
Arthur Antonio Barber, 27, of Rock Hill, is the only person who has been released on bond pending trial. His parents put up their Rock Hill home as collateral for Barber to make a $100,000 bond, Cornell said.
Brandon Potts, 24, of Rock Hill, remains jailed in New York.
Court cases for all the defendants are scheduled for December.
Marcel Dyess, 21, of Rock Hill, is already serving a year in a South Carolina prison for a hit and run conviction. New York prosecutors have filed a detainer against Dyess, Cornell said, which means that when Dyess’ S.C. prison time is up, federal agents will whisk him to New York to face four charges that carry more than 20 years in prison if convicted.