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“Come on, man. Answer this jive phone. Keep getting the answering machine. … I’m around here. Give me a call, man…”

The confidential witness began walking around Congress Park when Ball pulled up in his Acura, saying he’d be back in a few minutes. Silver Star spotted Ball returning and told his FBI handlers listening in.

“All right fellas here he come.”

Silver Star got in the car. The deal was for four so-called “eight balls” of crack, which usually contain about 3.5 grams. This time, they were a little short.

“All these joints like 3 point 1’s…” Ball said.

“3 point 1?”


The deal was complete. Silver Star handed Ball $600, and Ball gave Silver Star a half-ounce of crack.

“Be safe, baby,” Ball said.

Silver Star drove back to the secret meeting spot with his FBI handlers. It was raining. With the half-ounce of crack in federal custody, Agent Lockhart ended the secret recording.

“This is Special Agent Rob Lockhart, FBI. The deal is complete. It’s 1:47 p.m., 7-26-2001.”

Another side

The significance of the transaction wouldn’t be known for years, when it formed the basis for the only charge that stuck against Ball, a man the federal government considered so violent that authorities saw him a prime candidate for death row.

Others, including a former White House official, view Ball very differently.

In 1998, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton took a trip across the Anacostia River to visit a nonprofit called the Southeast White House. The organization, based in Southeast, served some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Impressed by its work, Mrs. Clinton appointed a White House official to learn more and see how federal agencies could help.

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