Leader Of Jbm Sentenced To Life Aaron Jones Was Convicted Of Conspiring To Distribute $100 Million In Cocaine. He Plans To Appeal.

Posted: September 16, 1992

The leader of the Junior Black Mafia was sentenced yesterday to life in prison on charges of conspiring to distribute $100 million of cocaine in Philadelphia between 1986 and last year.

The JBM leader, Aaron Jones, 30, showed little visible reaction as the sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz. The life sentence was mandated under the federal drug-kingpin statute under which Jones was convicted.

Prosecutor Joel M. Friedman, who heads the organized crime unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office, made a brief but ardent statement at the sentencing hearing.

"Aaron Jones and the Junior Black Mafia, through violence and murder, tried to establish a government contrary to our laws," said Friedman. "This government pumped over 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of poisonous cocaine into our society.

"By imposing a life sentence today, the court and our system of justice sends a clear message that we will not tolerate the Junior Black Mafia or any other organization that seeks to terrorize our society and threatens our precious freedoms," Friedman said.

Jones' attorney, Gerald A. Stein, said yesterday that Jones was planning to appeal.

Jones and two other reputed leaders of the JBM, Bryan Thornton, 29, and Bernard Fields, 34, were convicted in April by a U.S. District Court jury of conspiracy and related drug charges. Jones and Thornton also were convicted, under the federal drug-kingpin statute, of operating a continuing criminal

drug enterprise.

In August, Thornton was sentenced to life in prison. Fields' sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 8.

At Jones' sentencing hearing yesterday, Katz said he was not imposing any fine because Jones already had agreed to forfeit $6.2 million in illicit drug profits. Thornton also has agreed to forfeit $6.2 million and Fields has agreed to forfeit about $7,000.

Jones, federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum, "was one of the founders of a violent drug trafficking organization known as the JBM or the Junior Black Mafia."

After founding the organization with another man, Jones took over exclusive leadership of the JBM, the memorandum said.

"Under the rule of Aaron Jones, the JBM aspired to control all of the drug business in Philadelphia," the memorandum said.

"To accomplish this end," the memo continued, "rival drug dealers were told to 'get down or lay down,' which meant that they had to purchase their drugs from the JBM or suffer potentially violent consequences. The JBM, at the direction of Aaron Jones, was willing to carry out this threat as evidenced by the large-scale violence undertaken by JBM members, including numerous shootings."

Jones is serving a 10-to-20-year prison sentence for aggravated assault and is awaiting trial in two other cases in state court. One case is for allegedly ordering the slaying in 1990 of a former JBM member.

Jones was among 26 with alleged ties to the JBM who were accused in a federal indictment in October 1991 of taking part in a conspiracy to distribute millions of dollars in cocaine in Philadelphia.

Of the 26 defendants, 10 have been convicted after trials and five have pleaded guilty, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison D. Burroughs. Nine other defendants are scheduled for trial in U.S. District Court in November. Two others are fugitives.

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