Lock 'Em Down Records CEO Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges

Earlier this year, Dewanzel "Jazz" Singleton, president and CEO of East St. Louis-based Lock 'Em Down Records was the subject of a feature story in the RFT. Singleton was arrested in August and faced felony charges of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.

The DEA alleged that Lock 'Em Down Records was "financially supported by illegal drug proceeds."

At the time Singleton maintained his innocence.

Here’s an excerpt from that story, published January 9:

"Singleton, who has never been convicted of a crime in his life, has pleaded not guilty. He points out that the DEA has failed to produce any hard evidence: no cash, no drugs or paraphernalia. Despite being under heavy surveillance, he notes, he has never been seen conducting a single narcotics transaction. Though several DEA sources provided circumstantial evidence against him, not one claims to have purchased drugs from him or to have seen him sell drugs.

'If you caught me doing something wrong, then I can understand,' he says during an interview at a downtown St. Louis restaurant. 'OK, take me away, I got to pay my debt to society, that's the way it goes. But [they] haven't caught me with anything: no drugs, no money, no guns. Nothing.'

If the DEA's version of events is true, then Dewanzel Singleton led an improbable double life. And if he's innocent, Singleton is the victim of an equally astonishing string of coincidences, betrayals and poor judgment."

Last week, on the second day of his trial, Singleton changed his plea to guilty. Here is the text of his plea agreement.

According to a spokesman for the Northern District of Illinois federal prosecutor’s office, sentencing will be in August. Singleton faces a minimum of eight years in prison. On March 20, Singleton’s co-defendant, LaKeith Cross, pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charges.

This document details the testimony and evidence prosecutors planned to use in the case. In addition to several recorded conversations between Singleton and convicted Chicago drug-lord and gang leader, a man named Carlos Darough was prepared to testify that he saw someone purchase nine ounces of crack cocaine from Singleton.

Singleton’s attorney did not return calls seeking comment on the plea agreement.

-Keegan Hamilton

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