Buffalo, NY- The federal government says there is reason to believe a former leader of the Afro Dogs Motorcycle Club in Buffalo, at the center of a major drug investigation, isn't really dead.
John C. Smith pleaded guilty in April to drug and weapons charges stemming from his role in a cocaine ring. He was scheduled for sentencing last week. However, he died in June. His attorney told 2 On Your Side he sent a death certificate to the U.S. Attorney's Office. "There must be some odd mix of paranoia with the U.S. Attorney's Office, my client is dead," he said.
Federal prosecutors possibly could have Smith's body dug up from the grave to verify that it is really him.
Smith died of a heart attack in June after leaving church. He was wearing an ankle bracelet. When it was detached at the hospital, his lawyer says the federal probation office was immediately notified.
Despite having a copy of Smith's death certificate, prosecutors say they want more details surrounding Smith's death and burial.
Court documents indicate "the government has a copy of the death certificate however (we have) concern with the accuracy of the details surrounding the manner of death and burial and requests additional time to investigate including possibly exhuming the body for verification."
Published death notices indicate Smith's funeral was held at Redeeming Fire and Fellowship Church in Buffalo. "He died in a hospital. There was 6 or 7 days between the time he died and the time he was interred," Terranova said.
Federal Judge Richard Arcara has granted prosecutors more time to investigate and possibly exhume Smith's body for verification.
The next court appearance in this case is scheduled in October.
Smith's family according to Terranova is "outraged."
Smith was among a group of defendants charged in a cocaine ring. The other defendants were Dale Lockwood, brother of Buffalo's Deputy Police Commissioner, Ricky M. Allen Sr., former head of the Buffalo Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization, Dewey Taylor, Terrance Hall, Jonnie Gibson, William Szymanski, Emanuel Bell, Van Miller Jr. Anthony Burley, Frank Owens and Jeffery Achatz.