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Men Charged After Big Durham Drug Bust Free on Bond

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DURHAM — Neighbors of the two men arrested on drugcharges, Durham police, and some court officials are shaking their headsin disbelief after the two were released from jail Saturdayjust 90 minutes after being charged in one of the city's largest heroinbusts.

Authorities complain that a magistrate set bond too low -- $10,000 each -- for Earl McDonald,44, and his 32-year-old nephew, Kenneth McDonald. The men were able to pay $1,500 each to a bailbondsman, 15 percent of the total bond, to gain release from jail.

By comparison, a man charged with simple possession of marijuana andhaving a broken headlight had bond set at $3,000 by a Durham magistrate.

Both men were charged with drug possession and trafficking. Police say they seized 91grams of heroin from a rental house at 410 Belmont Drive, a middle-class neighborhood ineastern Durham. The heroin, valued at $50,000 on the street, was prepackaged and amounted to about2,000 doses. Investigators called it the second largest heroin seizure in the city's history.

WRAL-TV5'sMark RobertsfoundLinwood McDonald at home Monday, and talked with him on the front porch.

"I don't care what they say, I'm not a bad guy," McDonald said. "I'lltell you what, some people will tel you I'm a nice friendly neighbor."

When asked if he was indeed dealing drugs, McDonald said it was nottrue.

Veteran Durham Magistrate Angel Green made the call on bond for theMcDonalds. While she could not be reached for comment, a spokesman for thedistrict court told Roberts that the system's 10 magistrates have heavyworkloads.

But State Attorney General Mike Easley said regardless of the reason,the end result only worsens the drug problem.

Because the two menface lengthy prison terms if convicted, police say, there is a good chancethat they might skip town. Both men did, however, make a first court appearance Monday in DurhamDistrict Court.