Members of the Abyssinian Baptist Church packed a Manhattan courtroom yesterday, hoping to post $50,000 in church money to bail out an accused prep-schooler-turned-gun-moll -- even though the renowned congregation had been the biggest crusaders against her drug ring.I'm guessing the law-abiding folks in Rangel's district aren't so fond of crack dealers and gun-runners, but who cares about them?
But as Afrika Owes sobbed from the defense table, a Manhattan judge refused to set her free despite her contingent of church members, family and supporters -- including embattled Rep. Charles Rangel.
The congressman had been so eager to weigh in in favor of the bond, he was told three times by court officers to sit back down in his front-row seat.
Not so fast, said Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin. There is no case law supporting the use of tax-exempt church funds for bail, he noted, and the parishioners who contributed these funds presumably had no idea they would be used to free an accused drug-gang conspirator.
Owes reportedly was caught on recorded phone calls agreeing to ferry guns for her accused drug-kingpin boyfriend.
"The witness against the defendant is the defendant -- the defendant's own words," the judge noted.
As for the church posting bail, McLaughlin said, "I'm familiar with corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. I'm in favor of them. But I'm also in favor of defendants returning to court for trial."
The judge set March 21 as a date for both parties to return to court with prepared arguments on the bail matter.
Owes, who lived with her mom, Karen, in Harlem, had attended the prestigious Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts on a full scholarship, and was enrolled in Manhattan's selective Millennium High School when she was tossed in Rikers on gun-running charges.
"Make sure, head shots only; head shots only," boyfriend and co-defendant Jaquan Layne had been taped telling the then-16-year-old Owes in a phone call from jail -- allegedly giving her advice as she prepared to ferry three firearms to Layne's brother Malik, who is also charged.
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