William “Too Short ” Edwards, born in Chicago Illinois, and raised in the Robert Taylor Homes projects, is a man who has seen it all. From the violence in the high rise projects as a youth, to his status in the Growth and Development Organization , ( formerly known as Gangster Disciples), and his close relationship with Larry Hoover. Prosecutors say he was Hoover’s eyes and ears, and it’s fact that he found the recording device on one of his many visits that ultimately brought about the $100 million dollar indictment along with CCE charges that got him a life sentence.
In a prison library he sat down with Robert D. Williams and The Block Papers to tell his story, which is the story of a man who has seen it all.
Growing up In the Robert Taylor projects
Built in 1961-1962 and consisting of 28 high rise towers, 4,321 apartments, and numerous city blocks The Robert Taylor Homes were a ghetto and hell within itself. Whoever came up with the idea to put all of the city’s poor in high rises must not have been in their right mind.
After construction TheRobert Taylor Homes were quickly overrun by gangs that claimed their territory, set up look out stations, took over vacant apartments, turned them into drug dens, rippped out metal detectors and the wiring to the intercoms to stop residents from screening visitors, or being able to commuinicate with anyone down at the entrance.
The warring gangs controlled entire high rises and whole blocks. Residents were harassed at building entrances and solicited drugs, and drug addicts and homeless littered the darkened halls. Police rarely came even if called. And with lookouts set up it was easy for dealers and gang members to vanish quickly inside of the projects and disappear into one of the high rises.
But it was still home to the people that lived there.
99 percent of the residents were black, and half of the adults that resided inside of the Robert Taylor Homes were dirt poor and lived on under $5,000 a year. National reports considered The Robert Taylor Homes to be the worse slum area in the United States, and it became known to some of its residents as a “public aid penitentiary”, because everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong which only makes sense since 20,000 of the city’s poor were stuffed into high rise ghettos.
Too Short grew up in this concrete jungle. He grew up like most kids liking sports and wanting to just be a kid but circumstances grew him faster than usual.
His building was a GD building, so of course he became one himself. “Back in those days the structure of the organization wasn’t strong like today and everyone was basically doing their own thing.” Too Short says. “Then one of the Folks named Coal Black got released from the joint and started organizing the GD’s all across the low end. During his bit he had started to build with some of the other folks from the other projects like Ida B Wells, The Ickes, and State Way Gardens. He organized the GD’s and brought structure after receiving instructions from Larry Hoover himself in the joint.”
Then one day Too Short met Coal Black. Coal Black was real close to Larry Hoover. But then Coal Black caught a case (it’s said that he was framed by the cops).He was sentenced to prison, but before he left Larry Hoover gave him one last request, and that was to find someone to fill his shoes while he served his sentence.
He found Too Short and Crusher and they started visiting Larry Hoover.
Visiting the Chief Behind the wall
Too Short and Hoover grew close quickly. “Hoover liked my youth. Loved to see how the young members of the organization operated.” Too Short says. “He was fascinated by the young members. He even had me bring him some gym shoes since he loved basketball so much.”
Too Short and Crusher visited Larry Hoover for years. They were called “The Kids ” by Hoover. Prosecutors allege Too Short held a high ranking position within the organization and later would say that he was the eyes, ears, and confidant of Larry Hoover. They also say he was responsible for taking orders from the prison visiting room out to the streets and making sure the chief’s words were followed down to the smallest detail.
During the visits drug talk went on amongst other topics, and the feds knew that visitation was how GD business was being handled. They knew they had to take a different approach.
The Feds placed recording devices inside of visitor’s name tags, and when Too Short, Crusher, and other members of the organization came and visit, and talked “Nation Business “, it was all recorded.
These recordings came to later be known as the “Vienna Tapes”.
During one visit Too Short went to the bathroom, took a piss, but when he went to wash his hands he noticed wires sticking out of his visitor’s name tag. He took it off and pulled at the wires; a tiny microphone came out. Stunned he returned to the visiting area and approached the table where Larry Hoover, Crusher, and Adrien was but didn’t take his seat, just stood there.
“What you looking like you seen a ghost for boy?” He says Hoover asked him. “I didn’t say nothing, just tossed the microphone on the table. Then he tells us he knew the feds had been watching and listening.” Too Short says.
That was the last visit. After that Larry Hoover was moved from the minimum security prison and indictments started falling. But nobody expected the indictment to allege the drug amounts or the cash amount it did.
The Vienna Tapes & The Indictment
Federal prosecutors allege that Too Short was responsible for $100,000,000 worth of crack being sold. But during the entire investigation only money that could be attributed to him was when he had been pulled over and just over $6,000 was found in a van he was driving and the cash was confiscated.
But the key to the prosecution’s case was the Tapes.
The prosecutors knew that to prove conspiracy they had to prove that Larry Hoover, Too Short, Crusher and others agreed to sale drugs together. They got that from the tapes and talks about the “one day a week ” program.
And to prove CCE all they needed to prove was that they were working together and involved in organized crime. Once proven they could easily tie in the extortion charges since the case was based on “one day a week ” and people had no choice but to pay.
The Vienna Tapes were the prosecution’s only evidence, and what the entirety of the conspiracy and CCE charges were based on. The indictment claims that through the implementation of the “One Day A Week” drug distribution program the organization, and Larry Hoover most importantly, made $100 million.
The Feds came up with $100,000,000 like this-
They estimated the GD count at 30,000 members and then multiplied each of those 30,000 members by $3,300.
The Feds jumped the gun and hyped up the indictment. They used the tapes in court which put the jurors right in the visiting room and right in in the middle of the conversation. This means the tapes cannot lie. In court they didn’t prove the drug quantity of $100 million worth of crack. The talk on the tapes were obviously talks about heroin and not crack since Larry Hoover and Too Short always spoke about grams and not kilos which is more heroin talk than cocaine talk.
- On October 30th, 1993, on the first day of recordings on the Vienna Tapes Too Short and Larry Hoover were heard discussing a program called one day a week. Hoover instructed from people one day a week…
- On November 14th, 1993, Too Short and Crusher visited Hoover and to establish conspiracy prosecutors pointed out on the tapes that Hoover asked how much money “we” had made.
Definitions to help you understand the case better.
Conspiracy = A secret plan and agreement to do something.
Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE Statute or The Kingpin Statute) is a United States federal law that targets large-scale drug traffickers who are responsible for long-term and elaborate drug conspiracies. Unlike the RICO Act, which covers a wide range of organized crime enterprises, the CCE statute covers only major narcotics organizations.
Extortion = obtaining money, property, or services from a person or institution through force or intimidation.
- On November 14th, after that visit cops followed Too Short, pulled him over and took $6,489 from his van.
He laid low for a couple weeks but then on December 11th, 1993, Too Short peeled open the recording device and discovered the wires.
Prosecutors argued at trial that, “what is especially devastating for Too Short is that it’s his own voice on the tapes, and they were relaxed because they thought they couldn’t be wiretapped in a prison visiting room.”
They say Too Short, on Hoover’s orders, mixed and cut the dope, orchestrated the passing out of testers or free drugs to the junkies, and that he was Hoover’s eyes and ears on the streets of Chicago, and responsible for how the entire operation and conspiracy evolved.
Too Short and others on the case have been asking these questions for years:
- Where is the money?
- Where are the drugs?
- Where is the property?.
Especially when there are laws that state drug amounts must be named in the indictment and court is required to determine the type of drug.
Too Short has been locked up since 1997, and given a life sentence for conversations he had in a prison visiting room. He is fighting for his freedom through the courts and has written the president for clemency but was denied. Support his cause and help bring him home. How much time is enough?And life for what?
William “Too Short ” Edwards spoke with Robert D. Williams on his relationship with Larry Hoover, family, Growth and Development, and he shares his views on the rising crime rate and more.
This is what he had to say.
TBP: How you holding up behind the wall?
TS: I come from an environment where you gotta be strong to survive, so this prison life is nothing for me to do. That’s due to the struggles I had to overcome while living in The Robert Taylor Homes.
TBP: What lead you to become closer than most with Larry Hoover?
TS: His strength and hunger to obtain and heighten his education. The man has served 47 years in state and federal prison. Continuously with no break and 22 of it has been underground at ADX, in Florence Colorado.
TBP: The organization started many years ago and members are everywhere. Every state and federal prison, in all types of jobs and walks of life, cops, guards, even in the military. How does that make you feel?
TS: My position on the organization today is; so many of my Brothers are misled, uneducated, and don’t know what we as a whole stand for. So many us are stuck in the old ways of gang banging. Got the 360 mentality when it should be the 720 mentality when they shout GD. I accept all our youth and try to educate them on the real side of Growth and Development. We about building stronger family ties, education, and betterment for every member.
TBP: Violent crime, murders, shootings, and robberies, are on the rise nation wide, tell us why you feel that is.
TS: It’s terrible how our youth out there killing for no reason. Mostly innocent people at that. See, the government locked up all the real leaders, our voices, and this turned the streets into a every man for himself type of environment and the people in the streets got a kill or be killed type of mind frame. Our youth done been misled, and abandoned. They are forced to raise themselves. But it’s some good dudes out there that can help but are afraid the government will kill them or snatch them up and give them life in prison like they did us.
TBP: what about your city,Chicago? Lately it’s been turnt up with 66 shooting victims some weekends.
TS: Chicago is a beautiful and strong city believe it or not. When the right people come together it can bring about peace. But right now I don’t think it can happen.
TBP: Why you feel like that?
TS: Because the city of Chicago is a war zone. The youth on pills and liquor so they got the I rather catch a body than get this money attitude.
TBP: You’ve been denied clemency while some have been granted the chance to give back some time and go home, how do you feel about dudes that get a second chance only to go back to the streets and do the same thing that got them locked up from jump?
TS: Good question. I think they’re foolish, or either working for the government. Foolish because no matter if you do 6 months away from your family it’s too much. It’s time lost and time you can’t get back. A snitch would just give up somebody and stay with his or her family.
TBP: Even though serving a life sentence and being down for 20 plus years you still smile daily and walk with your head up. What motivates you to keep going?
TS: Larry Hoover of course due to his inner strength and his love for his people. He done served 47 years and I ain’t never heard him complain. Dude is solid as a rock! President Obama inspired me too. His family structure is what it’s about. That foundation. And I’m saying this even after his administration denied my clemency. My number one hero though would be my best friend and father may he Rest In Peace. And my kids of course.
TBP: How many you got?
TS: 9, but my son Triston died so I got 8 alive with me. 4 boys and 4 girls.
TBP: You tutor for GED classes too don’t you?
TS: Yeah, that’s what I do. I educate and I stand strong on the membership because education is in the literature and one of our laws.
TBP: Why did you do you sit down with The Block Papers and do this interview?
TS: I’m hoping that if I can just touch one soul and bring about a positive change in their life then I will have some happiness in this darkness, I think it’ll be different from the feeling I get when I help people get their GED. The last group we tested, their results came back and all 7 dudes we tested achieved a major accomplishment by getting their GED. Plus I love that one of my brothers Robert D. Williams is doing what he planned, and that it’s legit and positive. That’s Growth and Development. Shout out to The Block Papers. Love.
Photos of Too Short
Officially Certified By The Block Papers ‼️💯👌⛽️
To contact Too Short write him a letter:
William Edwards #00212-748
Go to bop.gov to check on his current location since they change often.
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