By joe gorman
A man who was involved in a 1996 Mafia assassination that some think was the beginning of the downfall of organized crime in the Mahoning Valley is awaiting trial after he was caught with a large amount of drugs that had a street value of about $1 million.
George Wilkins III, 40, of McClure Street in Struthers, is in the Mahoning County jail after city police arrested him on a traffic violation on State Street in August, and his case was directly presented to a grand jury.
He was indicted on two counts of possession of heroin, two counts of possession of cocaine and a single count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. He has an Oct. 23 pretrial date before Judge Maureen Sweeney in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Police Chief Tim Roddy said when Wilkins was stopped by police, they found three kilos of cocaine and a kilo and a half of heroin inside the car. He was stopped in conjunction with a drug investigation by the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, Roddy said.
Wilkins refused to get out of his car when he was stopped, and officers had to break a window, Roddy said.
“Once we broke the window, he got out,” Roddy said.
Wilkins was one of three men accused and sentenced for carrying out the June 3, 1996, slaying of 53-year-old Ernie Biondillo as he was driving to work on the East Side.
Later investigation showed that Wilkins and the other two men acted to carry out a plot by former Mob boss Lenny Strollo, who wanted Biondillo killed because they were organized-crime rivals.
Wilkins along with two other men, Cleveland Blair and Jeffrey Riddle, were sentenced to prison for their roles in the murder. Wilkins was sentenced to 13 years and four months, while Blair received a 15-year sentence, and Riddle received a sentence of life in prison.
Strollo was sentenced to almost 13 years in prison in 2004 after he agreed to cooperate with federal investigations of corruption in the Mahoning Valley.