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Prosecutor Karla-Dee Clark had a recording for Charles Daum. Prosecutors and defense attorneys exchange files all the time, but this was different.

The tape, a recording of a jailhouse phone call from Daum’s client, would change Daum’s life—if she could play it for him before it was too late.

After trying to reach Daum over the December 2008 holiday break, Clark found him in the hallway of the District’s federal courthouse a day before they were set to start a second drug trial for Daum’s client, Delante White.

“We kidnapping him if we do not win,” Delante told his associates on the taped phone call.

The “him” on the recording was Daum, then a 62-year-old veteran defense attorney. He felt dizzy.

“We’re taking this as a threat against you,” Clark said.

In the world of the court-appointed defense bar, where sometimes desperate attorneys mingle with even more desperate defendants, the idea that a legal relationship would approach a violent end isn’t unheard of. But this was different.

In the phone call, White wasn’t mad because of Daum’s fee (just $12,000 for both trials), or because he hadn’t asked the right questions at their last trial, when Daum earned his client a mistrial on a felony crack cocaine charge. Instead, Delante was mad because he didn’t think Daum would succeed in fabricating evidence.

Standing in front of Judge Paul L. Friedman after hearing the recording, Daum promised that his ethics were sound. Despite the kidnapping threat, Daum said he would keep fighting for Delante for as long as he could.

The tape reminded Friedman of another bizarre incident from months earlier, during the first trial. Evelyn Clowney, White’s grandmother and a key witness for the prosecution, disappeared the night before her turn on the witness stand. Asked to account for Clowney, Delante’s mother, Cheryl White, told Friedman that Clowney had taken a gambling trip to Atlantic City—at Daum’s request.

The judge didn’t believe her. But now, with this recording, the idea that Daum would hide a witness didn’t seem quite so implausible.

What the judge and prosecutors didn’t know—but were beginning to suspect—was that Daum’s criminal involvement went far beyond tampering with testimony by sending an elderly woman to Atlantic City. Nearly a year before his scheme started to unravel, Daum had laid out an illegal plan to win Delante’s trial. The plan had thrust the respected lawyer into a fraught deal with Delante, his fractured family, and a mother-daughter pair of investigators.

But at that hearing in Jan. 2009, Daum told the judge he hadn’t done anything wrong.

“I’m just an ordinary practitioner that stumbles in here from time to time,” Daum said, tears rolling down his face.

Clark had never seen a lawyer act like this in court. But then Daum left, and did something even stranger: He went to see the man who he had just heard talk about kidnapping him.

“You knew it was all a show,” Daum told his imprisoned client, according to prosecutors. “It was a show for the government.”

In February 2008, 11 months before he would be caught contemplating a kidnapping, Delante White had a customer waiting to get high. Delante sat on his grandmother’s porch, wielding a razor to break off pieces of a crack rock, while a longtime FBI informant watched nearby.

Dealing drugs hadn’t brought Delante much success. He was 23 and still lived with his grandmother in a small apartment near Catholic University. Six years earlier, police busted Delante, driving a flashy gold Chrysler 300, in a simple buy-bust cocaine operation. Already in 2008, police had pulled him over and found two joints in his ashtray.

Drugs meant trouble for White—a one-time hospital valet and a performer in a go-go band called the Skunk Boyz—but he didn’t have much else to rely on. As a child, Delante had been, in one judge’s words, “raised by wolves.” His youngest brother, Jerome, had been sold for crack as a child, according to court documents. (Jerome would later rap that their mother, substance-abusing Cheryl White, was a “true hustler.”)

Christopher, the middle White brother and perhaps the most stable member of the White family, moved to North Carolina the year before to avoid his drug-dealing, drug-addled relations.

Delante did have charisma—and a fashion sense to match. When a friend teased him for wearing “skinny” jeans, Delante reproved him: “They’re called Euro fit.” Christopher’s girlfriend remembered that Delante loved coordinating his outfits in Prada or Gucci.

Drugs weren’t Delante’s only source of income. His charm had won over Candice Robertson, a comparatively well-off security guard who adored him. Still, White’s family members suspected that Delante was only with Candice for her money.

On the porch, White made the drug exchange. Days later, when Metropolitan Police Department officers following the informant’s tip burst into his grandmother’s apartment, Delante was gone. But they found cocaine just about everywhere—in an old Adidas shoebox, in a closet, and even in residue on a flip-flop. The biggest score came in Delante’s bedroom, atop a pile of clothes. Inside a dust bag meant to hold Gucci boots, detectives found 124 grams of cocaine.

A month after the raid, a grand jury indicted Delante on one count of intending to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base. Then he hired Daum.

Months later, Daum called Jerome and Delante’s girlfriend to a meeting at the H Street NE–area townhouse that doubled as his office. That’s when, according to them both, he laid out a plan to create a string of bogus stories leading jurors away from conviction.

Jerome, concerned about getting in more trouble than he was used to, asked if Daum’s plan was legal.

“Come on, Jerome,” Daum said. “I’m a lawyer.”

Being a court-appointed lawyer in the District meant that Daum belonged to the “Fifth Streeters”—a set of occasionally brilliant, generally hapless defense attorneys.

Tell a Fifth Streeter that he cooked evidence, and you might get cursed out, or worse. Say a lot of other bad things about his kind, though, and there’s a good chance he’ll concede it.

The Fifth Streeters earned a reputation in the pre–Home Rule District as the cut-rate defense attorneys whose offices clustered around D.C. Superior Court on 5th Street NW, though they were just as likely to operate out of a briefcase, hitting up indigent defendants for a few bucks’ worth of legal representation.

One of their set’s most prominent members earned a reputation for posing just the right way at trial for the sketch artists—and for scoring nearly half a million dollars (adjusted for inflation) in government court fees one year. Another lawyer sold cocaine in a restaurant across from the court, and murdered an ex-cop who was going to testify against him.

A poor person facing criminal charges might be represented by a Harvard or Georgetown Law grad from the Public Defender Service, an organization equipped to take on the federal prosecutors who handle even minor charges in the District. Or he could get a Fifth Streeter, whose income usually depended on taking as many cases he could.

By the time Daum joined the D.C. Bar in 1978, the Fifth Streeters were looking to garner respect. They went on strike for better treatment and organized a black-tie gala to rival their uptown colleagues’ affairs—a plan threatened when some of the “baggy pants lawyers” griped that they didn’t want to buy tuxedos. Sometimes, change wasn’t optional—trawling for clients in and around Superior Court was banned in 1981.

The reformers couldn’t improve everything. In 1986, New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd spent an afternoon monitoring the naps and card games in the Superior Court lawyer’s lounge and declared it “the lowest rung on the legal ladder.”

These were people a world away from downtown lawyers, with their corporate clients and firm names dotted with ampersands. While a white-shoe lawyer might dine out an expense account, Fifth Streeters needed hepatitis shots for their trips to jail. Some Fifth Streeters were talented litigators, but others were just too drunk or too stubborn for a big firm.

Kenneth Robinson, a defense attorney and occasional country music singer who enjoyed his own time as Superior Court’s top defense attorney during the crack years, dedicated a song on his country album to the D.C. Bar’s sad sacks. The song, “Here’s to the 5th Street Lawyer,” includes a lyric about wealthier attorneys sneering at their court-appointed counterparts.

“It’s a pretty funny song about how they all like to drink,” Robinson says.

The theatrics and grind of criminal defense create competition, with lawyers happy to describe who earned their status as legends, and which murder or drug trial gave them the title. The man or woman on top usually only lasted a few years, until the lawyer of the moment burns out—or, in Robinson’s case, gets shot in the chest. (The attack was believed to stem from a dispute with a disgruntled client. Ever the defense attorney, Robinson refused to cooperate with detectives.)

Despite putting in decades circulating between courtrooms and lock-ups, Daum never reigned as the top lawyer at Superior or U.S. District Court. Instead, he was a respected jobber, known for putting a little dramatic flair into his courtroom arguments. His colleagues—lawyers conscious of their predecessors’ reputation for run-down heels and fraying pants cuffs—note that Daum dressed just fine.

“Charles had a certain flash,” says defense attorney Jon Norris, whom courthouse observers peg as the reigning defense attorney at Superior Court.

Even if he hadn’t been a star, Daum had his fair share of the D.C. area’s most sensational criminal cases. He defended a court clerk who had been bribed to get bondsmen off the hook for bail jumpers. He represented a man who, tired of his infant daughter, stuffed a sock into her mouth, covered her face with a backwards hoodie, and tossed her in a closet to die.

He defended a deadbeat dad from Maryland who fled to Texas to marry into a Dallas-style clan, then was dragged back to stand in court with Charles Daum at his side. He defended a man who, upon discovering his wife was cheating on him, shot her dead at Union Station while delighted tourists watched, thinking it was a scene from a new movie.

Daum tried to save more than one client with developments that stunned prosecutors. After one client was arrested and charged with shooting a pastor dead at a gas station, Daum found new witnesses whose testimony forced prosecutors to drop the charges.

The night before a witness testified against another Daum client in a separate murder case, Daum and an investigator visited the witness in jail, a trip the prosecutor in the case says never should have happened.

The witness—key to the U.S. Attorney’s case—took the stand the next day, but he didn’t stay there for long.

“I ain’t going to testify against them,” he declared, preferring to take a contempt charge over whatever Daum and the investigator told him the night before. Daum’s client was convicted anyway.

Daum’s defendants often got what they paid for—which wasn’t very much. Since the 1990s, Daum racked up punishments from bar discipline boards in Maryland, Virginia, and the District. In one disastrous 2003 case, Daum calculated that a defendant busted for selling cocaine could receive roughly 12 years in prison. In fact, the maximum sentence was more than twice that, at 27 years. Daum’s client wasn’t allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

Only Daum knows why he decided to start bending rules to defend his clients. Putting aside notions of integrity or responsibility to the court, Daum’s scheme in the Delante White case had an obvious problem: it meant giving his client, facing a long prison term, a valuable nugget of information to trade with prosecutors.

Daum had some legal and financial troubles of his own. In 2007, he was accused of avoiding process servers from both an angry real estate company and his estranged wife, who wanted to serve him divorce papers over allegations that he had cheated on her. But the $12,000 he would have made for the two Delante cases wouldn’t exactly be a windfall. Recently, Daum’s lawyer claims that he suffers from a mental illness that goes unnamed in public court records.

Whatever the reason that Daum started to turn from a criminal lawyer to what a Breaking Bad character memorably called a “criminal lawyer,” Jerome and Robertson believed that Delante’s lawyer could get him acquitted with this plan. One reason for their faith: Daum told them that he had done something similar before.

It would make a great family portrait, except for the cocaine.

In the picture, Cheryl White plays with the cat that her son Christopher bought her as a Valentine’s Day present. Christopher took the picture, the scene framed by holiday balloons. In the background, though, was a less savory scene: Jerome with a razor, cutting crack rock and bagging it up for the weekend.

Daum called the tableau “an American tragedy.” But in reality, almost none of it actually happened the way it appeared.

The first lie in the picture: Christopher wouldn’t have given his difficult, frequently drunk mother a Valentine’s Day gift. If Christopher ever bought his mother a present, his girlfriend would speculate later, it’d be a beer.

Another lie: Christopher wasn’t in the District around Valentine’s Day 2008. Behind the camera instead was court-appointed investigator Iman Pasha and her mother and investigator partner Daa’iyah Pasha, according to most descriptions of the scene. The Pashas, longtime Daum associates, allegedly showed up to the photo shoot with the cat, balloons, and drug-dealing paraphernalia meant to mimic the evidence seized in Delante’s room. (Daa’iyah’s involvement at the scene is still disputed.)

Another lie: The cocaine wasn’t really cocaine. Instead, Jerome used the razor to push around shavings from a bar of Ivory soap, swapped in after he failed to make convincing “crack” with only baking soda.

Still one more lie: The picture wasn’t taken in February. The “Valentine’s Day” scene was actually staged days before Delante’s first trial in Sept. 2008. The elaborately arranged photo was crucial to Daum’s strategy.

Delante wasn’t the only client Daum would break the law to save, according to witnesses and former accomplices. When a cocaine dealer was busted in 2004 with $20,000 in his car, ready to buy a new shipment from Texas, Daum came up with another plan, according to the drug dealer’s then-girlfriend. To explain the money, Daum allegedly helped her get fake documents to claim the money was actually needed for a bogus moving business.

At trial, the girlfriend even had a backstory for the the bogus moving company’s name, “On the Move.” She testified that she rejected her boyfriend’s original name idea, “On Da Move,” because it sounded too urban. (Unable to introduce much of the evidence, Daum’s client is now serving a 25-year sentence in a Kentucky prison, where he complains that Daum “fucked me over in a major way.”)

Daum allegedly provided a similar service for a man accused of committing a murder in broad daylight in 2008. After repeatedly threatening the government’s best witness in the case, Daum’s client brought the witness to Daum’s office, where Daum allegedly suggested that the witness should recant his statement to police. When it came time for trial, the witness never showed up. (The alleged murderer eventually pleaded to a lesser obstruction of justice charge.)

Before Delante’s trial, Daum enlisted a disparate crew of helping hands, all apparently willing to break the law for his client: the Pasha investigative duo, Delante’s girlfriend Candice Robertson, and brothers Jerome and Christopher.

For Robertson, who became Daum’s most committed helper, risking felony obstruction of justice charges could mean losing everything—but it also could mean keeping Delante out of prison. Despite Robertson’s work, Daum “treated her like a dog,” Clark would say later.

She shelled out much of her savings paying for various parts of Daum’s plan, from travel to perjured testimony. In a phone call to Delante, she complained that only one person involved in the scheme—a friend of his who was never charged—helped him for free.

Robertson’s dedication to the plan becomes more notable because so many other people involved in the scheme thought that she was being used. Christopher later said that his brother dated Robertson for her money. Asked if Robertson was Delante’s girlfriend, Christopher’s own girlfriend replied, “She thinks she is.”

“If he could have gotten out of jail, he would not have been with her,” Clark said later.

Robertson became a key player in another part of Daum’s plan: explaining why Jerome, who had none of his brother’s clotheshorse tendencies, supposedly stored his cocaine supply in a Gucci shoe bag. Daum told her to buy an identical pair of Gucci boots online—but, with a Johnnie Cochran flair, he told her to order a different size than the boots seized in the raid to throw off the prosecution.

When Robertson screwed that order up, Daum berated her. That sent her on an overnight bus trip to New York City to buy a new pair. Then she called Daum’s office.

“I went to New York to get the stuff that he want me to get,” Robertson told Daum’s secretary, who seemed to know exactly what she meant.

Once Robertson bought the Gucci boots, she sent Jerome and his friends to a nightclub to pay for a photograph while he posed in the boots. The club picture would be one more piece of evidence that Jerome was just the kind of guy to keep his crack cocaine in a Gucci bag.

Robertson made an imperfect accomplice. She stumbled over codewords in recorded jail phone calls, forcing Delante to explain them to her in exchanges prosecutors would later call “kind of hilarious.” And, in her many calls with Delante in jail, she would frequently connect a third party—meaning that the new person on the call didn’t realize they were being recorded. Delante’s 1,300 calls from jail would eventually fill 92 CDs.

Daum’s plan hinged on making jurors believe that Delante didn’t stay enough at his grandmother’s house to keep almost $20,000 worth of cocaine there. He couldn’t pin the stash on her, though: The day of the raid, she had asked a neighbor for $5 to buy lunch—not exactly the profile of a drug kingpin.

Daum settled on Jerome, 21, for his fall guy. Jerome, who had been caught in 2007 with cocaine hidden inside a Coca-Cola can and once cheerfully told a judge he was only interested in getting high and having sex, seemed like a much more believable candidate to be the real drug dealer in the White family.

As Daum laid out his plan to photograph Jerome with the fake crack cocaine, Jerome got suspicious. Wouldn’t this just focus the U.S. Attorney’s Office on him instead?

Daum explained to Jerome that he couldn’t be charged with his brother’s crime because of double jeopardy. As Jerome’s lawyer Gary Sidell would note later, that would be an absurd idea to anyone who has taken a high school government course—exactly the kind of education Jerome didn’t have.

While Daum’s plan relied on perjury from multiple friends of the White family on the brothers’ addresses, his most valuable witness at trial might have been Christopher White, the one brother to escape his family’s past. He didn’t have the criminal record that his brothers and mother did. Before Delante’s trial, Robertson convinced him to let her pay for a trip to the District. There he met with Daum, who once again assured one of Delante’s brothers to trust his lawyer.

Christopher, who had struggled to escape his family’s orbit, now couldn’t resist helping the brother who was more like a father to him.

“Bozo’s in the background, still bagging up,” Daum said to the jury, gesturing to a blown-up version of the Valentine’s Day picture of Jerome and his razor. “Money to be made, weekend’s coming.”

The “discovery” of the Jerome crack photograph, complete with what Clark would later call “that infamous cat,” was a sensation at Delante’s trial for people who weren’t in on the ruse. When Daum handed the photo to Joseph Bias, one of his assistants, Daum described it as a “very fortunate” discovery by the White family. Finally, Bias thought, they could prove one of their clients was innocent, not just help another crook get acquitted by excluding evidence.

“It’s a candid shot that was never intended to find its way [into] a federal courthouse,” Daum declared in court.

The bogus evidence that Delante lived in Maryland was contradicted multiple times by the other evidence, from probation records that instead placed Jerome in Maryland to testimony from police officers who remembered talking about football with Delante outside his grandmother’s apartment. But Robertson and Christopher stuck to the plan, testifying that Jerome, not Delante, lived in their grandmother’s apartment.

As the trial came to a close, Clark asked the judge to let her instruct the jury on the legal concept of joint possession. In other words, Jerome’s control of the crack didn’t mean that Delante didn’t have it too.

Despite the success of his cooked evidence, Daum seemed stressed at trial. On the fifth day of the nine-day trial, he forgot his prescription glasses at home, forcing him to wear prescription sunglasses instead.

“I’m coiled just a bit tight,” he told the judge.

Clark had her suspicions about the evidence. For all the jurors knew, she told them, the crack picture had been taken just a few days before trial (which, in fact, it had been).

“Isn’t this the oddest photograph?” she said.

Daum still had one big problem: Evelyn Clowney, Delante’s grandmother. Searching her apartment, police found a rusty gun in her purse. Since then, she’d been regularly getting in arguments with Cheryl and Robertson as the scheme progressed. If Delante’s own grandmother testified that he lived with her, Daum’s entire plot could have been ruined.

“She was a feisty old lady,” says former Department of Justice prosecutor Robert Spelke.

With Clowney’s testimony looming, Daum met with his clerk and Delante’s family members in his office after one of the trial days. The sentiment from Daum, law clerk Bias testified, was that Delante’s situation would improve if Clowney never made it to court.

Still, Clowney didn’t take the hint, even after Delante and Robertson asked her to leave town or get a doctor’s note to avoid testifying. No one in the scheme knew whether Clowney—who, for medical reasons, had her legs amputated below the knees between the raid and the trial—would really get out of town.

One night at Clowney’s apartment, Jerome answered the phone to hear Clark, who was calling to make sure Clowney would testify.

“Grandma, you got to go,” he told Clowney. Christopher pulled Clowney out of her wheelchair and bundled her into a friend’s car. She stayed at a friend’s house in the District—not in Atlantic City, as Cheryl White would tell the judge when Clowney didn’t appear at trial—until U.S. Marshals could track her down and make her testify.

In the end, Clowney didn’t sway Delante’s jury far enough one way or the other. Jurors deadlocked, with all but one of them voting that Delante was guilty. Friedman urged the sides to settle before a new trial.

“There were a lot of surprises that maybe the government wasn’t ready for,” he told Daum. “But the next time around, they won’t be surprised.”

In May 2009, Tiffany Archer, a court-funded investigator who worked with the Pashas, stood in the D.C. Jail legal meeting room. Archer was waiting to meet Delante, but she wasn’t the only one.

As Delante talked to Archer, Charles Daum stood up from a meeting with another client and walked over.

“What’s up, Charles?” Archer recalls Delante saying. But Daum was all business—he talked to Delante about phone calls, and urged him to take a plea deal on the original cocaine charges.

It had been four months since Daum wept in court and protested his innocence. The kidnapping threat’s discovery recording had set off a series of events that postponed the second trial indefinitely. An independent defense attorney appointed to consider the relationship between Daum and Delante decided that there was no way Daum could keep representing him.

Prosecutors were closing in. After the entire U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District recused itself, the case bounced to Spelke, in the Department of Justice’s narcotics division. Spelke was stunned by the accusations made against Daum. As a young prosecutor, Spelke had gone to Superior Court to watch Daum work juries.

“I would never have thought he would do something like that,” Spelke says.

Daum and the Pashas scrambled. According to Archer, who earned an immunity deal for her cooperation, they allegedly arranged to send a Western Union transfer to potential prosecution witnesses.

Daum also paid a visit to Jerome, who at this point was in jail as well. Jerome’s lawyer calls that visit “a clear, over the line violation.” The trips only helped incriminate Daum more.

Within two months of the threat hearing, at least one person involved in the case was talking to a grand jury. By April 2009, Robertson and the other two White brothers had been arrested and charged for their roles in the obstruction plan. They would go on to cut sealed plea agreements and start cooperating with the prosecution against Daum and the Pashas.

And then… nothing. The investigation went on for two years without indictments, with Daum aware that he was being investigated but still able to work in court. Daum’s new clients had to tell judges that they knew he was under investigation, so word of the case spread quickly in the legal world. In one awkward exchange, Judge Friedman received an update on the case’s slow status from prosecutor Clark early in the day, only to see Daum on an unrelated hearing later the same day.

“He was walking around with a cloud over his head,” Norris, another defense attorney, says.

Robertson, her savings exhausted by her machinations on Delante’s behalf but unable to get a new job or keep her old one because of the sealed charges against her, started living in her car. When Clark learned in court a year after the cooperators cut a plea deal that the case was still floating around DOJ, she complained about how long the investigation was taking the government.

“I’m absolutely outraged,” Clark said.

Defense attorneys involved in the case speculated that, after disastrous other high-profile cases—including one that ended when a prosecutor in the Sen. Ted Stevens case committed suicide—prosecutors were reluctant to move too early on Daum.

Things didn’t go much better for the White brothers. Now pegged with a reputation for cooperating with authorities, Delante survived a stabbing. In another incident in a prisoner transport, according to his attorney, Jerome came face-to-face with Mark Pray—a Barry Farm drug gang leader accused of ordering the murder of a federal witness. Daum had represented Pray in a case years earlier.

“The guy was saying, ‘You’re testifying against Daum,’” Sidell says.

Pray, currently serving a life sentence, didn’t respond to questions about the alleged threat.

A snitch reputation still follows Jerome, who mentions it in his new life as rapper “Jose Blanco.”

“7th Street niggas got the story fucked up,” he raps. “I didn’t do no snitching, nigga, better look up.”

Finally, on April 12, 2011, a grand jury indicted Daum and the Pashas on conspiracy charges. The charging document was a popular read with defense attorneys, who worried that their own clients could now cut favorable deals with prosecutors in exchange for testifying against them. Puzzling over the indictment, one legal blogger noted that it was like Daum “joined the gang.”

“When [the Charles Daum indictment] came out, I know there were lawyers that said, ‘Christ Almighty, am I next?’” says Bernie Grimm, who represented Daa’iyah Pasha. “Are they going to take the word of some thug against me and prosecute me?”

Both grandmother Clowney and mother Cheryl White had died by 2012, but several other people who witnessed aspects of the scheme testified against Daum. Later, Jerome called his brother from Northern Neck Regional Jail in Virginia, a distant location chosen so he could avoid potential retaliation in D.C. jail. He promised his brother he would be “more higher, more flyer” when he got out.

“Daum know what the fuck he did,” Jerome said.

Robertson, Jerome, and Christopher were eventually sentenced to probation and time served. Daum’s attempt to help him might have been the best thing to happen to Delante in the entire case—instead of facing decades in jail on the cocaine charge, he was able to plead guilty and get 33 months in prison with credit for time time served.

These days, Jerome complains that Daum “threw us all under the bus.”

“He lied, man, he lied,” he says.

Daum and the Pashas pleaded not guilty, opting for a bench trial with a judge. Spelke suspects Daum declined to plead guilty because of a provision that prosecutors wanted to include in his potential plea deal, but he won’t say what it was.

Judge Gladys Kessler ruled against the defendants, giving Daa’iyah three months in jail and Iman probation (She was eventually sentenced to a year in prison after her probation was revoked.) In August, an appeals court ruled that Daa’iyah deserves a new trial because prosecutors originally withheld a statement from Cheryl’s boyfriend that suggested an unidentified man, instead of Daa’iyah, was at the Valentine’s Day photo shoot.

Daum, who still has two years left on his 60-month sentence from Kessler, didn’t respond to letters sent to his low-security prison in New Jersey.

That means there’s no good answer for why a man whose wife called him a “quiet and gentle man” and whose grandchildren called him “Poppy” would risk his freedom and reputation for Delante White.

$12,000 for two trials, a prosecutor noted at sentencing, was not exactly “a king’s ransom.” Or maybe, as Daum’s own attorney suggested, Daum went too far in an attempt to save Delante from years in prison on a drug charge.

But maybe it’s simpler than that: Attorneys like to win, especially in the District, where the courthouse can hum when a defense attorney is on a streak.

“When I was winning, the phone wouldn’t stop,” says Grimm, Daa’iyah Pasha’s former attorney. “You go on a losing streak, you think there’s something wrong with the phone.”