An informant sat down with federal investigators in September 2017 to help them untangle a drug trafficking enterprise allegedly operated by Teddia Caldwell, a 43-year-old Gary business owner and husband of Gary City Councilwoman Linda Barnes-Caldwell.
During the interview, the informant dropped a bombshell: Caldwell sometimes received information about police investigations from Barnes-Caldwell and her son, Morris Smoot, a Cedar Lake patrolman, records state.
The informant's statements to federal investigators were revealed in a motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court by Caldwell, who could face the death penalty for his alleged role in the murders of Akeem Oliver, 29, of Gary, and Kevin Hood, 43, of Gary.
Caldwell argued in the motion, which he filed on his own behalf, his indictment should be dismissed because federal prosecutors violated his constitutional rights. Caldwell filed with the motion FBI records that detailed a confidential informant's conversations with investigators about the murders of Oliver and Hood.
Barnes-Caldwell previously told The Times she was estranged from her husband. She did not respond Friday to a request for comment. Smoot could not be reached for comment.
Hood, a father of five children, was gunned down during an attempted robbery in July 28, 2017, outside Hood's business, Shine On Car Wash, located in the area of 15th Avenue and Massachusetts Street.
The FBI records reveal Caldwell also owned a car washing business, though the business is not identified. Caldwell is not named as the registered owner of any companies in online state records.
The records also allege Hood and Caldwell were not just business rivals, but also rivals in drug trafficking.
The informant told investigators in an interview Nov. 1, 2017, Caldwell allegedly learned from his drug supplier's cousin that Hood was selling “bricks,” or kilograms, of narcotics from his car wash business in Gary.
The informant said Devontae Martin, 24, and his friends began to watch Hood, possibly to rob him. On the day of Hood's murder, Caldwell allegedly had the informant pick him up in a vehicle and drive him to a gas station near Hood's business. The men allegedly watched from the gas station as Martin, armed with a rifle, chased Hood from his business. After a brief struggle over the rifle, a different man fatally shot Hood with a handgun, the informant said.
The informant also met with investigators Sept. 8, 2017, to discuss Oliver's murder Oct. 8, 2016, in an alley south of 20th Avenue and Virginia Street in Gary.
The informant told police Oliver was murdered because “the streets were talking” that Oliver was snitching to police. Caldwell and Devonte “Lil Bro” Hodge, 26, were discussing the rumors at Caldwell's business when Hodge told Caldwell he would handle it, according to the witness.
The informant said Hodge and Oliver sold dope together out of the same house at the time. Within a week of the men's conversation, Hodge and his cousin, Andrew Ford, shot Oliver while he was in a vehicle with his brother, according to court records.
Caldwell allegedly told Hodge, “Good, appreciate it,” when he learned about the murder, but the informant said he was not certain if Caldwell paid Hodge for the killing.
Ford, 24, was killed in a Dec. 8 shootout involving Hodge in Gary. Hodge is charged in Lake Criminal Court with attempted murder in connection to that altercation.
The informant told investigators Caldwell and Hodge believed Oliver was snitching about the murder of a man in one of Caldwell's houses.
The informant said the information somehow got back to Caldwell from the “streets.” He then said Caldwell sometimes received information from his wife, Linda Barnes-Caldwell, and Smoot.
Smoot is identified in the records as a Hebron police officer, but Hebron Police Chief Joshua Noel said Friday that Smoot has not worked for the department since 2013. Cedar Lake Police Chief David Coulson confirmed Friday Smoot was hired five years ago as patrolman for the Cedar Lake Police Department.
Neither chief said he was aware of the witness's claims regarding Smoot.
Noel said he had known Smoot since 2010.
“I know Mr. Smoot, and, personally, I think he's a pretty good guy,” he said.
Spokespeople for the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice said Friday they could not neither confirm nor deny if there were ongoing investigations involving Smoot or Barnes-Caldwell.
Investigators noted in the records they believed that man killed in one of Caldwell's houses was 19-year-old Isaiah Edwards, whose burned body was found June 30, 2016, in a grassy area in Gary's Midtown section.
No one has been charged in the murder, though the informant told investigators he believed Hodge murdered Edwards, the records state.
Caldwell is charged with eight other defendants in the violent drug trafficking conspiracy case.
The other defendants are Victor Young, 44; Hodge; Martin; Taquan "Boonie" Clarke, 24; Cornell "Knuckles" Allen, 39; Terry Brown, 32; Paronica Bonds, 34; and Demetrius "Detroit" Brinkley, 31.
Four of the defendants — Caldwell, Hodge, Martin and Clarke — are eligible for the death penalty because of their alleged roles in the murders of Hood or Oliver.