It was a good week for former reputed Detroit drug dealer Ernest (Ghost) Proge, the alleged third-in-charge of the infamous Powell Brothers Gang, Motown’s biggest dope peddlers of the late 2000s. The 41-year old Proge had his federal narcotics and racketeering conviction thrown off the books by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals this week after the court ruled he was forced to go to trial three years ago with a lawyer he didn’t want and who had asked to be removed from the case himself prior to opening arguments.

The judge in the case – U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Murphy – denied Proge’s request deeming it a delay tactic. Per his in-court statements at the time, Proge felt his attorneys, Patricia Maceroni and Linda Bernard weren’t passionate and personally invested enough in heading his defense. Both Maceroni and Bernard entered motions to be removed from the case, however, Murphy only granted Bernard’s.

Proge will remain behind bars as he awaits a retrial. He was convicted alongside kingpins Carlos (Big Fifty) Powell and Eric (Little Fifty) Powell in 2014 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The Powell Gang’s then-reputed second-in-command, Dwayne (Weezy) Taylor is currently at-large and according to authorities took over from the Powells as the leader of the organization. Within the gang, Proge was often referred to as “Ghost” due to his light skin color compared the Powells and Taylor.

The two Powell brothers and Proge fled on the day of their sentencing and went on the run for a month. Carlos Powell, 43, and Proge were apprehended in St. Louis. Eric Powell, 42, was nabbed in Atlanta. They had all been indicted in 2012 and were free on bond.

Their downfall was precipitated by the bust of a drug contact of theirs named Ted Morawa in Arizona in February 2010. Morawa acted as a middleman for the Powell Gang in dealing with wholesale suppliers in Mexico and agreed to cooperate with the DEA, informing them of his relationship with the Detroit narcotics contingent.

The dominoes began falling shortly thereafter. On June 23, 2010, Proge and Eric Powell were stopped by police in Powell’s Chevy Silverado returning from Chicago and had 10 kilos of heroin confiscated from their possession. Then, in September, Proge was caught driving with 2.2 million dollars in cash stuffed in a number of Gucci suitcases. Hours earlier, DEA agents had watched as the Powell brothers loaded Proge’s Ford Flex with the bags of money. Proge led authorities on a high-speed chase, almost running over a policeman in an effort to avoid arrest.

Proge’s appeal was crafted by famous Motor City criminal defense attorney Deday Larene, a longtime mouthpiece of local mobsters, hoodlums and racketeers. The Ivy-League educated Larene did a year in prison in the mid-1990s for helping deceased Detroit mafia captain and eventual underboss Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone launder money from a sale of his former headquarters, the Home Juice Company.

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