Encouraged and inspired by the Obama White House’s push towards prison sentencing reform for non-violent offenders, former debonair Detroit drug chief Felix (The Cat) Walls is appealing to the President in hopes of a pardon when he walks out of office in a little more than a year from now. Known as a smooth gangster with an even disposition and penchant to preach peace before violence in his days running the streets, Walls was sentenced to 30 years behind bars in 1995 for his second felony narcotic-trafficking conviction and then after the original case was tossed by the federal appellate court convicted again and sentenced to life at a second trial in the early 2000s. Neither of his two federal felony convictions included any sort of violent behavior on his behalf.
Walls’ daughter Phyllis Bell has started a website and petition for her father to receive executive clemency consideration from Barak Obama who’s two terms as President of The United States will conclude in January 2017. This is her website.
The 73-year old Walls’ first drug conviction came in 1970 when he was busted for selling heroin, arrested in 1969 leaving a buy via a tip from an underling of his working for the government. His second conviction, the one he currently sits saddled with, is quite a bit more complicated.
While incarcerated in a federal correctional facility in Leavenworth, Kansas in the late 1970s (his first conviction, like his second, was overturned on appeal, but he was convicted at another subsequent trial), he met and befriended a con-artist and fellow Motor City drug dealer named Feodies (The Yellow Man) Shipp. Once they were released and back on the streets of Motown together in the 1980s, Walls and Shipp teamed up to build a robust wholesale cocaine-distribution business, transporting their narcotics from California to Michigan for almost a decade before they were befallen by a federal indictment in the early 1990s.
Walls opened up a series of flea markets across Metro Detroit and gobbled up real estate purchases across the country. Shipp, an elite scamster in the annals of the Michigan underworld, romanced and glad-handing his way to the highest level of the judicial system – twice marrying Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Baxter, wedding the sister of then- Michigan Supreme Court Judge Conrad Mallett, Jr. and claiming retired Wayne County Recorder’s Court Chief Judge Sam Gardner as his best friend.
All those contacts and connections couldn’t stop the indictment that was coming Shipp’s way in the summer of 1992. He was arrested by FBI agents in a suburban Detroit restaurant parking lot on July 18, 1992 and immediately agreed to cooperate, convincing the feds to give him a few days to get his affairs in order before they booked him and locked him up. Three days later, on the evening of July 21, Shipp was killed by local gangbanger Brandon Leatherwood and another unknown individual while in a luxury suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, under surveillance/under protection by members of the FBI and DEA. Leatherwood was found slain in Indianapolis that September.
When the case finally hit trial in 1994, Felix the Cat Walls was left to account for his and Shipp’s joint illegal activities over the past decade all alone and was found guilty by a jury in federal court. That conviction would be overturned tied to trial Judge Avern Cohen’s decision to not allow Walls’ attorney to call as a witness, Bernie Schrott, a wealthy Detroit businessman and then an alleged associate of the Giacalone brothers (“Tony Jack” & “Billy Jack”), the street bosses for the Italian mafia in
Walls accused Schrott of being his and Shipp’s money launderer, accusations Schrott has always sternly denied. At Walls’ second trial, Walls represented himself and got to call Schrott to the witness stand, but was still convicted anyway.
Boding in Walls’ favor in his quest for a pardon from the White House is that just last month President Obama released the nation’s longest serving federal non-violent offender, former Philadelphia mob associate George (Cowboy) Martorano, after Martorano served 32 years on a single drug-trafficking conviction, and announced that literally thousands of non-violent drug felons will be getting let free soon, too.