Triple Crown Publications is the first name in street lit, the booming genre of raw, gritty, urban fiction sold everywhere from street corners to small African American bookstores to Barnes and Noble. Vickie Stringer, an ex-con and former drug dealer is the founder of Triple Crown. The publishing house she started to self-publish her semiautobiographical novel that she wrote in prison, Let That Be The Reason, has grown dramatically and become a major presence in the publishing industry as has Vickie Stringer herself. Publishers Weekly declared her “the reigning Queen of urban fiction” and Newsweek ran a story on the Essence Bestselling author in June 2004 titled “It’s Gangsta Lit.” Vickie Stringer has come along way since her release from the feds.
Triple Crown went international in April 2005 when her novels were translated and released in Tokyo, Japan. She is also a successful literary agent who is an inspiration and motivator to aspiring authors and self-publishers. Her first book, Let That Be The Reason, sold over 100,000 copies and her company has moved up to a million books, over 35 titles by 26 authors. “People in the streets buy these books like its crack,” Vickie Stringer said. She gives her readers the real, those stories on the gangsta tip, tales filled with sex, drugs and violence. But how real is Vickie keeping it? Maybe too real some critics of the genre might say but Vickie is doing Vickie, fuck the consequences of her actions. She follows the maxim, “Do You.” To the ultimate extreme.
Still in her 30’s, after having been a millionaire in the drug trade, a federal prisoner and a millionaire again in the space of a decade Vickie has plenty to smile about. One Detroit Metro New writer wrote, “She is beautiful with soft apple-butter skin, inquisitive brown eyes and a coy flirtatiousness that speaks volumes about her confidence. Most people can’t stop smiling when they meet Vickie Stringer because she can’t stop smiling herself.” Getting out of that life sentence and doing only five years in the feds and then making millions off some gangsta shit when you violated every gangsta code in the book will leave you smiling. Like you fooled the world. Like you have some big secret, but we’re here to expose that secret. There’s a back story to this story. Stringer grew up on Detroit’s eastside, the youngest in a struggling middle-class family. Or so she says but how much struggling are you doing if your dad is an engineer and your mother works as a special ed teacher for the Detroit Public Schools system? According to those that knew her she was prim and proper, a churchgoing girl who went to Ohio State University and fell in love with a street hustler. “The first time I laid eyes on Chino, it was a wrap.” She said. “I loved him. I wanted to be with the bad boys.” Vickie started hustling too with her boyfriend’s gang, the Triple Crown Posse, in the early 90’s but when she fell out with Chino she didn’t fall out of the game. With the contacts she made through her boyfriend Stringer continued to sell drugs and became the Columbus connection for an interstate cocaine and heroin trafficking operation that moved six million worth of narcotics a month from New York to Ohio. Her Dominican supplier shipped her 20 to 30 kilos at a time using a fleet of special vans configured with hidden stash boxes to transport the drugs safely and without detection.
In 1994, one of Vickie’s couriers got busted and snitched her out. Agents found 26 grand in marked bills the informant had paid Stringer. They also found $320,404 in cash, 22 pounds of coke and one pound heroin. “I was so addicted to the game.” Vickie said and on September 16, 1994 police and federal agents intent on smashing the local drug trade arrested stringer. They accused her of running one of the city’s largest drug pipelines and supplying the notorious Short North Posse and its associated gangs who terrorized Columbus with violence, murder and mayhem.
Stringer was branded the cocaine queen of Columbus and her face was plastered on the nightly news. She faced a maximum penalty of life in prison. Police said her ring smuggled large amounts of coke to Columbus from New York over a three year period ending in September 1994. “I think to reach the heights that I reached in the drug game, to be the single largest drug dealer in Columbus history, even to this day, I think that all added to the shock value of my arrest,” Vickie said. From the jump Stringer and Ramon Diaz, another member of her ring began giving law enforcement officers details of their suppliers network. “Stringers info was found to be accurate and was corroborated by other confidential sources and independent investigations. Every weekend Stringer, Diaz and Andres Adon of New York counted between $500,000 and $1 million.” Law enforcement officials said.
Stringer, 27 at the time, pleaded guilty to one count each of money laundering and conspiracy. Prosecutors agreed to a lesser sentence in exchange for her testimony against her co-defendants, including her brother. Testimony during her plea hearing revealed that her ring supplied cocaine to several Columbus area gangs. Stringers testimony revealed that Adon’s people in New York stuffed 20 kilo loads of coke into vans with secret compartments. The vans would be driven to Columbus, Cleveland and Boston. Her cooperation enabled the government to get indictments against Guillermo “Geejoe” Troncoso, Joe “Turtle” Bryant, Felix Bermudez. Nelson Valdez, Victor Mirenda and her connect Andres Adon, among others. There were also twelve indictments in her case resulting in eight convictions. Everyone pleaded guilty though so Stringer avoided the stand, but who knows what she said behind closed doors. And in the end Vickie as ringleader and facing life was sentenced to five years in the feds due to her snitching.
Vickie Stringer went from choirgirl to shotcaller to snitch. But in prison Vickie decided to write her story and penned her first novel that would go on to become a bestseller and trendsetter in the genre, Let That Be The Reason. “I was so angry sitting in prison all those years. I had put so much shame and disgrace on my family name. I told myself your legacy has to be greater than this,” Vickie said. “My life has made me who I am and that definitely has had an effect on my writing. I think that is one of the reasons why so many of our readers enjoy our stories. Because they know and have felt many of the same feelings and emotions that are carried through the lives of the characters in our stories.” And federal prisoner #63752-061 learned a lot too. “On the streets and in life, sometime the rules are written differently for men and woman and that has an effect on how you retell a story.” Especially when you want to leave out the snitching part.
With her book written Vickie left prison with a goal to get a book deal but she found it rough. “Triple Crown was started out of necessity,” Vickie said. “When I couldn’t get a book deal to save my life. In order for my first novels, Let That Be The Reason, to have life, I had to self-publish. Triple Crown was designed to shelter my first novel.” She said that more than 90 percent of her book is based on fact. “I tell my son all the time, the same story that madeus sad now pays our bills.” But she forgot to tell us about her snitching that made other peoples families sad. In her book she outlines the lessons of the streets- Rule #1: Get Paid, Rule #2: Don’t trust nobody, not even yourself, Rule #3: Stay Free. And everybody knows that the dope game leads to two end- death or jail, so what kind of hustlers creed is that? And Vickie took the rules she invented to heart. Fuck the code, forget about death before dishonor. Vickie Stringer did everything possible to stay free, violating the rules of the drug game that she upholds in her novels.
Out of prison armed with a dream Vickie printed up her book and sold it on street corners in the hood. And the book sold and sold and sold. “Because the books have an element of realness that our readers can relate to, a realness that you can’t find in other types of books.” Vickie said. She found other aspiring street lit authors, like Kwan and Nikki Turner and put out their books too. Triple Crown became a major player in the burgeoning urban lit industry.
“When I was a hustler I used to put packages in shorties hands and I thought I was giving them a chance but really I was dealing them death.” Vickie said. “There’s people that I gave packages to that are doing life in prison, people who wound up getting murdered trying to sell drugs I gave them. So now, when I’m able to give someone a book deal, I’m giving them life. God gave me a second chance, so I use that opportunity to give others a second chance too.” But God didn’t give Vickie a second chance, the feds did and only because she told on so many people, like the ones she referred to above, the ones with the life sentences. “I never found that any of the book companies that I’ve done business with were wary of my past. All they care about is dollars.” Vickie said and that is all too true. In the same respect when you get busted by the feds they don’t care about what kind of slimeball you are they only care about what convictions and cases you can bring them.
Today Vickie lives in an upscale development in Columbus while a lot of hustlers from Columbus, New York and beyond are in federal penitentiaries due to her testimony. It is what it is but its clear Vickie Stringer is perpetrating a fraud. Isn’t that the case when the Queen of Street Lit turns out to be a rat. But Vickie is still writing gangsta stories and putting out books that showcase the life she betrayed. “Dirty Red showcases my growth as a writer,” Vickie said. “It is my third fiction novel about a half-black Puerto Rican young woman, Dirty Red, as she’s called by many gets hers by any means necessary. I will begin writing Still Dirty shortly.” And for sure readers will buy it, but it is rumored among industry insiders that Vickie Stringer pulled a Teri Woods and didn’t even write Dirty Red. So not only is she a snitch but like Teri Woods she is the Milli Vinilli of the Urban Lit world.