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Articles Posted in Federal Crimes

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courtroom-898931_1280-300x226A former high ranking official for the Maryland Governor has pleaded not-guilty to four federal charges of wire fraud and two charges of misappropriation.  The 52-year-old former chief of staff to the Governor is accused of various missteps including using funds belonging to the State of Maryland to make a charitable contribution to a museum where he was a member of the board of directors.  The funds came from the Maryland Environmental Service corporation, where the defendant served as executive director prior to taking a position with the governor’s office in Annapolis.  Perhaps the most egregious allegation was that the defendant caused the board at his former employer to approve paying him a full year’s salary, over $200k, upon leaving to take the job with the governor.  The defendant apparently told the board that the governor himself approved to so called severance package, though the governor has vigorously denied any such approval.  In total, the former chief of staff is facing up to 100 years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.  He will obviously not serve anywhere close to the maximum amount of jail if convicted, but the charges are certainly severe.  The government informed the Federal Judge in the Baltimore courthouse that trial would take two weeks to complete, though there is no indication on whether advanced plea negotiations are taking place.  Discovery is apparently voluminous, and the defense needs time to assess the case before advising the client.

The same defendant is also facing a 27-count criminal information in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County for various other state offense including misconduct in office and violations of Maryland’s wiretapping laws.  There are allegations that the defendant secretly recorded conversations with the Governor and other high ranking state officials.  The state case has not been set for trial yet, and has a status conference scheduled in the middle of December.  There will likely be a ton of evidence for the defense to sift through in order to properly evaluate the case, so we do not expect a swift resolution.  Both cases may end up in trial or the defense may be able to work out some sort of global plea agreement.  Right now it is simply too early to tell which direction these cases are headed, but the Blog will post a follow-up article as news becomes available.

Maryland has strict laws regarding the recording or intercepting of private conversations and telephone calls, and each violation is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  Even if another person uses or publishes a recording that has been intercepted unlawfully it could be a crime as long the publisher should have known a the recording was illegal.  Maryland is considered a two-party state when it comes to recording or intercepting conversations, which means both parties must be aware of the recording.  There are exceptions including when the police are conducting active investigations for a host of different crimes including murder, kidnapping, sex offenses, robbery, bribery, fraud, felony theft, firearms crimes and drug distribution.  In these cases the police may intercept wire, oral or electronic evidence in order to provide evidence of the crime.  The Maryland wiretapping law is codified under Title 10 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings section of the state laws, and not the criminal law section.  Subtitle 4 of the evidence part of this section covers wiretapping and electronic surveillance, and section 10-402 is the actual wiretapping law.

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graphics-882726_640-300x207The notorious Anne Arundel County arson case that has spanned more than 4 years has finally come to a close, as the defendant received his sentence late last week.  On Friday at the Baltimore City federal courthouse the 36-year-old defendant from Pasadena, Maryland was sentenced to 9 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay more than $500 thousand in restitution for his role in burning down a popular neighborhood bar.  The man was charged under 18 U.S. Code § 844 (i), which makes it a federal offense to maliciously damage or destroy any real property used in interstate or foreign commerce by fire or explosives.  The maximum penalty for this offense is up to 20 years in prison that includes a 5-year mandatory sentence.  If any person is injured, including a public officer such as a firefighter, the maximum penalty becomes 40 years with a 7-year mandatory term.  Unfortunately, a firefighter was actually injured while attempting to extinguish the blaze after he was thrown off a ladder by the force of a backdraft.

The Blog detailed the facts of this case in a previous post back in April when the plea was announced, so we won’t go over the entire case again.  The basic facts were that the defendant was charged with second-degree assault and theft for an incident that occurred at the bar 6 days before the fire.  He apparently returned to the bar in an attempt to destroy the surveillance equipment that he believed would incriminate him in the assault case, but ended up burning the entire bar down except for the cameras he sought to destroy.  So, not only was the assault captured on the surveillance, but he was also on video making Molotov cocktails and throwing them at the bar.  ATF trained K9s also located the presence of gasoline (a common accelerant used in incendiary devices) in the area where the defendant was standing on video.

The defendant ended up being found guilty of the assault in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County and was given a three-year suspended sentence.  The theft charge was nolle. prossed by the state as part of the plea agreement, although the defendant was found guilty of another unrelated theft that occurred a few weeks after the fire.  He will now serve upwards of 7.5 years behind bars before being released to state and federal probation.  Although the exact guideline range that the defendant was assigned is not discussed in the U.S. Attorney’s press release, the base offense level for malicious destruction of property by fire appears to be at least 24.  There were aggravating factors that elevated his guidelines including the fact that the fire was started in an attempt to conceal evidence of another offense, which adds two levels.  By our estimation it seems the defendant received a sentence at or near the top of the guidelines.

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concertina-wire-1031773_960_720-200x300Two former Maryland correctional officers recently pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy for their roles in smuggling contraband into the Chesapeake Detention Facility (CDF).   The pleas were entered in the Baltimore City federal courthouse where the pair will be sentenced in a few months.  CDF is the federal pre-trial detention facility where most federal defendants in Maryland who are awaiting trial.  It is a maximum-security facility across the street from Baltimore City Central Booking that houses approximately 500 inmates.  Although it is a federal facility that is controlled by the United States Marshals Service, the jail is run by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Community Supervision pursuant to a business contract.  The Maryland DPSCS runs all the state correctional facilities and is one of the largest agencies in the state.  The department currently boasts a workforce of approximately 12,000 and a budget of more than $1 billion per year.  Correctional officers at CDF are not federal employees but the jail is considered federal property.  Therefore, offenses committed on the grounds or within the jail are typically prosecuted in federal court.

The first plea took place last week and involved a 35-year-old female officer from Randallstown in Baltimore County.  According to the plea agreement she admitted that beginning in 2017 she smuggled contraband into CDF for multiple detainees, and met with outside facilitators to receive bribe payments and cellphones used to communicate with a specific inmate.  DPSCS investigators eventually caught on to the scheme and had federal agents execute a search warrant of the officer’s home in 2020 where they seized cash, marijuana, cell phones and notes from several CDF detainees.  The second plea took place this week for a 45-year-old officer from Baltimore.  This officer admitted to smuggling liquor into the facility for a detainee and receiving four payments totaling approximately two thousand dollars.  Pursuant to his plea, he also admitted to meeting an outside facilitator to pick up a bag containing suboxone strips and tobacco intended to be smuggled inside CDF the next day.  Unbeknownst to the officer, investigators had already caught on to his involvement with the smuggling operation and the contraband was interdicted by officers in the facility’s parking lot.  The defendant later admitted that the contents of the black bag were intended to be smuggled inside the facility.

Both of the defendants face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy, though they will serve far less than the maximum.  Both are likely first-time offenders, and based on the limited facts available from the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release their guideline ranges are estimated to be 24 to 30 months.  This is based on an offense score of 19 with a two-level reduction for entering into a plea agreement.  Unless the defendants have agreed to a binding “C” plea, the attorneys will likely argue for downward departures in an attempt to keep active incarceration under two years or possibly even home confinement.  The government takes public corruption cases extremely seriously, and offenses involving correctional employees are no exception.  While nobody was injured during the course of this scheme, the government will almost certainly make the argument that providing cell phones and other contraband to inmates endangered the lives of correctional officers and other inmates.  The defense lawyers must be prepared to address these arguments and to humanize their clients in the eyes of the Court.

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heroin3-300x169This week in the Baltimore City federal courthouse a 40-year-old Salisbury man pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin using the dark web.  According to facts presented in the plea agreement the defendant was an active interstate drug distributor on the infamous dark web, which is a part of the internet designed to conceal the identity and location of users through specialized software programs.  However, once an individual becomes a suspect in a criminal operation law enforcement officers can then access the web and pose as potential co-conspirators, or in this case buyers.  In this particular investigation it appears Homeland Security had an agent pose as a buyer, and other law enforcement agencies in and around Maryland joined forces to build a case.

Per the plea agreement the defendant admitted to distributing heroin throughout the country from his Salisbury apartment and storage unit on the dark web beginning in 2018.  During the summer of 2018 an undercover federal agent made two separate purchases of heroin from the defendant via the dark web using bitcoin.  The next day after each sale, law enforcement followed the defendant as he proceeded to mail packages from post offices in Salisbury and Ocean City.  The packages were seized and opened after search warrants were obtained, and both contained heroin.  The defendant continued to conduct heroin sales over the dark web, but his username was inactive for 3 months at the end of 2018.  It turned out that the defendant was incarcerated on unrelated charges in Worcester County during this time.  Less than a week after his release the defendant’s dark web profile again became active.  Following more package seizures and other incriminating evidence, law enforcement obtained a search warrant of the defendant’s home and storage unit in the fall of 2019.  Upon execution of the search warrant, police recovered approximately 77 grams of heroin, 41 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of ecstasy (MDMA), 33 grams of meth, 3 pounds of marijuana, cutting agents, scales, drug paraphernalia, $13,796 in cash and a .40 caliber handgun that was stolen from a Federal Air Marshal.  Law enforcement also recovered body armor, mailing materials and electronics such as a laptop and several phones.  A forensic search of one of the phones revealed a digital wallet containing over $100,000 in bitcoin.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the defendant entered into an agreement where the defendant will serve 5 years of incarceration if the federal judge accepts the plea at sentencing in February.  This agreement or “c plea” is akin to a binding ABA sentencing agreement in state court.  The defendant has a relatively minor record in Maryland that includes convictions for misdemeanor assault 2nd degree in Wicomico County and misdemeanor malicious destruction of property in Worcester County.  It is unclear whether he has prior convictions out of state.  The 2nd degree assault conviction would prohibit the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm, though it is unclear whether the defendant was charged with illegal firearm possession.  The plea agreement may have contemplated this factor, along with other facts and circumstances such as the amount of drugs recovered and the overall scale of the criminal operation.

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Gun-evidence-box-300x225This past week a 30-year-old Cecil County man was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for narcotics conspiracy and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  The case was originally prosecuted in the district and dircuit courts for Cecil County located in Elkton, but the feds decided to prosecute as part of their Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative, which was developed by the Justice Department in an effort to curb violent crime.  While we have posted numerous articles about federal gun and drug prosecutions in the Baltimore and D.C. Metro areas, this case is another reminder that the feds will pick up felony firearm cases in all Maryland jurisdictions.

According to facts presented in the plea agreement, the defendant’s vehicle was pulled over for speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign.  Upon initiating a traffic stop the Cecil County Sheriff’s deputy observed the car shake and determined that the driver and passenger had switched seats.  This obviously peaked the deputy’s suspicions, though it turned out there was much more in store for the deputy to deal with.  Upon asking the two men for their identification, the defendant grabbed the gear shift and told the driver to go.  The deputy was able to turn the vehicle off before it could move, but then the defendant took off on foot in an attempt to flee the scene.  While attempting to escape the defendant was observed throwing an object that appeared to be a firearm.  The defendant was eventually apprehended by police and found to be in possession of $1,802 in cash.  Police also recovered a loaded firearm in the area where the defendant fled and a small quantity of marijuana in the vehicle.  Finally, deputies recovered a small amount of crack cocaine in the back of the patrol car after the defendant was removed for a medical check.  The traffic stop, including the defendant fleeing with what appeared to be a firearm in his hand, was all captured on the patrol car’s dashboard camera.

The defendant was originally charged with 12 state criminal counts including illegal possession of a firearm, loaded handgun in vehicle, handgun on person, obstructing and hindering, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and CDS possession-not marijuana.  He was held without bond while the state case was pending most likely due to the firearm charge and the fact that he attempted to flee from police.  Judges often make the conclusion that a defendant is a flight risk and will be unlikely to appear as directed for court if he or she is accused of attempting to flee from police during the original crime.  Logically the two are quite different, but this argument often falls short in moving the needle toward release.  The case was transferred to circuit court but then dismissed after the feds picked it up a couple months later.  Considering the defendant faced a 5-year mandatory prison sentence without parole on the state level, he likely did not receive a much harsher sentence in federal court.  A defendant who is sentenced on a 5-year mandatory offense in Maryland state court for a crime such as felon/disqualified person in possession of a firearm may still be eligible to obtain credits for good behavior etc.  The defendant’s 52-month prison sentence is pretty close to what he would have served had he been convicted in state court.

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bullet-408636_640-300x200The traffic stop has long since been a powerful investigative tool for law enforcement.  Performing a traffic stop is perhaps the most common method for police officers to make contact with citizens.  While the large majority of traffic stops remain just about the alleged traffic infraction, police are trained to look for signs of criminal activity immediately upon pulling over a vehicle.  Sometimes suspects give police reason to escalate the situation by their words or actions, and other times the presence of criminal activity is based on something an officer sees or smells.  Of all the traffic stops that an officer conducts, there is one scenario where the driver almost always ends up in handcuffs, and it occurs when the driver is asleep behind the wheel.

Obviously, a sleeping driver’s vehicle is rarely moving when police make contact, but Maryland case law has made it clear that an officer who approaches a parked vehicle is still making a traffic stop for legal purposes.   A driver of a parked vehicle may have a legal argument if he or she is awake and not trespassing or committing some other obvious offense.  In the case of the sleeping driver however, there will never be an issue about whether the officer has a legal basis to make the stop.  Outside of being on private property, sleeping while in control of a motor vehicle is not only a sign that criminal activity may be afoot, but also presents a safety hazard that gives police the authority to investigate for welfare purposes.  Most drivers who are asleep behind the wheel will be asked to step out of the vehicle and investigated for signs of drug or alcohol intoxication.  A fair amount of DUI cases begin when an officer makes contact with a sleeping driver.  In some cases though the stop becomes much more than a DUI investigation.

Back in pre-Covid era of March of 2019 (which seems like a lifetime ago) Baltimore police encountered a man asleep behind the wheel in a Reisterstown Road parking lot.  Officers immediately observed signs of intoxication, including the usual slurred speech, and requested the man step out of the vehicle.  Apparently in the man’s intoxicated state he forgot that he had a firearm protruding from his waistband, and he was immediately arrested.  Police seized the the loaded handgun and subsequently performed a ballistics analysis to see if the firearm had been involved in any prior criminal conduct.  As it turns out, the same firearm was discharged in public back in 2017 in a crime that was never solved.  While nobody was injured, the incident was still part of an open investigation, and as a result Baltimore County police detectives ended up questioning the defendant about his knowledge of the Owings Mills shooting.  Unfortunately for the defendant, he did not assert his right to counsel and proceeded to admit that he was the person who discharged the firearm in public, after taking it during a drug transaction.  In exchange for his honesty the police proceed to charge the defendant with felony firearm possession, CDS possession of firearms and discharging a firearm in public.

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jaguar-1366978_960_720-300x169Last week in Baltimore City a 49-year-old man from Columbia, Maryland was sentenced to 7 years in federal prison for operating an international stolen car scheme.  Upon being released from prison the Howard County resident will be placed on three years of supervised release, as there is no parole in the federal correctional system.  According to the facts presented by the government, and pursuant to his plea agreement, the defendant admitted to participating in the theft and exportation of at least 17 automobiles.  The cars were either stolen from private owners or from rental agencies, and then shipped overseas after a sale was negotiated.  The defendant attempted to avoid detection from customs officials by creating fraudulent paperwork, which misrepresented the contents of shipping containers.  Most of the cars were shipped to Africa and likely left from the Port of Baltimore or transported to other ports by truck, though the government’s press release did not reveal the specifics.

Law enforcement caught on to the scheme pretty early in the process, and were conducting surveillance on the defendant as early as January of 2019.  During this first encounter, Howard County Police and Homeland Security approached the defendant and questioned him about the stolen vehicles, but the defendant denied any involvement and was not taken into custody immediately.  In fact, the defendant was not arrested until March of 2020, giving law enforcement ample time to build a strong case.  Search warrants were executed on the defendant’s cell phones that revealed pictures of the stolen vehicles as well as communications to and from shipping companies, and law enforcement also recovered numerous emails from the defendant’s fictitious identity that he used to facilitate the illegal transactions.  The defendant was ultimately arrested inside a rental vehicle that was rented through fraudulent means, and was overdue.  After being questioned by law enforcement the defendant eventually admitted to knowing that the vehicles he shipped were stolen, and that he misrepresented the contents of containers to the shipping companies he contracted.

The defendant entered a guilty plea to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit interstate foreign transport of motor vehicles and knowingly transporting stolen vehicles.  Transporting stolen vehicles under 18 U.S. Code § 2312 is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  Unlike a charge for transportation of stolen goods, securities or moneys under 18 U.S. Code § 2314, the government does not need to establish a minimum value of the vehicle(s) in order to prove its case.  A felony charge for interstate or international transportation of stolen goods requires a minimum value of $5k.  Regardless of whether value is an essential element of the offense, value of the scheme has a dramatic effect on the federal sentencing guidelines score, and the eventual sentence.  The estimated value of the cars in this particular scheme was over $850k, which means his sentencing guidelines increased by at least 14 levels based on the value of the scam alone.  There were likely other aggravating factors that the judge took into account, as a 7-year term of incarceration is a considerable sentence for a theft scheme with a total value of less than $1 million.  As we explain on the firm’s Maryland website, the value of any federal theft is a key factor in determining the likely outcome of a case, and an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can explain the impact of the sentencing guidelines in more detail.

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Gun-evidence-box-300x225Last week two Maryland men in their late 20s appeared in federal court on gun charges, and both will end up serving several years in prison.  The first case was heard last Thursday in the Greenbelt federal courthouse, where a 29-year-old man from Suitland pled guilty to two counts of felon in possession of a firearm.  The Prince George’s County man had been convicted of attempted distribution of cocaine in Washington D.C. back in 2014, which made him permanently ineligible to possess a firearm in all U.S. jurisdictions.  Unfortunately for the defendant, law enforcement subsequently found him in possession of a firearm on at least two recent occasions.  In June of 2020 Prince George’s County Police conducted a search of the defendant’s home pursuant to a warrant, and recovered a .40 caliber handgun, ammunition and CDS including buprenorphine and naloxone.  These prescription drugs are used to treat heroin and other opioid addictions, but can be used as illicit substances.  After being advised of his Miranda rights the defendant admitted that the firearm was in his possession.

The defendant was charged with possession with intent to distribute, and offenses related to false prescriptions.  He was also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, illegal possession of a regulated firearm and possession not marijuana. The possession with intent (PWID) charge was of the variety that comes with a 5-year maximum penalty rather than the 20-year penalty that narcotics cases carry.  Despite the severity of the charges, the defendant was released on bond one day after his arrest at a district court bail review.  The defendant’s lack of prior violent criminal history likely played a role in his release, as did his ties to Prince George’s County.  However, less than 4 months after his release he was arrested again on gun charges.  This time the arrest took place in Washington D.C., and was the result of a traffic stop that turned into a foot chase.  After the defendant was pulled over for running a stop sign, police discovered that he had an active Maryland circuit court arrest warrant stemming from the PG County gun and drug case.  The U.S. Attorney’s press release does not specify why the defendant had the warrant, but it was likely for violating a condition of his pre-trial release or for missing court.  After the defendant was confronted about the warrant, he took off on foot in attempt to fell from police.  Officers then caught the defendant and located a loaded .45 caliber handgun in his jacket pocket.  The feds stepped in not long after his arrest on the D.C. case, and charged both cases together in the Greenbelt federal court.  The PG circuit court case was later dismissed along with the D.C. case, and now the defendant faces up to 10-years in prison on each count when he is sentenced in November of this year.

The second case occurred just one day later in the Baltimore City federal courthouse, where a 28-year-old Baltimore man was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release for one count of felon in possession of a firearm.  This defendant was originally arrested on state charges after being arrested at the end of 2019.  According to the plea, Baltimore Police officers observed the defendant conduct a drug transaction and then gave chase.  The defendant fled on his bicycle and eventually on foot, but officers caught up with him and found a loaded 9 mm handgun as well as cocaine and fentanyl packaged for sale.  He was charged with possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime, illegal possession of a firearm, PWID narcotics and other offenses, though the state case was dismissed after the feds decided to prosecute.  The defendant was prohibited from possessing guns due to felony convictions from 2015 that involved narcotics distribution.

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money-943782_960_720-300x225This past week in the Baltimore federal courthouse a 26-year-old defendant pleaded guilty for his involvement in three separate robberies in the Baltimore metro area.  The first robbery took place in October of 2019 at a Baltimore City pharmacy.  In this particular incident the government presented evidence that the defendant and his co-conspirator entered the pharmacy just as it opened in the morning, and while donning masks, gloves and glasses brandished a black revolver and demanded cash from the safe.  The clerk gave the men over $1,600 and then was bound with zip ties while the pair fled in the victim’s vehicle.

One month later the two defendants committed a second robbery in Anne Arundel County.  This robbery took place at a retail store, where the defendants entered right at closing time.  Once again, the pair were clad in masks and gloves and carrying handguns.  After taking over $3,000 from the store and striking a victim in the head, the defendants fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle.  The final robbery was committed in December of 2019 in Baltimore County restaurant in Parkville.  The defendants entered the restaurant at 7 a.m. just as the shift manager and another coworker were opening for the day, and once again the defendants brandished a firearm and demanded money from the restaurant safe.  After stealing close to $4,000 from the safe and binding the victims with zip ties the defendants fled in one of the victim’s vehicles.

One day after the third and final robbery Baltimore County Police detectives located the stolen vehicle and surreptitiously outfitted it with a GPS tracker.  Two days later police followed the vehicle as it moved and eventually attempted to effectuate a traffic stop.  The defendant abandoned the vehicle and then fled on foot, but was then apprehended a short time later on Harford Road.  After being arrested the defendant agreed to speak to police, and claimed he found the stolen vehicle that day and was merely taking it for a joy ride.  Law enforcement officers obviously were not convinced and ended up charging him with robbery, assault in the first degree, motor vehicle taking and felony theft.  The case was forwarded to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County with additional charges for use of a firearm in a crime of violence and CDS drug charges.  In November of 2020 the case was nolle prossed after the feds decided to pick it up.  While the U.S. Attorney’s press release does not mention the specifics, the feds were likely alerted after local law enforcement discovered the defendant’s involvement in the two other robberies.  A search warrant was executed on the defendant’s phone, and law enforcement found pictures of large amounts of cash on the same day as the first robbery.  Cell phone tracking data also showed the defendant was in the area of the first two robberies on the dates in question.

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coke4-300x250This week two Baltimore men received federal prison sentences for narcotics distribution, further serving as reminders that the feds are not shy about prosecuting drug cases in Baltimore City.  Neither case seemed especially complex, and both defendants appeared to keep their illegal operations local, but nonetheless the cases ended up in federal court.  Unlike many crimes, drug offenses do not need to be committed on federal property or across state lines in order to be prosecuted in federal court.  The United States Code has strict controlled substance laws, and the feds can choose to prosecute anyone involved with suspected drug dealing.  Normally in Maryland, street level cases are prosecuted in state court by the local State’s Attorney’s Office, but it’s quite a different story in Baltimore City.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutes a large number of drug and gun cases that would normally be filed in state court, and the two from this week are a classic example.  On July 13, a 41-year-old man from Baltimore was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine.  This particular defendant was ultimately jammed up for selling cocaine to multiple confidential informants in a particular area of East Baltimore.  The defendant’s DTO or drug trafficking organization was not particularly large but nonetheless caught the attention of the ATF, and ultimately wound up in federal court.  As part of the plea the defendant admitted to conspiracy to distribute more than 28 grams of cocaine, and also admitted to possessing firearms.

Just one day after the sentence was handed down for the 41-year-old defendant, another Baltimore man learned he would be spending the next 4 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.  This particular defendant was being investigated by a joint task force led by the DEA, who joined with Baltimore City Police in gathering evidence to support the defendant’s involvement with a street level drug trafficking organization.  Law enforcement officers were ultimately able to secure a search warrant for the defendant’s residence, and recovered 147 grams of a heroin fentanyl mixture, cutting agents and a press containing cocaine.  According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, based on the evidence obtained it was reasonable to conclude that the defendant and his co-conspirators distributed more than to distribute more than 3.5 kilograms of cocaine, as well as heroin and fentanyl.  The 5-year sentence may seem low compared to state sentences for narcotics distribution, but keep in mind that there is no parole in the federal justice system.  Defendants typically serve more than 75 percent of their actual sentences compared to state defendants who are eligible for parole on non-violent offenses after serving 25 percent of their time.  There were a total of 25 defendants indicted in this particular investigation, and 22 have pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial.  In March of this year the defendant’s alleged source of supply was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy.

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