Man sentenced to drug court in heroin case
— A man accused of selling heroin outside an Elkton outreach center for homeless people received a suspended six-year sentence Wednesday, after accepting a plea deal that will allow him to participate in the Cecil County Adult Drug Court program.
Cecil County Circuit Court Judge Brenda A. Sexton imposed the suspended sentence on Kevin Mitchell, 39, of the 400 block of North Street of Elkton, after he pleaded guilty to possession of heroin.
That offense typically carries a maximum four-year sentence. Mitchell, however, faced an enhanced penalty
of eight years in prison because he has a previous drug conviction, albeit one dating back about 10 years.
Sexton ordered Mitchell to serve three years of supervised probation, with one of the numerous conditions that he successfully complete adult drug court, which he is scheduled to begin on April 29.
Cecil County Adult Drug Court is a two-year program aimed at treating qualified defendants who have been convicted of non-violent crimes that they committed, in part, because of their addiction or alcoholism.
In addition to subjecting themselves to random drug testing and frequent courtroom sessions, drug court defendants must undergo counseling and treatment through the Cecil County Health Department and meet specified goals, such as earning their GED and securing employment.
A drug court defendant can face penalties, including weekend stays in jail or longer, for the presence of drugs in a tested urine sample, failure to attend a meeting or courtroom session and other violations.
“I won’t mess up,” Mitchell vowed, addressing the judge moments before sentencing.
Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin B. Urick had recommended a suspended eightyear sentence and three years of supervised probation, specifically asking that Mitchell be placed in adult drug court and noting that Mitchell already had been deemed eligible to participate.
The judge opted to follow the recommendation made by Mitchell’s assistant public defender, Thomas Klenk, who had asked that the preposed suspended sentence be reduced from eight years to six years.
As part of the plea deal, Urick dismissed the more serious remaining charge, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, without factoring Mitchell’s enhanced penalty status.
“He has always contested the distribution part of this case. He is not a seller,” Klenk told the judge, explaining that his client was a heroin addict at the time of the incident and that, as such, Mitchell likely shared the drug with people around him.
Mitchell stood accused of making a hand-to-hand heroin sale outside the Paris Foundation in the 200 block of South Bridge Street about 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 25 — an alleged transaction witnessed by nearby Elkton Police Department officers conducting a covert operation, police reported.
That informant told investigators that Mitchell was in possession of a “large amount of heroin,” police added.
Investigators reported that they saw Mitchell meet with several people in the Paris Foundation’s front parking lot and conduct a hand-tohand transaction.
After Mitchell walked away from the group several minutes later, a member of EPD’s Street Crimes Unit detained Mitchell and took him to the agency’s headquarters on Railroad Avenue, according to police.
During a search, investigators confiscated 18 plastic baggies — each containing 1 gram of heroin — and approximately 50 empty ziplock bags commonly used for packaging the drug, court records show.
The Paris Foundation, which relies heavily on volunteers and donations, provides homeless people in the greater Elkton area with meals, shelter, clothing and other necessities, as well as emotional and spiritual support.