Man sen­tenced to drug court in heroin case

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

ELK­TON

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.

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