A Pasadena man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to tipping off a major cocaine dealer that his phone was being monitored after learning about the tap from a local court official.

Last June, Joshua Ferguson, 34, found out from a friend who worked at the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court that authorities were conducting a wiretap investigation, and the next day called one of the targets of the investigation to warn him.

The court employee, Sarah Harris, 23, had learned about the investigation when a Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer came in to file applications for other electronic surveillance in the case. The officer told her authorities were looking into a drug organization in the Pasadena area.

She has also pleaded guilty, and her lawyer declined to comment on the case.

On learning of the wiretaps, the drug dealer, Paul Cain, 48, immediately ditched his phone, as did another member of his crew. That temporarily foiled the investigation, according to Ferguson's plea agreement.

But in August 2013, federal authorities secured an indictment against Cain and a group of other people, and he pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to sell more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Ferguson's warnings had been intercepted on the phone line, forming the basis for charges later filed against him.

Nicholas J. Vitek, Ferguson's attorney said the case is an unfortunate one because his client's actions did not seem like those that would normally fall foul of federal law.

Cain has not yet been sentenced but his attorney Gerald C. Ruter said he has accepted responsibility in the conspiracy.

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