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News Maryland Harford County Aberdeen Havre De Grace

Harford residents arrested in drug sweep that nets more than 1,400 grams of cocaine

The area's drug task force seized more than a kilogram of cocaine and arrested four Harford County residents in a wiretap investigation that included one Havre de Grace man charged as a drug kingpin.

Jeremiah Michael Finley, 37, of the 600 block of Franklin Street in Havre de Grace, was the original target of the investigation, which ended with the execution of "a number of search warrants" Tuesday morning, assistant state's attorney Dair Pillai said.

The search netted 823 grams of cocaine from Finley, as well as four handguns and two long guns, Pillai told Harford County District Court Judge Victor Butanis during a bail review for all four suspects Wednesday.

More than 600 grams of cocaine were seized from the home of Eric Lavell Skipwith, 39, in the 400 block of Northfields Court in Edgewood, Pillai said.

Although he was not charged as a kingpin, Pillai said Skipwith is above Finley in the drug hierarchy and is Finley's organizer or supplier.

"That is very much the opposite" of the impression given by the charges, she said.

The street value of Skipwith's cocaine supply alone could be $30,000 to $50,000, according to estimates provided after Butanis asked about the value.

Finley has no prior criminal record except a drunk-driving charge, his attorney, James Otte, told the judge.

Finley's mother told the judge she had never heard of her son doing anything like this and noted she is a hairstylist who hears from a lot of people.

"We are very respected in our community," she said. "I never heard of a single thing and I can't imagine all these charges being correct."

She said Finley's three children need him to come home and added that other people must be involved – "bigger people" than Finley.

Pillai said although it is true Finley does not have a criminal past, he was just in Florida and has plans to travel later this month to Colorado, where he has family and friends, making him a flight risk.

"He probably started his criminal career with quite a bang, so to speak," she said.

Otte assured the court Finley would not leave the state if the judge set a bail. Butanis ultimately set his bail at $750,000.

Skipwith's wife was also emotional as she asked Butanis to release Skipwith to his two children, who are 13 and 10 years old.

Skipwith, who was charged with possessing a large amount of drugs, has lived in Edgewood for 10 years and runs a business called "CDS," which he explained are his wife's initials.

His attorney, Tony Garcia, admitted Skipwith "has a substantial record" but explained he is not a flight risk.

His wife did say they recently traveled to Miami and Buffalo, N.Y., to attend Ravens football games.

Skipwith has a robbery conviction and four drunk-driving offenses, Pillai said.

Butanis asked Skipwith if he was related to William Skipwith Jr., who pleaded guilty to threatening the judge's life in 2004. Skipwith and his attorney assured him there was no relation.

Butanis ordered him held on $800,000 bail.

Two brothers, Charles Glenn Wade Jr., 39, and Edward C. Wade, 36, of the 1500 block of Union Road in Aberdeen, were also accused of buying cocaine from Finley, Pillai said.

Investigators seized three bags of cocaine, eight bags of heroin, a scale, marijuana and Percocet pills from them, Pillai said, adding they are believed to be sellers as well as users of the drugs.

Charles Wade has a prior marijuana conviction and a charge pending for possessing a drug other than marijuana, she said.

Edward Wade, meanwhile, allegedly "jumped out the window" when detectives came, making him a flight risk, Pillai said.

Both were charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and were ordered by Butanis to be held on $25,000 bail.

The drug task force includes the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police, Aberdeen Police Department, Bel Air Police Department, Havre de Grace Police Department and the Harford County State's Attorney's Office.

Edward Hopkins, spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, declined to give any more details on the investigation.

"I can only say that we have an ongoing active narcotics investigation and all investigative documents related to the investigation have been sealed," Hopkins said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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