A former Magothy Middle School teacher was sentenced to six months of house arrest yesterday for conspiring with convicted drug trafficker James Todd Hibler to sell marijuana.

Thomas Russell Rubins, 46, whose 25-year teaching career ended after his arrest last May, was placed under house arrest after Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. suspended a one-year jail sentence. Thieme also placed Rubins on five years' probation.

Prosecutors have said Rubins bought 2 pounds of marijuana a week from Hibler from December 1988 until Hibler's arrest in November 1989. At a December hearing in which Rubins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, his attorney, Gill Cochran, disputed that claim.

Cochran said Rubins, who was a seventh-grade math teacher, bought only a pound of marijuana a month from Hibler. Thelawyer said Rubins sold marijuana to other "professional people" butnot to students.

The conspiracy to distribute conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Rubins, who was joined at yesterday's hearing by his wife and three teen-age sons, has declined to comment on his case.

Commenting on Thieme's sentence, Cochran said, "I think the sentence of house arrest was given because he was a teacher."

Rubins has suffered public embarrassment and is now working as a construction surveyor, Cochran said, adding, "He lost a $45,000-a-year job. He now has an $11,000-a-year job."

Rubins' arrest, described by a school official as the only oneof itskind in the past two decades, shocked Magothy Middle's students and their parents. Rubins was suspended without pay after the charge, but he has since retired.

Michael O. Bergeson, an assistant state's attorney who also prosecuted Hibler, said Rubins' name and phonenumber were found in Hibler's records during the November 1989 police raid at the Hibler family home in Crofton.

Police have said Hibler ran the largest drug operation in county history. He is serving a 25-year sentence for storing drugs in a Prince George's county apartment and 15 years without parole for operating the drug ring out of the family home.

Police posing as drug dealers called Rubins, who confirmed that he had been buying drugs from Hibler, Bergeson said. Officers searched Rubins' house in the 100 block Lafayette Avenue, Annapolis, and found a pipe -- still warm -- with marijuana residue and a prescription bottle containing a small amount of marijuana, the prosecutor said.

Cochran said Rubins has since moved elsewhere in the county.

After his arrest, Rubins told police that he was among a groupof people who pooled their money to buy marijuana and that he didn'tthink smoking marijuana was as bad as drinking, Bergeson said.

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