Woman receives probation in undercover drug sale


On the surface, Connie Marie Shore's Circuit Court file has all the makings of a big-deal drug case.

Five grand jury indictments, an undercover drug buy, and the seizure and sale of the 18-year-old's Chevy truck are detailed in the file.

But a closer look at Carroll County Criminal File 17376, her attorneys say, shows that the case of Maryland vs. Connie Marie Shore results from the defendant's "being at the wrong place, at the wrong time with the wrong person."

Police say Ms. Shore was arrested by members of the Carroll Narcotics Task Force in February, when her boyfriend, Robert John Stevenson Jr., was observed selling marijuana to an undercover drug agent.

She was sitting next to him in her truck at the time, court testimony showed. Agents say they seized less than an ounce of marijuana.

After agents arrested her and her boyfriend, she posted a $5,000 bond. She was soon indicted on five counts of drug possession, distribution and conspiracy. Mr. Stevenson's case is pending trial.

In the criminal case, Ms. Shore agreed to a statement of facts supplied to the court by a prosecutor, and she was found guilty of conspiracy. The state dropped the four other charges against her.

Last week, Judge Francis M. Arnold gave her the chance to wipe that conviction off her record if she completes three years of unsupervised probation.

"I'm not totally convinced you were deeply involved in this," Judge Arnold told Ms. Shore as he granted her probation before judgment Tuesday. "You were there when your boyfriend was selling things to undercover policemen that he never should have been selling. But you look like you are on the right track."

Ms. Shore may not be deeply involved in drugs, but her truck was, prosecutors claimed, and that's why the task force seized and sold it.

Task force agents confiscated the 1976 Chevy after Ms. Shore's arrest because, prosecutors said, undercover agents bought drugs from the cab of the truck on several occasions.

The seizure and sale of assets linked to people suspected of drug use or sales are common practices nationwide.

But her attorneys say the forfeiture in Ms. Shore's case was handled improperly.

While Ms. Shore was aware that her truck was seized, she didn't know it was sold until she was walking by Petry's Junk Yard on Gorsuch Road a couple of months ago and saw it in the yard.

In forfeiture cases, the owners of the property to be forfeited and their attorneys are supposed to be given a chance to argue against the forfeiture at a court hearing.

But Ms. Shore's defense attorneys, Stephen P. Bourexis and Judith S. Stainbrook, claim that neither she nor they were served with court papers regarding forfeiture of the truck.

Ms. Shore has appealed the May 12 forfeiture to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

However, her lawyers admit that the chances of Ms. Shore getting her truck back are slim.

"We don't suspect she'll ever recover anything, but we're just wondering if different rules apply to asset forfeiture cases," Ms. Stainbrook said. "We should have been served with those papers."

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