Defiant and angry, James Mitchell Emory told a Circuit Court judge yesterday he will be cleared of charges he and his brother ran the biggest marijuana ring in county history.
"Today's conviction will be temporary. My innocence will be proven," Emory said in a packed courtroom.
Judge H. Chester Goudy listened, then sentenced him to 25 years without parole for his conviction on drug kingpin charges.
Judge Goudy sentenced Roger Emory, who declined to comment, to 20 years without parole for conviction on the same charges.
"It appeared to me, sitting up here during this trial, that the evidence was just overwhelming," Judge Goudy said.
Virginia Watts, the Emorys' mother, vowed after the sentencing to "spend every last penny" on an appeal she said will reverse her sons' convictions.
"This isn't over till the fat lady sings, and she hasn't sung yet," Mrs. Watts said.
The Emory brothers, their wives and six others were arrested Oct. 29 in county police raids on their houses and storage lockers in Millersville and Glen Burnie where about 400 pounds of marijuana were seized.
The case gained widespread attention because James Emory's wife, Patricia Emory, was the principal of Severna Park Elementary School. Charges against her were dropped.
James Emory, 47, of Pasadena was convicted on three counts of being a drug kingpin and charges of importation of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute more than 50 pounds of marijuana. Roger Emory, 44, of Glen Burnie, who faced the same charges, was convicted on all except one kingpin count and an importation of marijuana charge.
L But James Emory insisted yesterday he was unfairly targeted.
Reading from a prepared statement, he said prosecutors and police joined in a "political conspiracy" because of the "mistaken arrest and exploitation of an innocent elementary school principal."
State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said yesterday the case was the result of "an effective cooperative effort" among county police and prosecutors.
"We did not proceed against his wife because there was insufficient evidence against her. I don't know that there was anything political about that," he said. "The judge said there was overwhelming evidence. I don't see anything political in that."
Mrs. Emory, who did not attend the trial or the sentencing, would not comment yesterday, but her attorney said she is waiting to go back to work.
She has been on administrative leave with pay since last fall.
Jane Doyle, a school spokeswoman, said Superintendent C. Berry Carter II should have a recommendation for the school board in the next two to three weeks.
The board could decide what to do at its meetings May 19, or June 2, she said.
The Emorys faced mandatory 20-year sentences for each drug kingpin count. Judge Goudy agreed to allow the terms to run concurrently after the brothers' lawyers argued that their clients would be in their 60s after only one term.
Timothy D. Murnane, Roger Emory's attorney, noted that they will never see their children and grandchildren outside of prison.
"Think of all the Kodak moments they'll miss," he said.
The brothers are the only defendants in the case to go to trial.
Philip B. Dulany, 48, of Pasadena and George T. Johnson Jr., 47, of Glen Burnie pleaded guilty in March to charges of importation of marijuana and possession of 50 pounds or more of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Dulany also pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine.
Lawrence C. Leiben, the star prosecution witness, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine.
Sentences for them are pending.
William Bailey Jr., 46, of Annapolis pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50 pounds or more of marijuana and conspiracy to import 100 pounds of marijuana.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors have scheduled forfeiture hearings for next fall on the homes, vehicles and firearms owned by the Emorys.