After a January raid by Carroll drug officers at his Finksburg home turned up more than a pound of marijuana, Richard William Boggs was charged with being a drug dealer -- despite not having lived there for the previous five months.
At the time of the raid, Mr. Boggs was serving a two-year jail sentence on unrelated traffic convictions, and was at his house only in the afternoons while he was in a work-release program. When a Carroll County Narcotics Task Force officer served the arrest warrant on him in his cell after the raid, Mr. Boggs said he knew nothing of the cache of pot found in his Sandymount Road home.
Yesterday, Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. acquitted Mr. Boggs on four drug counts. The judge said he didn't believe prosecutors proved that the 49-year-old, self-employed contractor knew the drugs were in his house.
"All of the factors in this case go against guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Judge Burns said at the end of a three-hour bench trial. "This court cannot find Mr. Boggs guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
One of the factors Judge Burns referred to was Mr. Boggs' successful completion of several random drug tests while he was on work release.
The case began last December, when a confidential informant told the Carroll drug task force that Donna Jean Boggs -- Mr. Boggs' wife of 15 years -- kept packs of marijuana in her home. The task force obtained a search warrant, signed by Judge Burns, and raided the house Jan. 19. Task force officers reported they found a five-gallon pail full of marijuana, as well as a dying marijuana plant, several pot pipes, guns and cigarette papers.
Police immediately arrested Mrs. Boggs, and charged her with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
"After the search, Richard Boggs was contacted at the Carroll County Detention Center . . . and was read his Miranda warnings and asked if he wanted to talk about the marijuana that was found at his residence," Westminster Detective Sgt. Andrew McKendrick wrote in charging documents filed in Carroll District Court. "Boggs stated that he knew nothing about the marijuana."
Nevertheless, he was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, maintaining a common nuisance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The new charges ended his eligibility for work release until Judge Burns acquitted him yesterday.
During the trial, Mrs. Boggs -- who pleaded guilty to one count of manufacturing marijuana and was placed on five years' probation in June -- insisted that her husband didn't know about the marijuana. She told Judge Burns that she was holding the pot for a "lifelong" friend who is a small-time dealer.
"Why hold the marijuana in your house?" asked Deputy State's Attorney Edward M. Ulsch, who prosecuted Mr. Boggs.
"I guess it was just dumb," Mrs. Boggs said.
"You are saying you were willing to expose yourself and your family to a felony conviction?"
"I didn't know he [the friend] would rat me out," she replied.
Mr. Boggs has about a year left to serve on his sentence for driving while intoxicated and driving while his license was revoked.
Mrs. Boggs' conviction will be stricken from her criminal record if she completes her probation.