Cocaine dealer loses bid for reduced term


Westminster cocaine distributor Noland Maurice Rheubottom, serving 45 years in state prison on his third conviction in three years, failed to persuade a Carroll judge yesterday to shorten his sentence by seven years.

Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. dismissed Rheubottom's claim that a suspended seven-year sentence he received for a 1991 conviction violated the terms of a plea bargain he made with prosecutors.

In that case, Rheubottom pleaded innocent to possession with intent to distribute cocaine, but allowed prosecutors to read a statement of facts that contained sufficient information for a judge to find him guilty.

Rheubottom claimed the prosecutor and his defense attorney promised him that Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold would impose a sentence that would not increase the amount of time he would spend behind bars.

But the judge did not bind himself to the agreement. Judge Arnold imposed a suspended seven-year sentence to run consecutively to the defendant's previous sentence.

In court yesterday, his attorney said he believed Judge Arnold had agreed to impose a concurrent sentence. Judge Burns found no merit to the argument, and dismissed Rheubottom's request.

At the time of the 1991 sentencing, Rheubottom was serving two years of a 15-year sentence -- 13 years had been suspended -- on a drug distribution conviction in Baltimore.

Rheubottom is serving the 45 years without parole in the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

A third conviction last year brought a 25-year sentence and caused court officials to find him guilty of probation violations in his earlier cases. That added more time to his prison term, because the earlier seven-year sentence and the suspended 13-year sentence were reimposed by the court.

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