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Cocaine dealer loses bid for reduced term

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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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