A 20-year-old man was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison in a plea deal for his role in a burglary ring that targeted scores of warehouses and construction sites throughout Maryland.
Samuel David Thomas of Abingdon in Harford County was sentenced in Howard County Circuit Court after blaming his cocaine addiction for leading him into 38 thefts and burglaries.
Thomas was one of four men charged in connection with burglaries and thefts in Baltimore, Howard County and four other Maryland counties that police say were carried out by the ring between January 1992 and July 1994.
Howard police believe the ring -- whose members worked at an Arbutus insulation company -- is responsible for 115 break-ins at houses under construction, 58 thefts from storage trailers and panel trucks, 14 burglaries at warehouses and 21 truck thefts.
"The things that I did I know were wrong," a tearful Thomas told Judge James B. Dudley before receiving his sentence. "I didn't know what I was doing. But I knew I was wrong."
Judge Dudley castigated Thomas. He said the penalties are likely to punish Thomas' family as much as the defendant. His mother, wife and infant son attended yesterday's hearing.
Judge Dudley sentenced Thomas to 15 years in the state Division of Corrections, but suspended all but two years. Thomas will receive credit for the 140 days he has served.
Thomas also must complete five years of supervised probation, undergo drug counseling and conduct 200 hours of community service. If he doesn't meet these terms, he could be ordered to serve the remaining 13 years of his prison sentence.
Thomas pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one count of storehouse breaking and entering.
Those charges are related to the theft of a rental truck in October 1993, theft of more than $2,000 of seafood from the back of a truck in September 1993, and burglary of a Video Concepts warehouse in Jessup in September 1993.
As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution dropped 172 counts of theft, burglary, malicious destruction and unauthorized use of vehicles.
Thomas and his three co-defendants were arrested in September after an informant supplied their names and took the investigator to several burglary sites.
The other defendants have entered plea agreements in their Howard County cases. Some still have cases pending in other counties.
The ringleader of the group -- Mark Todd, 27, of Abingdon -- is to be sentenced June 6 after accepting a plea agreement last month. The terms of his plea deal limit his prison sentence to five years.
Robert Steven Taylor, 30, of Baltimore is serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty in April. The fourth member, Todd Lamar Fry, 25, of Baltimore was given a suspended prison term in March.