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Drug convict gets same sentence 2nd time around


For Noland Maurice Rheubottom, the sentencing hearing Friday for his May drug dealing conviction probably seemed like deja vu.

Rheubottom was given a mandatory 25-year prison term without parole, the same sentence he received two years ago the first PTC time he was tried on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of cocaine and maintaining a common nuisance.

"When certain defendants reach this point in their criminal careers, there is only room for punishment," said Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes. "This is certainly one of the more serious sentences handed down for drug dealing. The public demands it, and I applaud the court for handing down that sentence."

The previous conviction, which stemmed from a 1992 raid on Rheubottom's Westminster apartment, was overturned by Maryland's Court of Special Appeals last year when judges determined that the prosecutor had misled the jury in closing arguments. In addition, appellate judges said Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. failed to instruct the jury about the incorrect statements.

Friday, Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold sentenced Rheubottom in connection with his May trial, when a jury again found him guilty of charges based on the 1992 arrest.

"We're disappointed at the sentence," said Carroll County Public Defender Barbara Kreinar, Rheubottom's attorney.

She said her client will appeal the decision. "We certainly suspected this would happen, but we are disappointed," she said.

The 25-year sentence was required under the state three-time loser sentencing guidelines. Rheubottom had been convicted of drug-related crimes in 1990 and 1991, making him Carroll County's first three-time convicted cocaine dealer.

Judge Arnold rejected Ms. Kreinar's arguments that her client was not eligible for the mandatory 25-year sentence because he had not yet been charged with the first drug offense when he was arrested for the second.

Ms. Kreinar argued that the charges for the first offense, which were entered in District Court, didn't count because Circuit Court eventually had jurisdiction. Most charges, unless brought before a grand jury, are entered in District Court and then moved Circuit Court.

"Mr. Rheubottom is in a unique situation," she said. "He didn't qualify on his second offense for the mandatory 10-year sentence, which takes the third out. He is not eligible for any mandatory no-parole sentencing."

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