Aberdeen man guilty of selling drugs to police


A 24-year-old man who was given a month in prison and a six-month stint in boot camp after he was convicted of dealing cocaine in 1992 was found guilty of the same charge in two cases in the past two weeks in Harford County Circuit Court. He got much stiffer sentences this time.

Juan Valentino "Mookie" Howard of the first block of East Bel Air Ave. in Aberdeen will serve the first 10 years of concurrent 30-year terms in state prison without the possibility of parole.

Judge Stephen M. Waldron accepted Howard's guilty plea Wednesday in the sale of cocaine to an undercover police officer.

The week before last, a jury in Harford County Circuit Court found Howard guilty of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in the sale of cocaine to a different undercover police officer.

Howard was given credit for 454 days already served in jail. Judge Waldron suspended 15 years on each concurrent count and ordered Howard to serve the first 10 years without parole because he is a subsequent offender, meaning that he violated the law after previously being convicted.

The judge also placed Howard on four years of supervised probation upon his release from prison and fined him $1,500.

Howard also faces a maximum of 10 additional years for violating probation in the earlier conviction, prosecutor Hans Miller, an assistant state's attorney for Harford County, said Wednesday.

Howard was arrested at his residence about 4 a.m. April 13, 1994, in one of three raids conducted by 50 members of the Harford County Joint Narcotics Task Force, court records showed.

He was charged with selling 4.3 grams of cocaine to an undercover state trooper for $400 on April 7, 1994.

Later he was charged with the same offense stemming from a March 29, 1994, sale of cocaine to a different undercover officer, court records showed.

According to undercover investigators, their informants and court records, Howard moved from Detroit to the Aberdeen area in 1991 to improve a marijuana operation that he had started in Detroit.

He bragged that it was easier to deal drugs in Harford County, where he called police officers "hillbillies", investigators said.

The Task Force learned of Howard's drug operation in 1992 and eventually linked him to a location in the 100 block of Dean Street in Aberdeen, where they believed he was buying and selling drugs.

A subsequent raid of that address led to Howard's arrest and indictment in October 1992.

On May 18, 1993, Howard pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution and Judge William O. Carr sentenced him to 15 years in prison. The judge suspended 10 years of that sentence and allowed Howard to be eligible for Herman L. Toulson boot camp in Jessup.

In June 1993, Howard entered boot camp, an alternative sentencing program of rigid discipline that allows inmates to earn early release. He was released from the Jessup program in December 1993.

Within days, undercover investigators said they were aware that Howard had renewed connections with dealers in New York, Philadelphia and Detroit and was dealing drugs.

In another Circuit Court case last week:

* An Edgewood drug dealer was sentenced to 40 years in state prison with all but 18 years suspended and ordered to serve the first 10 years without parole.

Clarence Eugene Banks Jr., 20, of the 500 block of Crownwood Court was found guilty May 22 of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and distribution of crack cocaine within a school zone.

Judge Stephen M. Waldron handed down the the sentence after the defendant said he was tired of Harford County and the way the county was always trying to railroad him, said prosecutor Diana A. Brooks, an assistant state's attorney.

Banks conviction came 10 days after he had been arrested as one of six suspects accused in the gang rape of an Edgewood woman. At that time, he was free on bond on attempted murder charges, court records showed.

Banks is accused of wielding a knife in the rape and attempted murder incidents.

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