Head of drug ring gets sentence of 25 years without parole


Brian Gill, the first person in Carroll County to be convicted under Maryland's drug kingpin statute, was sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole yesterday.

Gill, also known as Christopher Jason Bowen, pleaded guilty to the kingpin charge in June in a plea agreement. The sentence, which was recommended by prosecutors as part of the agreement, was imposed by Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold.

In return for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop more than 90 other distribution and possession charges.

The kingpin statute calls for a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years without parole.

"I can't help but feel compassion for you. You are a young man who didn't have a good start," Judge Arnold said yesterday in response to defense comments that Gill had been raised on the streets with little supervision.

"But you have caused misery for others and brought untold anguish to the people, particularly the young people, of this community that we'll never know," Judge Arnold said.

To be charged under the kingpin statute, a defendant must be caught with 50 grams or more of crack cocaine or an ounce or more of heroin, Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes said yesterday.

Gill, 27, was arrested in November 1994, along with eight other people, in connection with a two-month undercover investigation called Operation Center Court. At the time, Gill admitted that he was the head of a drug distribution ring that cleared about $10,000 a week.

The investigation included representatives of the state police; the Westminster police; the FBI; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; and the county's drug task force.

"By his own statement, he had eight people dealing drugs for him on the street," Mr. Barnes told the judge yesterday. "He said he, his associates and his brothers were dealing drugs in four states."

Gill also admitted to an undercover officer last year that his dealers were cocaine addicts who were promised one free bag of the drug for every 20 they sold, Mr. Barnes said.

The defendant also offered to help the undercover officer set up a drug territory of his own, Mr. Barnes said.

"What is clear is that he is a drug dealer of the highest magnitude," Mr. Barnes said. "We'll never know how many lives he touched, but, luckily, he was ferreted out."

When he was arrested, Gill was on probation for a Baltimore County drug distribution violation, Mr. Barnes said. He also had at least five other convictions, including two handgun violations in New York.

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