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Warrant issued for man in case over marijuana

The Baltimore Sun

A convicted armed robber and drug dealer who received $42,000 in help from a state fund that assists crime victims failed to appear at a court hearing yesterday in Baltimore, prompting a warrant for his arrest.

Deandra M. Gaskins, 31, of South Baltimore was scheduled to appear in Baltimore District Court on a charge of marijuana possession stemming from an arrest in February.

The warrant, issued by Judge Charles A. Chiapparelli, was the third issued for Gaskins this month. Warrants also were issued after he failed to show up at a hearing on an alleged probation violation and at a trial on drug charges, court records show.

Gaskins was featured in a Sun investigation published in March revealing that 217 criminal offenders received nearly $1.8 million from the Maryland Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund since 2003. The fund was created in 1968 to assist crime victims and their families with medical bills, lost wages and funeral expenses.

Gaskins, of the 3300 block of Round Road in the Cherry Hill neighborhood, was among 147 people convicted of felonies in Baltimore who received money from the fund. By the time he applied for compensation money in 2005, he had been convicted of dealing heroin, stealing a car and holding up a man and a woman at gunpoint, court records show.

In May 2005, he left Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where he worked on stadium cleanup, and stopped by a friend's rowhouse, he said in an interview this year. As he and others hung out on the front steps, a car pulled up to the group, and a man sitting in back fired an assault rifle at Gaskins, who was struck in the left hand as he ran, Gaskins said. He said he did not know the men in the car.

Surgery gave him partial use of his hand.

Gaskins received $42,363 from the fund to pay off bills with the University of Maryland Medical System and its affiliates.

Maryland, unlike at least eight other states, does not prohibit felons like Gaskins from receiving victim compensation funds.

In an interview in March, Gaskins said he had turned around his life and was trying to raise his two boys.

Attempts to reach Gaskins and a lawyer who represented him in the past were unsuccessful yesterday.

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