A federal judge sentenced a Laurel man to 17 years in prison Thursday after finding he distributed large amounts of cocaine, fentanyl and marijuana through the U.S. Postal Service, mailing the drugs from post offices in California to multiple locations in Maryland.
U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher found that Michael Fisher, 47, was involved in what federal prosecutors described as a large-scale drug trafficking organization in 2019 and 2020, possessing or distributing approximately 120 kilograms of cocaine, 6.5 kilograms of fentanyl and 50 kilograms of marijuana. The finding at sentencing settled a dispute between lawyers over how much of the drugs were attributable to Fisher.
In August 2020, Fisher was arrested in Nevada after federal and state investigators surveilled him and Dwight Antonio Pitts, 47, of Hanover, listening to the two discuss drug transactions over the phone via a wiretap. Investigators later found that the men dropped off packages of drugs at post offices in California, bound for multiple locations in Maryland, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Officers searched one Las Vegas residence and six Maryland locations they said were associated with Pitts and Fisher in August 2020, finding nine firearms at locations associated with Fisher and six firearms at locations associated with Pitts. Investigators seized 25 kilograms of cocaine, 6.5 kilograms of fentanyl and about 50 kilograms of marijuana, along with $1.5 million in cash.
Federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum that Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed Fisher’s name is actually Mark Wilson. However, prosecutors continued to refer to him as Michael Fisher.
“He was born in Jamaica and was previously deported from the United States in 2003,” prosecutors said. “The defendant’s use of a false name is troubling, especially given the number of fake identification documents that were recovered from the defendant and his residence.”
Fisher pleaded guilty to drug distribution and possession charges last year, but later attempted to withdraw his plea, stating his attorney only provided him with a 30-page summary of thousands of pages of discovery material. Gallagher ruled against that request. Pitts pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to 15 years of incarceration in March.
Defense attorney Richard Bardos, who represented Fisher, submitted several letters from Fisher’s acquaintances describing him as a hardworking family man, willing to lend a helping hand at any time.
“I honestly don’t think I would have gotten in or through school without him,” wrote Sean Beswick, who said he has known Fisher for more than 30 years. He noted he had been incarcerated himself. “It was Michael encouraging me to do was right [sic] leave my past mistakes behind me and go back to school get a job to make myself a productive person in society.”
Bardos also asked the judge for leniency, writing in a sentencing memorandum that Fisher’s incarceration at the Chesapeake Detention Facility in Baltimore over the past two years has been “far more punishing and severe than if he had spent the equivalent time” at a federal prison. He noted that Fisher has contacted COVID-19 three times at the facility due to what he claimed were “unsanitary conditions.”
Federal prosecutors noted in a sentencing memorandum that Fisher had been convicted of a marijuana possession with intent to distribute charge in Anne Arundel County in 2016, saying the conduct “gave rise” to his conviction in the most recent case.
“This time, the defendant ramped up his illegal activity significantly and distributed substantially more narcotics and possessed many more firearms than he had in the past,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anatoly Smolkin wrote.
Gallagher sentenced Fisher to 17 years and ordered him to forfeit over $61,000 seized from a Laurel residence associated with him, as well as eight firearms.