With his son in jail for running Anne Arundel County's largest drug ring, his career "destroyed," and with the media "vilifying" him on a daily basis, Lt. Col. Russell J. Hibler has "suffered enough" and should not be court-martialed on charges stemming from his son's activities, his lawyer said yesterday.
But U.S. Air Force investigators countered that Colonel Hibler -- a former counselor of drug and alcohol abusers -- should have known what his son James Todd Hibler was doing in their family home in Crofton.
It would have been impossible, Capt. Barbara Brano said yesterday, for Colonel Hibler not to have noticed the smell of 77 pounds of drying marijuana, or wonder about the piles of cash in the basement or trip over the AK-47 assault rifle in the kitchen.
"This is not a person who can claim ignorance of what was goingon," Captain Brano told Col. Jay A. Rowland, the chief investigating officer.
An investigation into Colonel Hibler's knowledge of his son's activities and whether he aided them concluded yesterday morning, when his lawyers and investigating officers squared off in final arguments in a small courtroom at Fort Meade.
Colonel Rowland will write what is known as an Article 32 report with his recommendations for or against court-martial. He will send the report to Colonel Hibler's superior, Col. James Bowers of the 6940th Electronic Security Wing at Fort Meade, who will decided whether Colonel Hibler should be prosecuted.
The investigating officer's report, which could take days or weeks to prepare, will not be made public, said Capt. Dominick Cardonita, an Air Force spokesman.
If he is court-martialed, Colonel Hibler will face charges that he possessed 50 pounds of marijuana, sev
en pounds of cocaine and four pounds of hashish with the intent to distribute, and that he behaved in a manner unbecoming an officer by allowing his house to be used for the drugs' storage and distribution, Captain Cardonita said.
Each charge of possession carries with it a maximum jail term of 15 years; the conduct unbecoming an officer charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
Colonel Hibler's son is serving a 25-year sentence for storing drugs in a Prince George's county apartment, and 15 years without parole for operating the drug ring out of the family home in Crofton.
Colonel Hibler is not facing civilian charges. An Anne Arundel County grand jury decided not to indict him on drug conspiracy charges, even though he was at home Nov. 2, when police raided the house and seized 77 pounds of marijuana, 12 pounds of cocaine, $77,000 in cash and various weapons.