A former Magothy Middle School teacher pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring with convicted drug trafficker James Todd Hibler to sell marijuana.
Thomas Russell Rubins, 46, whose 25-year teaching career ended after his arrest last May, bought two pounds of marijuana a week from Hibler from December 1988 until Hibler's arrest in November 1989, prosecutors said.
Rubins' attorney, Gill Cochran, disputed that claim, saying Rubins bought only a pound of marijuana a month from Hibler. Cochran added that Rubins, who was a seventh-grade math teacher, did not sell marijuana to students.
Cochran said Rubins sold marijuana to other "professional people," but he would not elaborate. Rubins declined to comment.
Cochran said Rubins has started a new career but, citing concerns for his client's privacy, the defense attorney would say only that Rubins is working in a professional position in the construction industry.
"Anne Arundel County lost an extremely talented teacher," Cochran added.
He brought to court a certificate of appreciation for 25 years of teaching given to Rubins by the county school system in July.
Rubins' arrest, described by a school official as the only one of its kind in the past two decades, shocked Magothy Middle's students and their parents. Rubins was suspended without pay after the charge, but he has since retired.
Michael O. Bergeson, an assistant state's attorney who as a member of the office's drug task force also prosecuted Hibler, said Rubins' name and phone number was among those found in Hibler's records by county police. He said police made that discovery during the November 1989 raid at the Hibler family home in Crofton that led to Hibler's arrest.
Police have said Hibler ran the largest drug operation in county history. He 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.
Police posing as drug dealers called Rubins, who confirmed that he had been buying drugs from Hibler, Bergeson said. Officers then executed a search warrant on Rubins' house in the 100 block Lafayette Avenue, Annapolis, turning up a pipe -- still warm -- with marijuana residue and a prescription bottle containing a small amount of marijuana, the prosecutor said.
Cochran said Rubins has since moved from the house, but he would only say that Rubins still lives in the county.
After being arrested, Rubins told police he was among a group of people who pooled their money to buy quantities of marijuana and that he didn't think smoking marijuana was as bad as drinking, Bergeson said.
With his wife watching, Rubins pleaded guilty in county Circuit Court to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine, Bergeson said.
Rubins is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 14.