A former Ocean City cocaine distributor has withdrawn his guilty plea to a federal money-laundering charge and instead has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge contained in a 15-count indictment against him and his wife.
Richard R. McCleary of Key West, Fla., changed his plea last week in a hearing before Chief Judge Walter E. Black Jr. in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Prosecutors Susan M. Ringler and Robert E. Sims endorsed the switch in pleas, which reduced the maximum possible prison sentence for McCleary from 15 years to five.
Ringler said the difference in prison time McCleary actually would serve could be reduced by about 10 months by the plea switch. But she said the conspiracy count carries a no-parole prison term and the money-laundering charge does not.
Ringler also said the government will recommend the maximum prison term for McCleary under federal sentencing guidelines, and will ask Black to impose it consecutively to a 25-year state sentence the defendant already is serving on drug charges.
McCleary's wife, Suzanne Gentz McCleary, alias Suzanne Cohill, serving a 15-month federal prison term for her part in the money-laundering scheme. She pleaded guilty in May to structuring bank deposits of less than $10,000 to avoid federal financial reporting requirements.