The former owner of an Annapolis pizza shop, facing deportation, wassentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison on a drug charge.
Antonio Rosario Priola, 45, of the first block of Pinkney St. in Annapolis, was sentenced under a law requiring a mandatory 10-year sentence for a third conviction on drug charges.
Court records show Priola's sister, Maria Priola, had put up her Severna Park house as bond for him, but requested release as his bondsman because he faces deportation. Priola, a resident alien, was convicted in November of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
Priola, who is being held at the Wicomico County jail, appeared in county Circuit Court yesterday wearing an orange jumpsuit with "I.N.S. detainee" printed on the back.
He was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine in July, following a stop for speeding on Manhattan Beach Road in Severna Park. A search of his car revealed a suitcase with two plastic bags containing the drug.
A records check showed his probation period for a drug violation had less than two weeks to run when he was arrested. The check also showed that a warrant was on file with the Maryland Natural Resources Police charging Priola with boating violations, but his lawyer, Paul F. Harris, said in court yesterday that no such warrant existed and a ruling that the subsequent vehicle search was legal likely will be appealed.
Judge Raymond G. Thieme ordered Priola be held in lieu of a $250,000 appeal bond.
Priola was convicted twice on felony drug charges, once in 1989 and again in 1990, court records show. Police who set a trap for him in 1988 found eight ounces of high-quality cocaine in his home and car, according to reports published in The Capital.
Harris said yesterday Priola had suffered from a cocaine problem and the drugs -- and the cutting agent -- found in his car the night of his arrest werefor his personal use. He explained the cutting agent was needed because the cocaine was so pure it would have damaged his client's nasal passages.
Priola apologized for his actions and, illustrating the depth of his drug problem, said he had lied to the judge at a previous hearing by saying he was not under the influence of drugs.
Published reports in The Capital have identified Priola as the brother of Guiseppe "Joe" Priola, a native of Sicily who, after being convicted in 1984 of soliciting both the murder of a business partner and the arson of their Glen Burnie restaurant, was given the choice of servingfive years in prison or returning to his homeland.
He was released in 1987 after serving 21 months in jail.