Until last year, Gregory Lloyd Gasper owned a successful Annapolis business that manufactured dental appliances.
His descent from businessman to armed robber, fueled by his need for money to supply a crack cocaine habit, was detailed yesterday in Circuit Court, where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Gasper, 37, dubbed the "ponytail robber" during his two-month crime spree, admitted to robbing five stores in Anne Arundel County in January and February 1991 and was sentenced by Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. to 17 years in prison. He was also sentenced yesterday to a 20-year sentence, to be served concurrently, for committing four robberies during the same period in Prince George's County.
Gasper, of the 1700 block of Drejar Trail in Annapolis, is already serving a 10-year sentence for robberies he committed during the same period in Baltimore County.
Judge Thieme ordered that he serve yesterday's sentences in addition to his Baltimore County term, bringing the total to 30 years. In each of the robberies, Gasper wielded a toy gun and a fake bomb, made up of three flares tied together.
In Anne Arundel County, Gasper admitted to robbing $1,500 from a Safeway in Arnold, $100 from Admiral Cleaners in Gambrills, $205 from a Subway sandwich shop in Glen Burnie, $172 from Johnny's Sweet Shop in Crofton and $6,500 from a Value Food Store in Severna Park.
He was arrested Feb. 12, 1991, after an employee at a Safeway in Lake Shore Plaza in Pasadena spotted a man with a ponytail wandering around the store and realized he matched the description of the suspect in other robberies of Safeway stores. He and two other employees tackled Gasper and held him until police arrived.
Elizabeth Holliday, Gasper's longtime friend and business partner, testified at yesterday's hearing that the business began to fall apart as Gasper became more deeply involved in using crack. Before he became involved with drugs, she described him as a man "who has always cared about others." But she said his crack habit made him desperate.
"I realized the personality change became so profound that I no longer knew this man," she said.
She asked Judge Thieme for compassion and leniency so Gasper could seek drug treatment. "He's not an easy person to give up on," she said. "I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this man can be rehabilitated."
But Assistant State's Attorney Frederick M. Paone pointed out that Gasper had a criminal record, including a 1974 conviction for rape and robbery, before his addiction.
Addressing Judge Thieme before he passed the sentences, Gasper said he most regretted terrorizing his victims and "the possibility that they will never trust humanity again. . . . All I can do is to do what I can to reform."
After the hearing, Gasper's attorney, Richard O'Connor, said he was doubtful Gasper would get the drug treatment he needs in prison.
"All they do is they give him Narcotics Anonymous meetings he can go to once or twice a week. That's really all there is," he said. "I think there's more opportunity to supply yourself with dope there than to get off of it."
In other court hearings yesterday, bond was set at $250,000 for a Prince George's County man charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 17 shooting o man in Laurel, allegedly in an argument over the sale of guns.
Sean Christopher Cartee, 20, of the 7000 block of Hanover Parkway in Greenbelt, originally had been ordered held without bond at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.
Mr. Cartee is accused of shooting Kevin Marcell Braxton, 26, of no fixed address, 14 times with a 9mm Beretta semiautomatic handgun while the two were concluding the sale of several weapons, including a MAC-10 assault weapon.
Mr. Cartee's attorney, Paul Hazelhurst, argued that his client, originally from Iowa, has ties with a family in Hyattsville with whom he could stay if he makes bail.
Mr. Hazelhurst also indicated that he will argue during the trial that Mr. Cartee fired in self-defense. The fact that the victim was shot 14 times does not detract from this defense, Mr. Hazelhurst said, because the weapon was a semiautomatic and Mr. Cartee, his panic, may simply have kept his finger on the trigger.
A Gambrills man serving a 15-year sentence for second-degree murder received an additional year of jail yesterday for breaking and entering.
MacArthur Rayman, 19, of the 1200 block of Waugh Chapel Road, was convicted of three misdemeanor breaking and entering charges and one charge of storehouse breaking. He received three-month consecutive sentences for each.
Rayman was convicted in January of killing Marcus Maddox, 19, of Cape St. Claire last summer. Mr. Maddox had been shot twice in the head and once in the shoulder with a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle.
Mr. Maddox had helped bail Rayman out of jail at the request of Quentin Maddox, who had befriended Rayman while the two were jailed at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.
Rayman told the police that he and Mr. Maddox had smoked a large quantity of marijuana together, and that he shot Mr. Maddox as they "ran through the house playing a Rambo-Hulk Hogan type of a game." He maintained the shooting was an accident, caused when he tripped on some stairs.