Cocaine dealer convicted Carroll man faces heavy penalties as '3-time loser'

January 21, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A Carroll jury took less than an hour yesterday to convict Noland Maurice Rheubottom of dealing cocaine out of his Westminster apartment last June.

The conviction -- his third -- could result in a sentence of up to 65 years under the state's so-called "three-time loser" statute.

"I vigorously prosecuted him, and now I am going to ask the court to keep him off the streets to protect the rest of society," Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III said after the jury's verdict.

Mr. Walker asked Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. to sentence Rheubottom to the minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years without parole for the cocaine distribution conviction.

In addition to the distribution count, Rheubottom was found guilty of maintaining a common nuisance, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Those charges carry additional sentences totaling up to 20 years, Mr. Walker said.

Judge Beck scheduled sentencing for Feb. 24.

Rheubottom also faces 20 years of additional prison time if the judges in his two previous cocaine distribution convictions rule that he violated the terms of his probation in those cases by committing the latest offenses. New convictions are usually enough to result in a probation violation.

If Judge Beck imposes all the new sentences to run consecutively, Rheubottom could be sent to prison until the year 2058.

Throughout the 2 1/2 -day trial, Rheubottom sat silently as his attorney, assistant public defender Edward T. Barry, tried to convince the jury that the half-ounce of cocaine found in the defendant's apartment belonged to his wife, Kristie Ann Rheubottom.

"Mrs. Rheubottom put Mr. Rheubottom into a very difficult position," Mr. Barry said in his closing argument.

Rheubottom was arrested last June 19 when Carroll County Narcotics Task Force officers raided his Main Street apartment.

Officers confiscated about a half-ounce of cocaine, a pager, a police scanner, a hand-held scale and nearly $4,400 in cash in the raid, they reported.

Mrs. Rheubottom was arrested several days later and also was charged with drug possession and distribution. Her charges are still pending.

Rheubottom never took the witness stand during his trial, and only two witnesses were called on his behalf. Mr. Barry gave the jury a copy of the police report and court charging documents in Mrs. Rheubottom's case to show that she was the one who ran a drug operation in the family.

"Our defense has been that Mr. Rheubottom had nothing to do with it," Mr. Barry said. "Mr. Rheubottom is not guilty. It is his wife who is guilty."

Mr. Barry said he will file an appeal.

"We're disappointed in the verdict," he said. "It was a hard-fought case."

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