Drug trial witness freed from jail Testimony aided kingpin convictions

September 30, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A 50-year-old Glen Burnie man was rewarded yesterday for playing what prosecutors say was a major role in shutting down one of the biggest drug rings in county history.

Larry Leiben, of the first block of St. Agnes Road, a key prosecution witness against James and Roger Emory, was released from the county jail and will be allowed to serve the remainder of his 18-month jail sentence under house arrest.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr. freed Leiben after finding he had fulfilled the requirements for house arrest that the judge set out in his June 28 sentence -- that Leiben stay out of trouble at the jail for 90 days.

"This whole thing worked out very well for Mr. Leiben, but he earned it. He sang for his supper," said Gill Cochran, Leiben's lawyer.

Mr. Cochran said that his client, who admitted his guilt to police when he was arrested, now has to worry about retribution from co-defendants.

"He may be out of jail, but he's going to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life," Mr. Cochran said.

State's attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said that Leiben, who pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute, had faced up to 25 years in prison.

He said his office gave up little in exchange for Leiben's cooperation.

"Our agreement with him was that we make no recommendation at sentencing, and we didn't. Beyond that, his sentence was up to the judge, but certainly his cooperation had something to do with it," Mr. Weathersbee said.

In a separate civil case, prosecutors also allowed Leiben to keep his Porsche rather than face losing it under state drug forfeiture laws, as a fruit of illicit drug activity.

Judge Goudy's order means Leiben will be able to work at his trade, as a laser engraver, out of his Glen Burnie home or whatever business location he chooses.

But the judge's release order restricts him to working out of a single location.

Leiben pleaded guilty before Judge Goudy March 19 after agreeing to testify against James and Roger Emory, two brothers charged with operating one of the biggest marijuana rings in county history.

The three men were charged along with several others after a 10-month investigation that culminated Oct. 29 when police raided several homes, businesses and rented storage lockers, confiscated more than 300 pounds of marijuana and arrested 10 people.

Police searching Leiben's property, on the first block of St. Agnes Road in Glen Burnie, recovered four pounds of marijuana, $6,000 in cash and a number of zip-lock baggies of marijuana, according to court records.

In a lengthy trial before Judge Goudy in April, Leiben detailed for a jury how the Emorys brought marijuana into Maryland from Texas by the bale, stored it in storage lockers and parceled it out to a network of smaller drug dealers.

James Emory, convicted of three counts of being a drug kingpin, was sentenced by Judge Goudy to 25 years without parole.

Roger Emory, convicted of one drug-kingpin count, was sentenced to 20 years without parole.

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