Cocaine dealer pleads for drug treatment, not prison

December 03, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Diane Lynn Wisner, twice convicted on cocaine distribution charges, asked Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold yesterday to send her to a drug treatment program and spare her from a possible minimum, mandatory prison term of 10 years without parole.

"If I wanted to go in there [prison] and be the drug dealer I'm made out to be, I'd come out of there after 10 years with the best connections," she said, her voice choked with sobs.

Prosecutors are asking the court to sentence Wisner, 34, of the 3500 block of Littlestown Pike in Union Mills, to a minimum of 10 years without parole under the state's so-called "two-time loser" statute.

"Do not, I beg you, do not release her to the community," prosecutor Barton F. Walker III argued in response to Wisner's plea. "It's time to take the blinders off . . . and face reality. We have to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.'"

Wisner made her plea under a little-used provision of the multiple-offender statute that gives judges discretion in sentencing drug addicts. Judge Arnold could impose the mandatory sentence or he can order Wisner to undergo extensive drug treatment and, at the conclusion of such treatment, he could decide whether she should serve any time behind bars.

"This is a very difficult choice," Judge Arnold said during the hearing. "This woman is 34 years old. Are we going to take a slice out of her life, or do we try to salvage her?

"I don't think she's a big-time drug dealer. I think Ms. Wisner dealt drugs to support her habit. She was a serious addict. Do we give her an opportunity to rehabilitate herself?"

The judge said he needed time to think about his decision and delayed imposing sentence.

Wisner has served about 11 months in state prison on a two-year sentence Judge Arnold gave her for possession with intent to distribute cocaine last year. That conviction, which stemmed from a search of her mother's car during a traffic stop last May, was her first.

In January, Wisner was to receive probation before judgment, meaning that the conviction would have been wiped from her criminal record after successfully completing probation.

But the day before she was to appear before Judge Arnold for sentencing, she was arrested by Carroll County Narcotics Task Force officers and charged with dealing cocaine.

A jury convicted her of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and related charges in that case in July.

In addition to seeking drug treatment, Wisner argued for a new trial in the second case.

She and her attorneys, Stephen P. Bourexis and Judith S. Stainbrook, argued that the judge in that case failed to instruct ZTC jurors that Wisner's admitted involvement in prostitution and shoplifting could not be used to find her guilty in the drug case.

During her July trial, Wisner contended that the cocaine confiscated by the drug task force was for her own use.

She said that she did not deal drugs and, to get money to buy the cocaine, she would shoplift and engage in prostitution.

Judge Arnold did not rule yesterday on her request for a new trial.

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