Drug squad informant gets suspended sentence

February 25, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

In the end, Michael F. Cartwright got what he was promised: The confidential informant who helped Carroll's drug task force in a cocaine investigation was spared jail when he was sentenced yesterday for an unrelated traffic offense.

Cartwright, 21, of Owings Mills said last year that the coordinator of the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force promised to keep him out of jail on his second charge of driving with a revoked license because of his work with the drug enforcement group. Cartwright also claimed that he was told not to bother getting an attorney because the charge would be taken care of.

Yesterday, everything did work out, for Cartwright at least, but not until he had revealed himself as a drug informant and antagonized a somewhat embarrassed drug enforcement group.

Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold, who heard Cartwright's initial claim during a closed bench conference in October, imposed a suspended six-month sentence and three years of supervised probation.

Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III, the task force coordinator, said yesterday that he had consistently told Cartwright that he would recommend a suspended sentence in the traffic case.

"I made my original offer," Mr. Walker said. "And I stuck by it. I'd just as soon put this whole thing to rest."

Cartwright's claims were heard by Judge Arnold in December, when several members of the drug task force testified that while Cartwright did good work for them, no absolute promises were ever made about his traffic case.

Mr. Walker denied telling Cartwright to forgo legal services.

The December hearing opened up the usually secret world of Carroll drug officers and their confidential informants.

At the hearing, Cartwright said he was told by Mr. Walker that he didn't need an attorney and that he wouldn't go to jail.

"When I asked him if I needed a lawyer, he said, 'No, you can get what you want, you don't need a lawyer,' " Cartwright testified at the hearing.

After refusing to drop the charge because he said there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the task force, Judge Arnold convicted Cartwright. He could have gone to jail for a year.

The conviction also threatened to violate the terms of Cartwright's probation in a theft case, placing him at risk of being sentenced to 10 more years.

Cartwright and another informant, Patricia Fahnestock, 28, both said at the December hearing that prosecutors cast them aside after promising that they would be taken care of for helping the task force.

"I'm certainly glad he didn't get any jail time," Cartwright's attorney, Judith S. Stainbrook, said after yesterday's sentencing. think he was mistreated by the task force. If they tell him he

can work off his charges, this shouldn't have even been in courtroom."

L Ms. Stainbrook said Cartwright plans to appeal his sentence.

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