Imprisoned man, wife sentenced on drug charges

May 05, 1994|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore man already serving a federal prison term for major heroin trafficking was sentenced yesterday in Indiana to an additional 17 years for conspiring with his wife to smuggle narcotics into one of America's toughest prisons.

Michael Leroy Barnes, 39, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney in Indianapolis after he had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.

At the time of sentencing, Barnes already was serving a 17-year sentence after being arrested in 1991 in Baltimore with three-quarters of a kilogram of cocaine and a handgun. Barnes' sentence will be served consecutively with the earlier term, Judge McKinney said.

His wife, Cheryl Denise Barnes, 37, of Pikesville, also was sentenced yesterday by the judge for her role in the drug distribution. Mrs. Barnes received two eight-year federal jail terms after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and possessing more than 2 pounds of cocaine and a handgun.

The drugs and weapon were confiscated in a raid by federal drug agents at her apartment last August.

A federal investigative source said Barnes, who has been imprisoned at Terre Haute since 1991, distributed narcotics to other inmates with help from his wife.

The maximum-security prison holds 1,500 inmates, many of them organized crime figures and drug traffickers. The federal source said many of those prisoners "had lots of time on their hands and a large appetite for heroin and cocaine."

The source said the wife visited Barnes and passed drug-filled balloons to him while they kissed.

Cheryl Barnes also mailed her husband narcotics, sometimes in the lining of clothing, the source said, and sometimes sold heroin to the relatives of other inmates.

At the time of his 1991 arrest, Barnes was described as a lieutenant for Robert B. Dowdy, a major drug violator who was convicted after his street business was smashed by federal agents.

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