Woman sentenced as kingpin

June 09, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

A 53-year-old Joppa woman convicted as a cocaine kingpin was sentenced yesterday to 75 years in state prison with all but 20 years suspended.

Judge Stephen M. Waldron ordered the defendant, Isabel Velez of the 1800 block of Shirley Ave., to serve the 20 years without the possibility of parole.

Velez could have received as many as 40 years on the drug kingpin charge alone, said prosecutor H. Scott Lewis.

Velez continued to say through a Spanish interpreter yesterday that she was innocent.

But the jury that convicted her after a nine-day trial in April deliberated only three hours before finding her guilty on the kingpin conspiracy charge.

She also was convicted on four counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to bring cocaine into the state, conspiracy to distribute cocaine in a school zone, maintaining a common nuisance and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

She was indicted by a grand jury in March 1992 with 17 other people, including her daughter, Rosemarie Cooper, and two sons, Rafael and Luis.

All but two of them pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. The two who did not plead guilty entered Alford pleas, which means they did not admit guilt but conceded that the prosecution had sufficient evidence to convict them.

Evidence at Velez's trial indicated that during a three-month investigation by the Harford County Joint Narcotics Task Force, more than 2,700 telephone calls were made to the defendant's residence.

Undercover officers testified that the word "cocaine" was never mentioned in any recorded telephone conversation to and from the Velez home, but that repeated references to "tickets," "tires," "rims" and "pants" in those calls referred to buying and selling cocaine.

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