Man's drug sentence is suspended

Judge says assistance to prosecutors a factor

June 30, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County man, who pleaded guilty in November to cocaine distribution charges, received a suspended 20-year prison sentence yesterday because he helped prosecutors convict several drug dealers.

Tyrone Wilford, 34, was arrested in August after law enforcement authorities began cracking down on an open-air drug market on Westminster's west side. Known as Operation Sullivan, the crackdown led to 60 arrests on drug-related charges.

According to the plea bargain, Wilford agreed to testify against other drug dealers.

In return, he was allowed to be released and was monitored through a detention center pre-trial release program so he could be home to help care for his wife, who was seriously injured in a car accident last year. In addition, prosecutors recommended his sentence be deferred until Wilford could have the opportunity to testify against others, including Darrell Long and Marvin Powell.

"The only reason Darrell Long agreed to plead guilty and get a 50-year sentence was because he knew we had Tyrone Wilford ready to testify against him," Jerry F. Barnes, Carroll state's attorney, said.

Powell also entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 25 years without parole, Barnes noted.

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. had accepted the plea bargain, and told Wilford yesterday that the state's recommendation for a suspended sentence was "pretty significant."

"These were not the type people you would want to invite to a pool party, and you took a substantial risk in what you did," Beck said.

Barnes said Wilford was the first state's witness he had ever helped relocate to avoid possible revenge from those against whom Wilford was going to testify.

Wilford thanked Beck for giving him a second chance and apologized to the "community of Westminster for selling drugs."

After suspending the 20-year sentence, Beck placed Wilford on five years of probation, adding a special condition that he submit to random drug testing. If Wilford violates probation, the full 20-year term could be imposed, Beck said.

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