Drug prosecutions get renewed focus

McCrone appoints Clary to handle `yeoman's share' of distribution cases

February 05, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Howard County State's Attorney Timothy J. McCrone has tapped a Circuit Court prosecutor as his point man for drug distribution cases, following through on a campaign promise to try to bring consistency to drug prosecutions.

Brendan Clary, a five-year veteran of the office, will handle the "yeoman's share" of the office's cases against drug dealers in the county, working with Howard police narcotics officers from the investigation stage through trial and sentencing, McCrone said this week.

In the process, the county's top prosecutor said, he expects his office to take a tougher approach in its sentencing recommendations, reversing what he said appeared to be "a certain lack of aggression" in recent years.

Unlike the proposal to create a drug court in the Howard District Courthouse by fall - a concept aimed at drug users in an attempt to prevent them from committing more crimes - Clary's efforts will target dealers, McCrone said.

"There's a very direct connection between drug distribution and crimes of violence in Howard County," he said. " ... Unfortunately, people who make a living in that area are prone to violence."

Clary, 31, has done general felony prosecutions in Circuit Court for three years and handles the office's arson cases.

"I'm looking forward to something new and different," he said yesterday. The investigative piece will be key, he said. "I think there's a value to working a case through from its inception."

During his campaign against Republican Robert R. Tousey last fall, McCrone offered plans to resurrect a drug prosecution team like the one he led during a tenure as an assistant Howard state's attorney more than a decade ago.

Under his predecessor, Marna L. McLendon, drug distribution cases were split among the office's attorneys.

Whether Clary's new efforts will expand to include a "team" of drug prosecutors is uncertain, McCrone said. He said he plans to monitor the drug caseload to determine whether it is becoming too "burdensome" for one attorney.

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