Ex-teacher pleads guilty in drug case

He could receive 10 years for methamphetamine pickup attempt

April 14, 2006|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

A former Howard County social studies teacher pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine after he accepted drugs worth $50,000 from a middleman working with federal drug enforcement agents.

Baltimore County police arrested and charged Timothy W. Hartlove in late September before the case was referred to federal authorities. Gary S. Bernstein, Hartlove's attorney, said yesterday that federal sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence about 10 years for his client.

"This guy came from one of the hardest backgrounds you will ever find," Bernstein said. "If you saw what happened to him as a teenager, you would have expected to be here in court at age 18. It's a wonder how he turned into such an unbelievable teacher."

He added that Hartlove was a drug addict who is now receiving treatment. "He didn't make a cent off this," Bernstein said.

U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis accepted Hartlove's guilty plea but ordered that the agreement should be kept secret, according to prosecutors.

Normally such agreements are available after the court hearing. Court papers showed that the 35-year-old teacher at River Hill High School in Clarksville was arrested after he tried to retrieve a 1.1-pound package authorities believed contained methamphetamine in Baltimore County.

School officials confirmed yesterday that Hartlove, who was also the faculty sponsor for the debate team and the Gay Straight Alliance, has been fired.

The investigation started when a Baltimore police detective spotted a suspicious package intended for Robin Southall, 57, of Baltimore County, court papers said.

Investigators said they found drugs inside and used an undercover delivery person to bring the package to Southall's Baltimore office. Southall accepted the drug-filled parcel and police arrested him, court papers said.

Southall was also charged with drug possession and pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to the same charge as Hartlove. Authorities said Southall told police that he was accepting the package for Hartlove. He agreed to call Hartlove and lure him to his home, according to court papers.

Police arrested Hartlove when he entered the house. Authorities searched Hartlove's Baltimore home and found methamphetamine, marijuana, the club drug Ecstasy, the odorless date-rape drug known as GHB and about $16,500 in cash locked inside a safe, according to court papers.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

Sun reporter John-John Williams IV contributed to this article.

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