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Judge's son charged in drug case

October 31, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

A Frederick County circuit judge's son, charged with numerous drug-related offenses, remained in the Washington County Detention Center Thursday, according to officials.

Howard Russell Stepler III, 19, the son of Frederick County Circuit Judge Mary Ann Stepler, was being held on $100,000 bond following his arrest Wednesday, officials said.

Howard Stepler, of 3702 Clear Run Place, Rohrersville, was arrested at his home along with a 15-year-old boy, according to charging documents in Washington County Circuit Court.

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Howard Stepler was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine, and distribution of cocaine and marijuana.

He also was charged with two counts of possession of marijuana, three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count each of possession of "Ecstasy," possession of cocaine and maintaining a common nuisance.

Authorities seized suspected marijuana, several bongs for smoking marijuana, and nine red pills believed to be methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as Ecstasy, according to police.

The 15-year-old was charged with possession of marijuana, obstructing and hindering police and maintaining a common nuisance, police said.

Trooper 1st Class Jeff Hewett said the 15-year-old was released to the custody of his mother.

Authorities would not identify the juvenile.

During a bond review hearing Thursday, Washington County District Judge Ralph France kept bond at $100,000 for Howard Stepler.

"I requested that the bond remain the same because of the seriousness of the charges," said Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Mark Wolfe.

A check Thursday of Howard Stepler's background turned up no prior offenses, Wolfe said.

Attorney Mary Anne Day, who practices in Frederick and Washington counties, appeared with Howard Stepler for the bond review.

Efforts to reach Day were unsuccessful.

In July, information about the distribution of drugs from a basement apartment at the Rohrersville home reached police, according to allegations contained in court records.

Several controlled buys were made from the residence by confidential informants and undercover police officers, court records said.

An undercover police officer allegedly bought marijuana from Howard Stepler on Aug. 26, court records said.

On Oct. 10, arrangements were made between a confidential informant and Howard Stepler's brother for the purchase of cocaine from the residence, court records alleged.

Members of the Maryland State Police, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Tri-State Task Force and the Washington County Narcotics Task Force obtained and executed a search warrant Wednesday based on the information gathered from the ongoing investigation.

Judge Stepler does not live at the Rohrersville address. She didn't return telephone calls Thursday afternoon.

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