10-name dealer foils ID

March 17, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

10-name dealer foils ID

When an out-of-state drug dealer went before a judge for sentencing a few weeks ago, police, prosecutors and the judge were not sure who he was.

The man, who was sentenced to 34 years in prison, presented authorities with 10 aliases, 10 sets of Social Security numbers and a choice of six dates of birth.

Such a problem is not uncommon, according to Sgt. Charles Summers, director of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force.

"We're having lots of difficulty with fake names and dates of birth," Summers said.

Another recent case involved a drug suspect who told police he was a juvenile from New York, spent two days in juvenile holdover and then said he was an adult.


"He was hoping to then be released on personal recognizance so he could flee back to New York, but he got a high bond," Summers said.

Then he claimed to be a juvenile again.

"Here you have generated a lot of paperwork, a lot of detective time wasted," Summers said.

But technology is starting to catch up, he said.

In the works is a new digital imaging system and database that involves a live scan of fingerprints.

"You put your fingers on a glass plate, the images go to the FBI and the results are back in half an hour," Summers said.

Police here still take prints the old-fashioned way and send them via high-resolution fax to the FBI fingerprint storage in Clarksburg, Md.

"That time loss has helped some people get away and we don't ever know who they were," Summers said.

He said police and drug agents have spoken with Washington County District Court judges and commissioners about the problem.

"We contact them and let them know they need to scrutinize," Summers said. "They are really cooperating" is cases in which people from out of the area face drug charges.

Out-of-towners facing drug charges continue to be from New York and Florida more often than not, and that was not lost on a visiting judge from Anne Arundel County who presided at bond review hearings on Monday.

After hearing more than three men say they were from New York, had no jobs nor real connections in Hagerstown, Judge Robert Wilcox said he was puzzled.

"What's the big attraction in Hagerstown?" Wilcox said. "I'm originally from New York and I don't understand why you are here."

One man asked for a low bond after revealing he was out on bond on a drug dealing charge at the time of his most recent arrest. Then it came out that he was on parole for a drug conviction.

When Wilcox set his bond at $100,000, the man walked out of the courtroom muttering obscenities.

Summers said 108 drug arrests have been made in Washington County as of March 12, just 2 1/2 months into 1998.

"We arrested 258 in all of 1997," Summers said.

In 1996, 196 drug arrests were made, and 145 in 1995, he said.

"It's not necessarily the dealing of the dope that's the most serious, it's the violence that comes with it," Summers said.

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