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Man sentenced for distribution of drugs

December 09, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

A Hagerstown man who dodged a drug distribution charge in 1997 wasn't so fortunate Tuesday when Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright sentenced him to 10 years in prison on an identical charge.

Shoney Rhett Reasner, 24, who has been in jail since May, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Additional charges of drug possession and traffic offenses were dropped in exchange for the plea.

It was Wright who threw out Reasner's prior drug distribution charge when he ruled in a July 1997 suppression hearing that Reasner had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his home.

In that case, Hagerstown City Police approached Reasner's home on a stairway leading to a back door while investigating an unrelated felony in October 1996. They looked in the window and saw drugs, court records said.

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When Reasner was apprehended that day, police confiscated $1,500 worth of cocaine, 107 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms, a quarter-pound of marijuana and $190 in cash, according to court records.

Former Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Andrew Kramer argued unsuccessfully in 1997 that all the drugs were in plain view, seen through a window from a common stairway.

Wright disagreed and threw out the evidence in the case.

Prosecutors didn't appeal Wright's decision and Reasner was released.

In the case heard Tuesday, Reasner was seen running a red light at Cannon Avenue and Franklin Street on May 9 at 2 a.m. by Hagerstown Police Officer Paul Kifer, according to Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Joe Michael.

A "slow speed" chase ensued and Reasner was stopped and found to be intoxicated, Michael said.

Kifer looked into the car and saw three bags of suspected cocaine on the console of the Mazda Protege, Michael said. Two more bags were found on the seat of the car and falling out of Reasner's pocket when a search was done.

Also found was $1,700 in cash, Michael said.

A later search of Reasner's apartment turned up $5,600 more in cash, which Reasner said Tuesday was the result of a gambling trip to Atlantic City.

But Michael pointed out that the money in the apartment was found hidden in Reasner's clothes.

"Mr. Reasner has a very supportive family," Michael said Tuesday. "But despite all that support, he has chosen to go this way."

Michael mentioned the 1997 case, noting that while it wasn't a conviction, it certainly showed that Reasner "doesn't learn from his mistakes."

Reasner apologized to his family who attended the hearing Tuesday.

"I hope I can teach my son right from wrong when I get out," Reasner said, referring to his 3-year-old son.

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