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Drug dealers' host handed jail

August 22, 2000

Drug dealers' host handed jail



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


Allowing drug dealers and drug deals in her downtown apartment resulted in jail time Tuesday for a Hagerstown woman.

Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone sentenced Priscilla Louise McDonald, 42, to five years in prison.

McDonald pleaded guilty to maintaining a common nuisance at her 31 E. Washington St. apartment. Charges of possession and possession with intent to distribute marijuana were dropped in exchange for the plea.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Joe Michael said McDonald was a "host" to drug dealers and as such the target of a new tactic by drug agents.

When agents knocked on the door of her apartment March 2, Priscilla McDonald opened it. The smell of marijuana was in the air, according to court records.

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Scales on a table, marijuana cigars, baggies of crack cocaine, additional drugs, a loaded .380-caliber handgun and a .38-caliber semiautomatic handgun also were found in the apartment, court records said.

Also in the apartment that day was Teddy Guillermo, who had four grams of crack and the loaded .380-caliber handgun in his possession, court records said.

Guillermo, also known as Teddy Williams, 19, pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of crack cocaine as a repeat offender and possession of a firearm.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

In a recent interview, Michael said going after hosts like McDonald is an example of a new method of fighting drug dealers in Washington County.

"Historically, police and narcotics agents have concentrated on street level drug dealing because it's such a big problem," Michael said in the interview.

As a result, many dealers have gone indoors and are selling to established clients.

"Street dealers are also storing their drugs in dwellings it's harder to get at them that way," Michael said.

Another "guest" in the McDonald apartment March 2 was sentenced to four years in prison recently, Michael said.

The crime of maintaining a common nuisance carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The nuisance can be a house, an apartment, or a vehicle, Michael said.

A car bought to facilitate drug dealing or bought with drug profits could result in criminal charges against the owner, Michael said.

More commonly, a crack addict will allow a drug dealer to use a car for one night in exchange for crack, Michael said. The owner could be charged with common nuisance if the car is seized during a transaction.

"We will give notice the first time," Michael said, noting banks holding loans for those cars will be notified.

"If used again, then the owner will be liable," Michael said.

It is not uncommon for crack addicts to allow dealers to live with them. The addict is supplied with drugs and the dealer gets a place to sell to others.

Michael said the Hagerstown Housing Authority has been helpful when the apartment being used for drugs is one of theirs.

"They often evict at the time of the first offense," Michael said.

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