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Guard faces heroin charge

December 01, 2000

Guard faces heroin charge



By MARLO BARNHART And DAN KULIN / Staff Writers


A Maryland Correctional Training Center officer accused of distributing heroin in the prison said Friday he is innocent and was snared in an undercover sting that would have caught anyone.

Ronald Eugene Martin, 47, of 15807 Fairview Road, Hagerstown, was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia.

According to charging documents in Washington County District Court, Martin was arrested Nov. 15 after accepting a cup containing heroin and $200 in cash from an undercover police officer at the Pilot Travel Center on Md. 63 near Hopewell Road.

Martin, who was released Monday from the Washington County Detention Center after posting a $50,000 bond, faces up to 24 years in prison if convicted.

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Hagerstown Police Sgt. Rick Johnson, director of the Narcotics Task Force, would not comment on Martin's allegation that he was set up.

DEA Agent Dave Miller, also with the task force, referred all questions to the State's Attorney's Office.

In an interview Friday, Martin said he did not know what was in the cup when it was handed to him. Martin said he went to the travel center because someone had called his home and told him they had a package for him.

"I am not guilty of taking drugs into the institution. ... I have never dealt with drugs in my life," said Martin, a correctional dietary officer at the medium security prison south of Hagerstown.

According to the charging documents, in early November the DEA Hagerstown Task Force received information that an MCTC inmate had received drugs smuggled into the prison by Martin.

The charging documents state that Lt. Wayne Webb, an MCTC investigator, learned the inmate's associates would contact Martin by telephone at his home and arrange drug deliveries into the prison. Martin's fee for delivering the drugs was $200, the documents state.

Martin said Friday that he did not know the inmate to whom he is accused of supplying drugs. The inmate is identified in the charging documents as Devone Raphael Pollard.

On Nov. 9, an undercover agent called Martin and arranged to meet him to "drop something off to him," the court documents state.

Martin said at that time he thought he was talking to the brother of an inmate he knows who had asked him to pick up some shorts and a couple of compact discs the inmate's brother was bringing to Hagerstown.

Martin would not name the inmate but said he told investigators about him.

On Nov. 15 at 3:28 p.m. undercover agents called Martin again and arrangements were made for the officer to go to Martin's home with a package and the money, court documents state.

According to the documents, the undercover police officer said, "I'm on the way up with that package and money," and Martin gave the officer directions to his home.

About 6:52 p.m., the undercover officer called Martin again to say he was lost and was at the Pilot Travel Center.

Martin said Friday that he could hardly understand the person on the other end of the line in the Nov. 15 calls and assumed it was the brother of the inmate he knew. He said he asked the person where he was and then went to meet him.

The undercover officer had three grams of heroin and 25 grams of flour mixed to resemble heroin. That mixture and the $200 was placed in a cup to be delivered to Martin, court documents state.

Martin said when he arrived at the travel center a man approached him, handed him a cup and said, "Here's your (stuff)."

"Then he started talking about how down in the city they like their heroin whole. I thought, 'Uh oh, I'm in trouble here.' I was scared," Martin said.

Martin said he thought it might be a drug sale and the man who gave him the cup had the wrong guy.

"I didn't know if I should drop the cup or hand it back to him. I just thought I had to get out of there quick. ... The only thing I thought was to get out of there without getting shot," Martin said.

Martin said he went to his truck so he could leave. He still had the cup and said he was going to get rid of it after leaving. He said he never looked in the cup.

Martin was arrested when he got into his truck.

Martin's account of the events dispute that of the charging documents on several points.

The documents state there was a discussion between the undercover officer and Martin about providing raw heroin in the future rather than the mixed variety. The officer then handed the cup containing the heroin mix and the money to Martin, who was taken into custody as soon as he accepted it, the documents state.

Dave Towers, public information officer for the Maryland Division of Correction, said Friday that Martin has been "recommended for personnel action/termination."

Towers said Martin began working at MCTC in August 1989.

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