Man sentenced for cocaine distribution and conspiracy

April 04, 2001

Man sentenced for cocaine distribution and conspiracy


A Washington County Circuit judge handed two 20-year prison terms to a Hagerstown man Tuesday for cocaine distribution and conspiracy convictions.

Jason Louis Smith, 25, of West Washington Street, was convicted in February on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The two sentences are to be served concurrently and without the possibility of parole for the first 10 years, said Circuit Judge John H. McDowell.

Each count carried a mandatory 10-year minimum prison sentence because Smith was a two-time offender.

"Apparently you've learned very little about keeping away from the drug trade and crimes," McDowell told Smith.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Joe Michael tried unsuccessfully to have Smith sentenced as a three-time offender, but McDowell said Smith did not meet the criteria.


Conviction on a third related offense would have carried a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

To be sentenced as a three-time offender a defendant must have been convicted twice before of a related crime and have served at least 180 days in jail or prison.

Smith had not served 180 days on a prior conviction, McDowell said.

Smith had served 172 days in the Washington County Detention Center on a prior conviction and had been sentenced to five years in prison for violating probation, according to court records. Smith was in prison for about 16 months on the parole violation before being released on parole, court records state.

McDowell said a probation violation was not the same as a conviction.

Probation violations are technically a civil matter in which the preponderance of evidence is considered, McDowell said. In criminal matters, the defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In June 1996, Smith was convicted of distribution of cocaine and sentenced to seven years in prison with credit for the 172 days served and the remaining time suspended, according to court records.

He was convicted in July 1998 for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and given a 10-year suspended sentence, court records state.

Smith also was convicted in Baltimore of possession of an illegal drug with intent to distribute, Michael said.

McDowell denied a motion by Frederick, Md., defense attorney Stephen A. Glessner for a new trial.

Glessner said a witness - and co-defendant - in Smith's trial exercised his Fifth Amendment right not to testify, but Glessner submitted a letter signed by the witness stating he wanted to testify to Smith's innocence. The witness has not stood trial yet.

Michael said another witness of similar credibility testified in the trial to Smith's innocence but the jury found Smith guilty of the August 2000 drug offenses.

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