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New assistant state's attorney takes reins

October 22, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Former Prince George's County, Md., prosecutor Daniel R. Bell has tried a slew of misdemeanor cases during the past few years, but the new Washington County assistant state's attorney said he looks forward to his role at the county Narcotics Task Force, where he will try his hand at taking felony drug cases to court.

Drugs are "a terrible problem, not just in Maryland, but in the country," said Bell, 38, who lives in Gaithersburg, Md., with his wife and two daughters.

Bell, a 1996 graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, worked for about the past 18 months as an assistant state's attorney in Prince George's County, handling mostly misdemeanor cases at the county District Court. Before that, Bell moved up the ranks in the Montgomery County (Md.) State's Attorney's Office, from working at the law library to working as an assistant state's attorney.

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He assumed his new duties here Monday, filling a spot at The Washington County Narcotics Task Force left vacant in July when former assistant state's attorney Joseph Michael was promoted to deputy state's attorney.

State's Attorney Charles Strong said, "We were surprised and very pleased to get Dan Bell as a prosecutor. ... The task force has special needs in terms of prosecutors, and he fills that need. He has the prosecution experience, desire and intensity."

Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson, supervising attorney at the task force, said that Bell will work with him on the county's Narcotics Nuisance Abatement Program, an initiative started four years ago to target landlords who allow drug activity in their buildings, and with the prosecution of felony drug cases, about 300 of which are brought to court each year.

Wilson said he frequently accompanies task force agents when they perform search warrants. Bell said he is excited about doing the same thing.

"I think it's going to be a real eye-opener," he said, adding that he hasn't had opportunities to do such field work. "Most attorneys are limited to working in the office or in the courtroom."

Wilson said that going out to places under investigation is invaluable when the case is brought to court.

"It's a lot easier going to court knowing what it looked like inside," he said.

Bell was hired with an annual salary of $47,592, County Attorney Richard Douglas said.

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