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Imprisoned woman gives birth to girl

January 20, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A baby was born Wednesday to an imprisoned Greencastle, Pa., woman convicted in September of stealing more than $23,000 from a Hagerstown travel agency she managed, prompting her attorney to file a petition for her early release.

"The strong desire that Nature and Nature's God has placed in the mother to be with her baby is all for the best interest of the baby," according to the petition calling for the release of Rebecca Calimer Price.

Price, who is serving her sentence at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women-Jessup, gave birth to Hannah Elizabeth Moats on Wednesday at 3:01 a.m., according to her attorney, R. Martin Palmer.

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Palmer, who filed the petition in Washington County Circuit Court, requested that Price be brought "directly before the court upon her release from Laurel Hospital," prior to her return to prison, so her sentence may be reconsidered "in the best interest of the minor child."

Price, 31, was sentenced in September to five years in prison on a five-count felony theft conviction. She was convicted of stealing more than $23,000 from clients of the now-defunct CW Travel Inc. of Hagerstown in late 1999 and early 2000.

She was charged in an indictment filed Dec. 2, 2003.

A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18 in Washington County Circuit Court on a motion to modify her sentence, according to court records.

Palmer said in the petition that Price and Hannah will soon be separated, denying "the baby and mother an opportunity for bonding, so important to the baby's mental and physical well-being."

Palmer said Wednesday that the baby's maternal grandmother likely will take the baby if Price is not released from prison.

Defend Life, a Baltimore-based anti-abortion group, protested at the Maryland State House on Jan. 12 for Price's early release. The group contends that Price's sentence was unjust and that she is being prevented from spending time with her new baby because she doesn't qualify for a pregnant prisoner program open to drug addicts, Jack Ames, director and founder of the group, said previously.

Arielle Hinton, deputy counsel to Gov. Robert Ehrlich, said Wednesday that the governor was "dealing with" the issues involving Price's case. "What he does not want to do is intervene in the judiciary process," she said.

The Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy recommended that Price be sentenced either to probation or to two years and six months in prison. In a court document, Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley cited his reasons for going outside sentencing guidelines, including: "Substantial economic loss (regarding the victims and) little remorse or recognition of wrongdoing."

He suspended 11 years of a 16-year prison sentence.

The maximum penalty in Maryland for a conviction on one count of felony theft is 15 years.

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