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Man gets three years for heroin possession

May 28, 2010

A Hagerstown man was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to possession with intent to distribute heroin.

Robert Joseph Zellner, 23, of 438 E. Washington St., was sentenced by Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley to eight years in prison with five of those years suspended. Beachley ordered that Zellner be placed on probation for another three years after his release from prison.

A related charge of possession of heroin was dismissed as part of the plea agreement, according to court records.

At 12:33 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2009, Zellner was driving a car that was stopped by Hagerstown Police for going through a red light at the intersection of West Washington Street and Nottingham Road, the statement of probable cause said. After the officer issued a written warning for the traffic violation, he asked Zellner if he could search him and his vehicle, the statement said.

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Zellner consented, and the officer found a dozen packets of heroin in his pants pocket, along with $562, the statement of probable cause said.

Zellner's attorney, Bernard Semler, said the heroin was for his client's own use, not to sell. He asked Beachley to impose a shorter sentence than the five years recommended by the State's Attorney's Office.

Beachley agreed the recommendation was "a little on the heavy side" for someone without a previous felony conviction.

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