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City man gets 10 years in drug, police chase case

July 29, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN --A Hagerstown man charged with drug offenses and leading police on a car chase through the city last November was sentenced Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to 10 years in state prison.

Lawrence T.E. Epps, 35, of 250 S. Burhans Blvd., pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine before Judge John H. McDowell. He had been charged with selling $150 worth of crack cocaine to an informant with the Washington County Narcotics Task Force on Nov. 30, 2009, according to the application for statement of charges.

Immediately after the sale to the informant, task force agents approached the van Epps was driving and tried to box him in with their vehicles, the application for statement of charges said. Epps drove toward one task force vehicle, forcing the agent to swerve to avoid a collision, the statement said.

The van fled through the city, running traffic signals and nearly hitting other vehicles, the application for statement of charges said. The pursuit involved the Hagerstown Police Department, Washington County Sheriff's Department and Maryland State Police and continued out of Hagerstown toward Funkstown, the statement said.

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While on Alternate U.S. 40, police broke off the chase, the statement said. The van police were pursuing belonged to a woman who told police Epps had come by her house to visit his children and took it without her permission.

Epps remained at large until Feb. 5, when Hagerstown police pulled over a vehicle in which Epps was a passenger, the application for statement of charges said. Epps gave officers two false names before disclosing his real name, the statement said.

Police also found drugs in the vehicle, the statement said.

In exchange for his plea, Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler said the state was dismissing charges of possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, second-degree assault, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Pauler said the state also was dismissing charges of possession of narcotics, possession with intent to distribute narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia, making false statements to police, and obstructing and hindering police in the Feb. 5 incident.

Epps' criminal record included drug distribution convictions in Frederick County in 1999 and 2003, and a narcotics possession conviction in Washington County in 2007, Pauler said.

Epps, who did not have a lawyer, told McDowell that his record "makes me look like a bad person, which I'm not."

"Your record is atrocious," said McDowell, who told Epps that his past criminal record could have resulted in a 25-year mandatory sentence had the state pursued that option.

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