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Falling Waters man pleads guilty to distribution of hydrocodone

February 03, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A West Virginia man who pleaded guilty Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to selling three pills to a confidential informant two years ago was sentenced to four years in prison.

Ronald Allen Malone, 47, of Falling Waters, W.Va., pleaded guilty to distribution of hydrocodone in exchange for the dismissal of another distribution count and two possession-of-narcotics charges.

An informant with the Washington County Narcotics Task Force purchased two hydrocodone pills and a Valium from Malone in the parking lot of McDonald's in Williamsport on April 30, 2009, according to Robert Veil, the supervising attorney for the task force.

Malone had been in a car accident two weeks before his arrest, which resulted in him being prescribed painkillers, defense attorney Bernard W.  Semler II told Judge John H. McDowell.

The informant had been calling "continuously for two weeks" before Malone agreed to sell him painkillers.

The accident had also caused Malone to lose his job, and he was living out of his car at the time he sold the pills, Semler said. Malone, who had been sending money back to his family in Delaware, only had 96 cents on him — other than the $25 for the pills — when he was arrested, Semler said.

Half a dozen of Malone's family members from Delaware were present in the courtroom, and his sister and stepdaughter asked McDowell to be lenient.

Malone could have refused to sell drugs to the informant, or asked his family for help in getting back to Delaware, McDowell said.

While Malone had no criminal convictions in a decade, Veil recounted about 20 convictions, mostly for misdemeanors, between 1986 and 2000 in Delaware and Virginia.

When McDowell asked why the case had taken so long to bring to court, Veil said Malone had left the courthouse on Dec. 8, 2009, when a plea agreement in the case was about to be reached.

A bench warrant was issued in Washington County at the time, as well as in Baltimore County, where Malone failed to appear in court on Dec. 10, 2009, for a driving under the influence charge, according to court records.

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