SNOW HILL -- The next wave of cases following the break-up of a major heroin distribution ring in northern Worcester County last fall hit the courts this week with varying results including some hefty sentences for some defendants.
In late November, the Ocean City Police Department rounded up 26 suspects wanted in connection with a major heroin distribution ring after a Worcester County grand jury issued indictments for the suspects. The OCPD Vice-Narcotics Unit for several weeks had been conducting an aggressive and extensive undercover illegal drug investigation involving multiple suspects throughout Ocean City called “Operation Smackdown.”
The investigation was initiated by the department due to an overwhelming increase in heroin abuse in the resort area during the past year. The investigation resulted in 72 drug buys of heroin, cocaine, illegal prescription medications and marijuana, although the majority of the drug purchases involved heroin.
In November, OCPD narcotics detectives went before a Worcester County grand jury and were able to obtain indictments on 23 suspects for various drug distribution charges. OCPD arrested additional wanted suspects as a result of the indictments. In all, 26 suspects were arrested, three vehicles were seized and 110 bags of heroin were confiscated, along with five bags of cocaine, five replica handguns and $656 in cash.
The second wave of court cases for defendants arrested following “Operation Smackdown” hit the Worcester County Circuit Court this week with several of the defendants convicted or accepting plea bargains in their cases.
For example, Shelly Brittingham, 41, of Delmar, pleaded guilty to distribution of oxycodone and was sentenced to seven years with all but 18 months suspended. She was also placed on probation for three years and fined $500. Jennifer Adams, 36, of Ocean City, also pleaded guilty to distribution of oxycodone and was sentenced to 10 years. James Glenn, Jr., 22, of Berlin, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and was sentenced to eight years in jail with all but three suspended. Glenn was also placed on probation for three years and fined $500.
Last week, Michael Helmbright, 41, of Ocean City, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of heroin and was sentenced to 10 years, all but five years of which was then suspended. Helmbright was also fined $500 and placed on probation for two years upon his release.
Christopher Fitzpatrick, 32, of Ocean City, pleaded guilty to distribution of oxycodone and was sentenced to four years in jail with all but one suspended. Fitzpatrick was also fined $500 and placed on probation for two years. Erik Curry, 41, of Berlin, pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin and was sentenced to seven years, all but 18 months of which was suspended. Tori DeCelles, 21, of Ocean City, pleaded guilty last week to distribution of heroin and was sentenced to seven years, all but six years of which was suspended. DeCelles was fined $500, but was also placed on probation for five years pending her release. Several other cases were docketed for late this week and throughout the late winter and early spring.
Pot Growing Charges Dropped
SNOW HILL -- A Bishopville man arrested in August on multiple drug charges after the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team allegedly discovered a vast marijuana-growing operation on his property had the charges against him dropped this week in Circuit Court.
On Aug. 10, the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team executed a search and seizure warrant at a residence in Bishopville relating to a marijuana cultivation investigation being conducted jointly with the Delaware State Police Sussex Drug Unit. As a result of the search, a total of 67 marijuana plants were located in a wooded area adjacent to the residence.
The plants ranged in height from one foot to eight feet. Other evidence collected during the execution of the search and seizure warrant linked a suspect, identified as Jason Vermillion, 32, of Bishopville, to the marijuana plants. A search of Vermillion’s residence turned up 38 grams of marijuana, numerous items of paraphernalia and multiple firearms.
Vermillion was arrested and charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. This week, Vermillion had the charges against him “nolle prossed,” or not prosecuted.
Wal-Mart Theft Arrest
BERLIN -- A Stockton woman was arrested on several theft charges this week after an investigation revealed she allegedly swiped thousands of dollars from the Wal-Mart in Berlin where she was employed.
On Monday, a Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputy was dispatched to the Wal-Mart on Route 50 for a reported theft by an employee, later identified as Tykia Taylor, 20, of Stockton. The investigation revealed Taylor allegedly stole money from the Wal-Mart on eight separate occasions and the total amount stolen came to $3,144.
Taylor was arrested and charged with theft scheme from $1,000 to $10,000, two counts of theft from $1,000 to $10,000, four counts of theft less than $1,000 and two counts of theft less than $100. She was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was released on a $5,000 secured bond.
Arrest In Domestic Incident
WEST OCEAN CITY -- A Delmar man was arrested on multiple charges this week after a domestic incident at a West Ocean City motel.
Last Sunday, Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies and Maryland State Police responded to the Francis Scott Key Motel in West Ocean City for a reported domestic incident. Police arrived and both parties involved in the incident were separated as arrangements were made for separate rides.
While waiting for their rides, one of the combatants, identified as William Thomas, 31, of Delmar, confronted the female victim again after being told not to do so by police. Thomas allegedly came after the female victim after being told to stay away again. Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputies attempted to place Thomas under arrest at that point, but he resisted their efforts. He was eventually subdued without further incident.
Thomas was charged with failure to obey a lawful order and resisting arrest. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was released on his own recognizance.
Stabbing Leads To Crack
SALISBURY -- A Salisbury man was arrested on first-degree assault and other serious charges last weekend after allegedly stabbing another man during an incident when three others were arrested on drug charges.
Around 2:25 a.m. last Friday, Salisbury Police responded to PRMC for a reported stabbing. The investigation revealed the unidentified victim had just returned to his residence on Wailes Street from a bar when he became engaged in an argument with suspect who lived at the same residence. During the argument, the suspect, later identified as Michael Lee McCrae Carter, 27, of Salisbury, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed the victim in the arm.
The victim was treated and released from PRMC. Carter was charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, wearing and carrying a weapon with intent to injure and numerous drug charges. While searching for the weapon, Salisbury Police also located crack cocaine in the residence and three other suspects were arrested. Among those arrested were Kizzy Lashawn Moorman, 30; Carlon Demonte Palmer, 33; and Trey Cooper, 29, all of Salisbury.