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Judge hopes message sent by one-year sentence

By JEFF NEWMANStaff writer

A Charles County judge sentenced a Henry E. Lackey High School student to a year in prison Thursday for conspiring to deal drugs, Charles County State’s Attorney Anthony B. Covington reported.

James Cameron Taylor, 19, of Bryans Road was arrested Sept. 1 after a teacher noticed he smelled like marijuana and sent him to the school principal’s office, where Taylor was found to have $230 in cash and 12 baggies of marijuana worth an approximate $60.

Taylor was indicted Oct. 7 on counts of possession with intent to distribute drugs on school property, conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to distribute and marijuana possession, according to online court records. He pleaded guilty Feb. 17 to conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

At Taylor’s sentencing hearing, Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney John A. Stackhouse urged Circuit Judge Helen I. Harrington to impose a stiff sentence, saying that the county prosecutors take “drug dealing at school very seriously.”

Harrington sentenced Taylor to five years in prison, four of them suspended, and three years of supervised probation upon completion of his active one-year jail term.

She expressed hope that the sentence would send a message that dealing drugs would not be tolerated in county schools, and Covington (D) agreed.

“Even though this defendant had no prior criminal record, the Court’s sentence is absolutely appropriate,” he said in a press release. “Many of my family members are educators. So I am very sensitive to any behavior that disrupts the education of our youth. Obviously, drug dealing in schools does that. I hope that anyone paying attention gets the very clear message that in this county all three pillars of the law enforcement triad — the police, prosecutors and judges — are going to protect our schools from drugs and drug dealing. We’re not just talking about it. We’re doing it.”