ELKTON — A man caught in downtown Rising Sun with nearly 100 baggies of heroin mixed with fentanyl and other contraband — moments after making a drug sale — has received a five-year prison term.
Retired Cecil County Circuit Court Judge V. Michael Whelan imposed a 10-year sentence on the defendant, Benjamin Stonewall Harrison, 38, of Rising Sun, on Wednesday and then suspended half of the penalty. Moments earlier, Harrison had pleaded guilty to possession of heroin/fentanyl with intent to distribute, as part of a plea deal in which prosecutors, in exchange, dismissed several related drugs charges.
The judge ordered Harrison to serve three years of supervised probation, after completing his five-year term in a Maryland Department of Corrections prison.
The sentence imposed by Whelan matched a recommendation made by Assistant State’s Attorney Stuart Welch, who had negotiated the plea agreement with Harrison’s panel public defender, Kevin B. Urick.
Harrison was arrested at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2020, after MPO. Daniel Stickney of the Rising Sun Police Department spotted a white Kia in the rear parking lot of the Bottom of the Hill Tavern in the 300 block of West Main Street, police said. The presence of the vehicle “stood out because Bottom of the Hill Tavern” was closed for business, police added.
Stickney also noticed a couple standing near that Kia, according to court records, which further indicate that the officer was familiar with the man and the woman because of their “numerous encounters” with the RSPD for “their involvement in (drugs) and other criminal activity.”
The officer then identified the Kia driver as Harrison, as Harrison sped out of that parking lot after interacting with the couple, police said. Stickney, who also was familiar with Harrison through “previous contact” with him, was aware that Harrison had a suspended driver’s license, police added.
Stickney stopped Harrison in the 200 block of West Main Street and, while talking to him outside the Kia, he noticed an odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle and saw a pill lying on the center console, police reported.
After RSPD Chief Francis “Chip” Peterson arrived on scene to assist, Stickney conducted a probable-cause search of the Kia, police said. The officer found and confiscated 98 baggies holding heroin/fentanyl and bearing an “Oh, Yeah,” street brand stamp, police added.
The original charging document indicated that investigators seized other evidence, too, including three plastic baggies containing suspect crystal methamphetamine, one bag holding suspect cocaine and two baggies of suspect marijuana.
During a police interview after his arrest, Harrison admitted to selling heroin for $70 to the couple during their pre-arranged meeting in the rear parking lot of the Bottom of the Hill Tavern, according to the original charging document.
Harrison, who cooperated with investigators, also admitted that he had other drugs inside a safe at the area motel where he was staying, including Ecstasy, meth and “roughly 10 more bundles of heroin,” according to that original charging document. Those charging papers further alleged that Cecil County Drug Task Force agents later confiscated those specified drugs from that motel safe.