BALTIMORE — A Port Deposit man whom investigators linked to guns, drugs and a non-fatal overdose has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Court Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced the defendant — Kenneth Matthew Clark Jr., 30 — to 52 months on Wednesday during a federal court hearing in Baltimore, prosecutors reported. That sentence translates to four years and four months of incarceration for Clark.
In June, as part of a plea deal, Clark pleaded guilty to narcotics conspiracy and felon in possession of a firearm. Chasanow accepted Clark’s guilty pleas during that proceeding.
The federal criminal case against Clark stems from a traffic stop that Dfc. Jonathan Douglas of the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office made at approximately 3:15 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2020 near the intersection of Cedar Corner Road and Perryville Road in Perryville, according to Cecil County District Court records.
Douglas stopped a 2008 Ford Taurus occupied by Clark, who was living in the unit block of Green Lane at the time, and a 28-year-old man for speeding and failure to obey a stop sign, those court documents show. Federal prosecutors identify Clark’s companion only as “Associate I.”
After the Taurus came to a stop, the deputy observed the car shake as Clark, who had been in the driver’s seat, and Associate I, who had been in the passenger’s seat, switched positions, prosecutors said. Associate I was able to provide Douglas with identification, but Clark, who informed the deputy that he did not possess a driver’s license, was unable to do so, prosecutors added.
“Clark then attempted to flee the scene by grabbing the gear shifter and commanding Associate 1 to drive. However, the car did not move. At that time, (Douglas) turned off the vehicle while Clark and Associate 1 ran on foot. The officer’s in-car video camera captured Clark holding a black semi-automatic handgun, as he exited the passenger side,” outlined Marcia Murphy, a USAO spokeswoman.
Law enforcement officers captured Clark and Associate I near the area of the traffic stop a short time later.
Investigators returned to the area where they believed Clark had discarded his weapon, while running away, and they recovered a .22 caliber LR handgun with 11 live rounds in the magazine, prosecutors reported, noting that that weapon had been reported stolen earlier in February 2020.
“Clark knew that he was prohibited from possessing firearms due to previous felony convictions, including a 2016 conviction for second-degree assault in Cecil County Circuit Court,” Murphy said.
While searching the suspect vehicle, Douglas confiscated approximately six grams of marijuana and two cell phones after finding that evidence inside the passenger’s side door, prosecutors said. Douglas also seized a small plastic baggie containing about one gram of crack cocaine, after locating it on the floorboard where Clark had been seated, prosecutors added. In addition, Douglas found $1,802 in Clark’s possession and confiscated the cash, according to prosecutors.
Information contained in Clark’s federal plea agreement indicates that, also in February 2020, a “concerned citizen” contacted Maryland State Police to report that a man nicknamed “Man” possibly had been involved in cocaine transactions in Cecil County.
Murphy reported that “Man” is one of two aliases, or nicknames, that Clark used, listing “Play” as the other.
While investigating a non-fatal overdose in January 2020, MSP detectives identified Clark as the “likely source of the narcotics supply leading to the overdose,” according to Murphy, who explained, “Numerous messages downloaded from the victim’s cellular phone resolved to the phone number assigned to the phone in Clark’s possession at the time of his most recent arrest.”
Moreover, during that MSP investigation, detectives checked Clark’s public social media accounts and recovered several photos of Clark brandishing firearms, according to prosecutors. For example, on Feb. 13, 2020, Clark posted two public photographs of him holding a semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine, prosecutors said. In addition, prosecutors added, a subsequent review of Clark’s social media messages “revealed conversations regarding narcotic transactions.”
Also contained in Clark’s plea agreement, Clark made several phone calls to two associates while he was held on no bond at the Cecil County Detention Center after his Feb. 20, 2020 arrest relating to the traffic stop in Perryville. (Investigators are allowed to monitor inmate phone calls at CCDC.)
“During these conversations, Clark asked for them to retrieve several hidden items from his father’s residence. Clark also spoke in code terms while providing specific instructions on where to find the items. Over the course of the conversation, Clark instructed an associate and his father to remove potentially incriminating items from Clark’s room,” Murphy outlined.
On Feb. 28, 2020, eight days Clark’s arrest in Perryville, MSP detectives recovered a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, which matched the description of the firearm depicted in Clark’s social media pictures, during a search of an associate’s residence, prosecutors said. The associate told law enforcement officers that he obtained the firearm from Clark, prosecutors added.
Cecil County District Court records indicate that Douglas filed 12 criminal charges against Clark, after arresting him in Perryville on Feb. 20, 2020. Of those charges, only one of them — possession of a firearm by a convicted felon — was a felony, court records show.
Court records also show that the Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office closed that district court case against Clark on March 20, 2020 — one month after his arrest — and requested that it be forwarded to Cecil County Circuit Court. There, the CCSAO presented the case to a Cecil County grand jury, which, in turn, handed up an indictment against Clark, court records show.
At some point after that, however, the U.S. Attorney’s Office took over the case against Clark — which led to Clark pleading guilty to two federal charges in June and that, in turn, led to him receiving his 52-month sentence on Wednesday.