SNOW HILL — More cases were heard in Worcester County Circuit Court this week stemming from arrests made this winter during Operation Sand Dollar, including one repeat offender who was sentenced to eight years just one month after being sentenced to two years on a prior conviction.
Three months after the Ocean City Police Department (OCOD) announced the results of a major, two-year sting operation involving an undercover officer posing as the owner and operator of a taxi cab, the latest batch of cases hit the Circuit Court this week with varied results based on the severity of the charges.
In February, the OCPD announced the two-year undercover initiative had culminated in grand jury indictments for 34 suspects resulting in 119 total counts including 91 distribution charges and 28 conspiracy to distribute charges. During the operation targeting drug trafficking in the resort area, an undercover narcotics officer posed as a cab driver to infiltrate Ocean City’s shadowy social circles.
During the operation, which included cooperation from allied law enforcement agencies along with the State’s Attorney’s Office, the officer turned cab driver made some buys and sales out of the taxi, but also established connections that led to further indictments. With the cooperation of the city, the department was able to set up a legitimate can complete with one of Ocean City’s limited taxi medallions operating as the “Tipsy Taxi.”
Throughout the prosecution phase, the ongoing cases have shown a vast disparity in the charges and the ultimate outcomes. For example, on Tuesday, Lorenzo Sears, 41, of Oak Hall, Va., entered an Alford plea to a distribution of cocaine charge and was sentenced to eight years in jail. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not plead guilty, but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to prosecute the case. Sears’ eight-year sentence comes on the heels of a two-year sentence meted out in March for a cocaine possession conviction in Worcester County.
In other cases heard this week, Robert Hayes, 44, of Ocean City, pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine and was sentenced to three years in jail, all but 18 months of which were suspended. Robin McCready, 50, of Pocomoke, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and was sentenced to 18 months in jail, all but three of which were then suspended.
Several other “Tipsy Taxi” cases are set for trial in the next few weeks.