OCEAN CITY – An Annapolis man who offered to sell drugs to the wrong person back in January did not realize the extent of his mistake until weeks later when it was too late.
Michael Paul Stellabotte, 20, was in Ocean City District Court Monday morning for his preliminary hearing that would determine if probable cause could be found for drug charges he was arrested on back in March.
However, the events leading up to his arrest were unique in that it was Stellabotte who unknowingly approached an off-duty member of the Ocean City Police Department’s (OCPD) Narcotics Unit back in January. The officer, who was at a restaurant/bar in Annapolis with friends, testified on Monday that at one point that night, Stellabotte had approached him and asked if “he needed anything.”
Telling the court he already had his food and a drink, everything he needed, Stellabotte believed he was asking if he wanted to purchase any drugs.
The officer, who said he went by the name of “Jeff” that night, declined but the conversation between the two continued. Eventually, the officer asked if Stellabotte ever made his way down to Ocean City, in which he said he did. According to the officer’s testimony, the conversation eventually moved on to drugs, specifically crack cocaine.
Later that evening, Stellabotte gave the off-duty officer his cell phone number and the two never spoke again until the officer decided to call him weeks later one night while on duty.
“It was a shot in the dark,” he said at court on Monday.
Stellabotte had answered the phone and “Jeff” told him it was the same guy he had met in Annapolis a few weeks ago and that he was interested in buying some cocaine. Stellabotte said he remembered and later called “Jeff” on Feb. 27 to let him know he was going to be in the Ocean City/Salisbury area and if he wanted to purchase any crack cocaine. According to police records, the narcotics officer agreed to purchase some from him and said he would call the following day.
“Jeff” then called Stellabotte the following day and informed him he wanted to buy two ounces of powder cocaine. The two agreed on a price of $1,550 for the two ounces and Stellabotte said he would arrive in Ocean City around 5 p.m.
After not hearing from Stellabotte that night, the officer said he called again the following day around 2 p.m. and asked him if he still had the cocaine. According to police records, Stellabotte said he did and would be leaving for Ocean City in about 20 minutes.
A little after 4 p.m. “Jeff” got a call from Stellabotte who said he was in Salisbury and would soon be in Ocean City after he stopped at a friend’s place in Ocean Pines. The two then agreed to meet in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven on 59th Street.
According to police records, the officer received a call from Stellabotte who said he was in Ocean City but needed directions to the 7-Eleven. He arrived a short time later where the OCPD Narcotics unit quickly detained Stellabotte along with his passenger.
Stellabotte agreed to cooperate with the officers and told them his passenger had nothing to do with the deal and that the cocaine in the front seat and in the back inside a jacket was all his, according to police records. He was then placed under arrest for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) and intent to distribute a CDS.
The two ounces found in the front seat were determined to be for the undercover deal but the other 33 smaller individually wrapped bags of cocaine found in the jacket was for “partying,” according to Stellabotte.
Although Stellabotte’s lawyer argued the cocaine in the jacket was for personal use and not distribution, Judge Daniel R. Mumford thought otherwise and forwarded the case to Circuit Court.