Judge Gives Berlin Man 10 Years For Cocaine Dealing

SNOW HILL — A Berlin man with a history of drug and sex offense arrests in Worcester County and in Delaware was sentenced on Tuesday to 10 years in jail for his latest conviction.

Deshawn Sturgis, 29, appeared in Worcester County Circuit Court on Tuesday for trial following a December arrest and pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. With the agreed upon plea arrangement, Sturgis faced a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years without the possibility of parole under the repeat offender statute.

In December, an Ocean City police undercover narcotics officer spoke with Sturgis via cellphone and made arrangements to buy $150 worth of powder cocaine. During the call, the transaction was set up for an appointed time in the parking lot of the White Marlin Mall near Marshall’s department store in West Ocean City. However, the plan was changed and the transaction actually took place in the mall parking lot in front of the Petco store.

The OCPD officer met Sturgis at that location and got into his vehicle, where four small bags of powder cocaine stored in a cigarette box were exchanged for the $150. After the transaction, Sturgis was quickly arrested and charged with possession and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

The December arrest was the second in five years for Sturgis. In August 2006, he was arrested on the same charges and was later sentenced to 18 months in jail. Sturgis was arrested on cocaine distribution charges in Delaware in 2004 and was also arrested in Delaware in 2000 for attempted second-degree rape when he was a juvenile.

With his track record, Sturgis was facing a minimum 10-year mandatory sentence when he appeared in court on Tuesday for his latest cocaine distribution arrest in December in West Ocean City. The sentencing guidelines for the third arrest for cocaine distribution fell in a range of 12-20 years. Sturgis’ attorney, public defender Sandra Fried, asked Judge Thomas Groton on Tuesday to consider the standard sentence for her client rather than the minimum mandatory 10 years because she said it might work out to a shorter stint for her client.

“He tells me he has come to a very big realization,” she said. “He got a cell phone call from his son asking him when he was coming home, which made him realize he really messed up this time. With the 10-year mandatory, he’s going to do a lot of time. He’ll probably do more time than with a standard sentence.”

When it was his time to address the judge, Sturgis appealed to Groton to consider a sentence that would get him out earlier.

“I apologize for my actions and take full responsibility,” he said. “Not only was I selling drugs, I was using drugs, and once you get addicted, it’s hard to get off.”

Sturgis told the judge he sought treatment at different times during his pattern of arrests, but couldn’t find the help he needed.

“I never had any help,” he said. “I’m hoping to get help through treatment programs when I go to jail. This has been a wake-up call. I need more than one hour a week. I need help every day but I was too embarrassed to ask for it.”

Groton said Sturgis was likely offered treatment through parole and probation at several times.

“Why didn’t you get the wake-up call in 2006?” he asked. “Being embarrassed is better than spending the rest of your life in jail, and that’s what you’re looking at if you do this time and find yourself in the same situation again.”

Groton sentenced Sturgis to the mandatory minimum 10 years, pointing out that was likely what he would serve regardless of what direction he took.

“It’s probably a wash,” he said. “Twenty years with the possibility of parole is likely going to be 10 years anyway.”