Cops & Courts – April 14, 2023

Arrests After Regional Narcotics Investigation

OCEAN CITY – Multiple arrests have been made after a months’ long narcotics investigation.

Last year the Ocean City Police Department Narcotics Unit initiated an investigation into drug distribution activity in and around the resort. The investigation was carried out with the assistance of the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team.

“During the fall, the Ocean City Police Department Narcotics Unit initiated a long-term narcotics investigation focusing on narcotics dealers and users in the south-end area of Ocean City,” said Ocean City Police Communications Manager Ashley Miller. “Throughout the six-month-long investigation, the Narcotics Unit was able to identify, and dismantle several drug trafficking operations in the Ocean City area. This joint investigation is ongoing.”

The following arrests were made over the last week as part of the investigation:

  • On Dec. 16, 2022, a detective contacted Ashley D. Stevens, 35, of Pocomoke, about potentially buying a gram of cocaine. Advising the charge would be $80, Stevens told the detective to meet her at a convenience store in downtown Ocean City. The detective remained inside his vehicle and was approached by Stevens. The undercover detective paid $80 for the cocaine and Stevens walked away. Three days later, the detective again arranged for a deal for the same amount in the downtown area. The transaction took place without incident. On Jan. 3 and Jan. 12, another purchase of the same amount took place along St. Louis Avenue.

Then, on April 5, the detective reached out to Stevens to buy cocaine and crack and a location on 25th Street was the meet site. Detectives conducting surveillance observed Stevens leaving a home on Flounder Lane and walk to meet the detective. Stevens was arrested after it was discovered the drugs were located inside a McDonald’s bag she was carrying.

A search warrant was executed at the home Stevens was observed leaving before the drug transaction. Inside a bedroom inside the house where Stevens’ identification was found was one half of an ounce of crack and another plastic bag with cocaine. Inside the room police found a box of sandwich bags and a digital scale.

Stevens was charged with four counts of distribution schedule II drug (cocaine) and four counts of possession schedule II drug (cocaine).

  • On Jan. 25, a police detective communicated via cell phone with Jessica M. Bair, 36, of Newark, about purchasing $100 worth of cocaine. At an arranged meeting place, Bair provided crack to the undercover detective before leaving the area. The detective realized it was cocaine in the bag when he wanted to buy crack. A wipe was used to determine the powder substance was fake and not cocaine either. Attempts to communicate with Bair were unsuccessful.

On Jan. 31, the detective communicated with Bair about buying $100 worth of crack cocaine at a midtown gas station. The detective parked and walked over to Bair’s vehicle where the transaction took place while the woman sat in her vehicle. A test of the drug confirmed it was real this time.

On Feb. 7, a transaction for one gram of powder cocaine was arranged for $100. A location was chosen in the downtown area to meet, and the transaction took place with the cocaine powder confirmed as real. On Feb 28, another $100 transaction for one gram of cocaine took place at a downtown parking lot. On March 23, another $100 transaction for powder cocaine took place, this time in Berlin.

On April 3, a search warrant was issued for Bair’s home in Newark. The detective and Bair arranged to meet in Berlin for another cocaine buy. Detectives from the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team placed Bair under arrest after crack cocaine was found on her. A search of her home found 23 grams of crack cocaine, a digital scale and a handgun.

Bair was charged with multiple counts of distribution schedule II drug (cocaine and crack cocaine) and firearm possession in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

  • A drug distribution probe launched in February centered around Charles W. Behney, 51, of Berlin, and Randi M. Paicek, 36, of Selbyville.

On Feb. 8, a detective contacted Paicek about purchasing a gram of powder cocaine for $100 in a hotel parking lot in Ocean City. The drug transaction took place with Paicek in the passenger seat and Behney driving. One week later, on Feb. 15, a transaction for $150 took place – powder cocaine and crack cocaine — between the detective and Behney and Paicek at another Ocean City location.

On Feb. 20, the detective reached out to Paicek, who was busy, but offered Behney to meet for the drug buy at a convenience store in Ocean City. The transaction took place without incident. On Feb. 24 and 27, two transactions occurred for one gram of powder cocaine for $100 each.

On April 4, detectives with the Ocean City Narcotics Unit and the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team noticed Behney and Paicek driving south on Route 113 near Bishopville. Both individuals were arrested. Behney and Paicek was charged with multiple counts of distribution schedule II drug (cocaine).

  • Joseph W. Parks, 28, of Berlin, was charged with two counts of distribution schedule II drug (cocaine).

During the month of November 2022, an investigation was launched because of reports of Parks distributing cocaine in Worcester County. On Nov. 14, Parks called the undercover detective to sell 3.5 grams of powder cocaine for $250. The transaction took place inside a hotel room. On Nov. 29, another transaction for one gram of cocaine for $100 was arranged at the same hotel.


Distracted Driving Reminders

BERLIN — With April being National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Maryland State Police are reminding motorists just how dangerous it can be on the road if you are not paying attention to your surroundings.

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office, more than 24,000 people are injured and 200 others die each year on Maryland roads as a result of distracted driving.

In the first three months of 2023, Maryland State Police troopers have issued a total of 4,352 citations and warnings for distracted driving violations. Last year, troopers issued 21,757 citations and warnings for distracted driving violations of which, 4,199 were drivers who were caught using their handheld phone while their vehicle was in motion.

Troopers across Maryland are increasing their distracted driving enforcement patrols and awareness efforts this month. Troopers will be working collaboratively with allied law enforcement agencies to stop motorists who are driving distracted.

Any time drivers take their eyes off the road to use a phone, eat, put on make-up or change the radio station, they are driving blind. Looking down at a phone to read a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds – at 55 mph, that is equivalent to driving the length of three football fields – all without looking.

Maryland law prohibits the use of a handheld cellphone and texting while driving. First-time offenders caught using a cellphone while driving face a maximum of an $83 fine, second-time offenders a maximum of $140 fine and third-time offenders a maximum of $160 fine.