Robert B. Reckmeyer, the younger of two Northern Virginia brothers convicted of masterminding a Loudoun County drug ring that sold nearly 300 tons of marijuana and hashish, has had his 17-year prison sentence reduced to 14 years.

Reckmeyer, 31, who forfeited nearly $2.5 million to the government following his arrest, will not be eligible for an earlier parole under the new sentence.

Prosecutors said yesterday Reckmeyer could be freed before 1997 only if he is given a slight term reduction in his sentence for good behavior.

U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris recommended Tuesday that Reckmeyer be transferred from the federal prison in Danbury, Conn., to the prison in Petersburg, Va.

Cacheris said the prison in Virginia would make it easier for family members to visit Reckmeyer, described by defense attorneys and neighbors as an unusually attentive husband and father of three.

Michael Weiser, Reckmeyer's court-appointed attorney, had argued in court Monday that because his client cooperated with the government, turned over $2.5 million in his assets, and informed prosecutors of any drug and illegal activity known to him, he should be given a lesser prison term.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Aronica declined to comment on the new sentence. During the original April sentencing, Aronica had argued that Reckmeyer be given the maximum allowed under his plea agreement, 20 years.

His older brother, Christopher F. Reckmeyer, 33, also pleaded guilty to conducting the decade-long drug operation, and received a 17-year prison term in May.

Christopher Reckmeyer has appealed a federal judge's ruling that prohibited him from changing his guilty plea after he signed the plea agreement and the government dismantled its case. Until that appeal is settled, Weiser said, Christopher Reckmeyer cannot apply for sentence reduction.