The sister of convicted Crofton drug dealer James Todd Hibler was sentenced yesterday to 18 months' probation for her limited role in her brother's business.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Raymond J. Thieme Jr. ordered Jessica L. Hibler, 20, who was arrested in November after police discovered her counting $27,000 in proceeds from her brother's drug sales, to undergo drug counseling and urinalysis, but said he did not think her offense warranted a prison sentence.

Jessica Hibler's attorney, Keith Krissoff, had argued for a sentence of probation before judgment, which would have kept her from having a criminal record. The judge's decision not to follow that course may lead to an appeal of the sentence, Krissoff said.

Krissoff said the intense publicity the Hibler case generated because his client's parents worked at the National Security Agency had caused Jessica Hibler to lose her job at the Annapolis Hecht's store and to be "cast aside" by her friends. "The argument can be made that she has been made to pay for the sins of her brother," he said.

Jessica Hibler, who pleaded guilty in May to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, told the judge, "I'm sorry I was counting money for my brother and I know it was wrong . . . . All I ask for is a chance to go on with my life."

James Todd Hibler is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 4 for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana.