Two years ago, shortly after he was arrested for housebreaking in Prince George's County, the young Accokeek man, who was then 21 and by his own description "no angel," agreed to work as an undercover informer for county police.
It was a profitable arrangement. Working without pay, the man provided the police with information that resulted in as many as 175 drug arrests. Meanwhile, he was given a suspended sentence following his criminal conviction.
Last week, however, the man - now 23, holding a steady job and newly married - was advised by his probation officer to turn himself in for violating the terms of his probation. The reason: As an undercover informer working for police, the man had associated with the criminal element.
Now the man faces the possibility of having to serve his 10-year suspended sentence in prison after having performed what one police officer called "an outstanding job" as an informant.
The man involved is not pleased with the situation. "What is boils down to," he said, "is that they've been shooting me a lot of bull from the word go."
The issues are quite clear, however, State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr., said this week. "It's a violation of our policy and the rules of the Department of Parole and Probation" for him to have associated with "the criminal element," Marshall said.
The man, who was on probation for an earlier breaking and entering charge when he was arrested for housebreaking, asked that his name not be published because he feared retribution by people he helped put in jail.
His present condition problems began last year when his probation officer at the time. Cynthia R. Dillon, discovered that he was working as a police informant, according to court records. When she asked him about it, he denied it, he said, on the advice of his police contacts.
"Subject was instructed by this agent to cease all activity as a police informer as this is against division policy and would force subject to be involved with known criminal activities," she wrote in his probation records. "Subject continued to make controlled buys and gave this agent false information as to his activities."
Dillon recommended that no bond be set if a warrant veto issued for his arrest for violating his probation."Subject has tried to live a life on both sides of the law and he has a substantial sentence to face if probation is revoked," she wrote.
Dillon, in her report filed last October, concluded, "This agent considers subject to be a danger to public safety and to himself . . . Subject's progress, conduct and attitude since being placed on probation are poor."
Specifically, she accused him in the report of violating four rules of probation three of them related to his police undercover work, and fourth dealing with a drug rehabilitation program he was supposed to attend.
It was not clear yesterday under what circumstances the man came to work for the police. It is known that he began working as an informant as a consequence of his arrest but long before his trial.
Former Circuit Court Judge Samuel DeBlassis, his attorney in the case, said recently he was "sure" that he or someone else privately informed the judge presiding over the housebreaking trial that his client was working with police.
"The state's attorney was well aware of the fact. DeBlassis said, "and the police were well aware of the fact." Neither the presiding judge nor the probation officer could be reached for comment yesterday.
There was conflict, too, over police policy and practice in the use of informants. "Our policy here is not to use people on parole or probation for undercover activities," said Maj. James Ross, head of the county detective bureau. "We're not 100 percent all the time."
Cpl. Les Rackey, the officer with when the informant had the most contact, first said, that "When I found out he was on parole, I immediately stopped using him." A few minutes later, however, he added, "I was not aware it was a violation of procedures" to use a probationer. "We never contact parole and probation . . . I don't see any violation. It was just a mistake as far as using him, just a lack of communication."
"I bet there are 99 or 100 people on probation who are working with police and they're not supposed to be," said State's Attorney Marshall.
Marshall said he has periodically sent reminders to all police agencies not to use people on probation as informers. He last did so in the fall, he said, after William C. Rose, parole and probation supervisor for southern Maryland, "brought to our attention repeated violations."
"You have many cases like this," Marshall said this week, "because police continue to use people like this with a hammer over their head. I recognize the need for informants, but there are a lot of other informants."
The decision to proceed against the Accokeek man was made after a meeting Friday attended by Rackey, probation supervisor Patrick Goddard, the informant's current probation officer (this fourth) and an assistant state's attorney.
In rural Accokeek, in the southern end of the county, the man recalled, "I wasn't any angle. I was in trouble like all the kids in the neighborhood. Then I met Les (Cpl. Rackey) and the rest and straightened myself out. Otherwise, I'd be like (the others); drinking and doing drugs and not holding a steady job. I think working with the police is the best thing that ever happened to me."
"Working with the police is like joining the Cub Scouts," said his wife of three months, who draws $205 a month as assistant resident manager of a Prince George's County apartment complex. Her husband said he earns $260 a week as a carpet installer.
"I'm being spun around on both sides," the man said.
"Obviously," Marshall said, "he must feel he's been had. One arm of the government is trying to put him in jail at the same time another arm of governemtn is telling him it's okay. He has a helluva good legal argument if it's true what he's saying."