Maryland Man Sentenced for Illegal Possession of Firearm and Narcotics Conspiracy
U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Kenneth Clark, Jr., a/k/a “Man” and “Play,” age 30, of Port Deposit, Maryland, to 52 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a narcotics conspiracy and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to his guilty plea, on February 20, 2020, a Cecil County Sheriff’s deputy saw a vehicle speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign. The deputy initiated a traffic stop, activated his mobile video recorder, capturing video through the windshield of his patrol car as he approached vehicle.
After the vehicle came to a stop, the deputy observed the vehicle shake as the driver and passenger switched seats. The deputy asked both occupants to produce identification documents and vehicle registration. The person in the driver’s seat produced identification while Clark, who was in the passenger seat, informed the officer that he did not have a license. Clark then grabbed the vehicle’s gear shifter and commanded the driver to go. However, the car did not move and the deputy was able to turn off the vehicle. Clark opened the passenger door and ran away. The deputy’s in-car video camera captured Clark holding a black semi-automatic handgun as he exited the passenger side. The driver also ran away, but he and Clark were apprehended by law enforcement.
After his arrest, Clark was searched and officers recovered $1,802 in cash on Clark’s person. The deputy returned to the area where he saw Clark throw the firearm and recovered a .22 LR handgun loaded with 11 hollow-point .22 LR live rounds. The slide of the handgun was pulled back, exposing a chambered .22 LR bullet, and the weapon was jammed. Clark’s vehicle was also searched and the deputy recovered approximately six grams of marijuana inside the passenger’s side door and two cell phones. Clark requested evaluation by Emergency Medical Services. As Clark got out of the patrol car, the deputy recovered a small plastic baggie containing approximately one gram of crack cocaine on the floorboard next to where Clark was seated.
Law enforcement later learned that the firearm in Clark’s possession was reported stolen a few days before it was recovered from Clark. Clark knew that he was prohibited from possessing firearms due to previous felony convictions, including a 2016 conviction for second-degree assault and a 2017 conviction for having an illegal handgun on his person—both in Cecil County Circuit Court. At the time of his arrest, Clark was on supervised probation in Cecil County.
According to Clark’s plea agreement, between the first and second week of February 2020, a concerned citizen contacted Maryland State Police to report possible cocaine transactions in the Port Deposit area of Cecil County by a male nicknamed “Man”. During the investigation of a non-fatal overdose that occurred on January 29, 2020, Maryland State Police (MSP) identified Clark as the likely source of the narcotics supply leading to the overdose. Numerous messages downloaded from the overdose victim’s cellular phone resolved to the phone number assigned to the phone in Clark’s possession at the time of his most recent arrest.
Additionally, MSP found several photos of Clark displaying, brandishing, and discharging firearms on his public social media accounts. For example, on February 18, 2020, Clark posted two public photographs holding a semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine, which matches the description of the firearm seized after Clark’s arrest during the traffic stop. A subsequent review of Clark’s social media messages revealed conversations regarding the distribution of controlled substances, including cocaine and methamphetamine.
As detailed in his plea agreement, while incarcerated at the Cecil County Detention Center, which records outgoing calls from detainees, Clark made several phone calls to two associates asking them to retrieve several items hidden at his father’s residence. Clark spoke in code terms about what investigators believe were drugs and firearms, while providing specific instructions on where to find the items. On February 28, 2020 Maryland State Police searched the residence of one of the associates and recovered a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, that matched the description of the firearm depicted in Clark’s social media pictures. The associate advised law enforcement that he obtained the firearm from Clark’s father’s residence at Clark’s direction.