A Wisconsin man was sentenced to three years in prison after being charged with transporting more than 160 pounds of marijuana into Maryland.
Rory Robert Harding pleaded guilty Wednesday to importation of marijuana. Harding, 36, admitted to driving the drugs in a rented truck from Oregon to Frederick.
“I brought this on myself,” Harding told the court Wednesday before being sentenced. “I take full responsibility.”
Harding has been held without bail in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center since sheriff’s deputies arrested him in May.
A confidential informant tipped off the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office about a large marijuana shipment coming into the county on May 20. Officers were watching the designated drop-off spot, a storage unit on Worman’s Mill Court in Frederick.
Harding arrived around 9 p.m., driving a large, yellow box truck, according to Deputy State’s Attorney Nanci Hamm. Harding handed the keys to the people waiting for him and took a taxi to Volt restaurant, where police later apprehended him.
In the back of the truck, behind stacks of used furniture, were five large, locked toolboxes. Officers cut the locks, and found 125 bags of suspected marijuana inside, according to Hamm.
The value of the drugs is about $800,000, Hamm said. Text messages found on Harding’s cellphone indicate he was to be paid $10,000 for hauling the drugs across the country.
Hamm asked Frederick County Circuit Judge Scott Rolle to sentence Harding to 20 years with all but three years suspended. The state guidelines suggest a sentence of probation to three months.
The seriousness of the charge warranted a sentence above the guidelines, Hamm said. Prosecutors suspect this was not Harding’s first time driving drugs across state borders. His text messages show significant knowledge of security measures in the operation. Harding’s financial records showed deposits adding up to around $90,000 and charges at hotels and restaurants in different states.
Defense attorney Devin Luqman told the court that Harding had joined the operation out of financial desperation. He needed money to help pay medical expenses after his father became sick.
Harding is a college graduate and a musician, Luqman said. He tours with numerous bands and teaches private music lessons in Wisconsin. He also works in marketing and does odd jobs.
“I was offered an opportunity that seemed like a way out,” Harding said. “I knew it was too good to be true. All I was thinking about was helping my family. Now I regret the decision.”