Suspect in December heroin bust sentenced on cocaine charges
A Philadelphia man who allegedly was the driver of a rental car that police found to contain more than $100,000 worth of heroin last December will serve 14 to 28 months in state prison for a January 2012 cocaine bust.
Timothy D. Eiland, 23, was convicted of possession with intent to deliver 4.5 grams of cocaine by Judge Richard Gray after a non-jury trial on May 6.
On Wednesday at his sentencing hearing, the prosecution and defense argued the impact of a recent United States Supreme Court ruling, Alleyne v. United States, on whether Eiland could be sentenced under state mandatory minimum laws for distributing drugs near a school or playground.
The Alleyne ruling was handed down on June 17 – a 5-4 majority of the Court ruled that any evidence for giving a mandatory sentence must be presented to a jury, rather than imposed by a judge at sentencing. Assistant District Attorney Nicole Ippolito asked Gray to impose the mandatory two- to four-year sentence for distributing drugs in a school zone, twice the mandatory minimum for the same offense more than 1,000 feet from a school or playground.
Eiland was arrested after city police staked out an Eldred Street home near Curtin Middle School on the tip of a confidential informant. Police pulled over the rented Nissan Eiland was driving near Flanigan Park. Later at City Hall, the cocaine was found in Eiland’s sock.
Defense attorney Pete Campana argued that due to the recent ruling, the state law that allows judges to make a ruling on the school zone mandatory at sentencing now is unconstitutional.
“Our appellate courts make it really clear that you apply distances for school zones at sentencing,” Campana said.
Gray allowed that Eiland was found guilty of intent to distribute within a school zone, but asked Ippolito, “Is the difference between the top end of the standard range and the mandatory range something the commonwealth wants to go to the appellate courts about?”
Gray said “this court believes the recent Supreme Court decision invalidates the mandatory minimum sentences in this case” before giving Eiland his sentence of 14 to 28 months in state prison with credit for about two months in county jail.