Nelson Van Standifer

Leonardtown, MD — A Prince George’s County man has been sentenced to 30 days in the St. Mary’s County Detention Center for attempting to obtain by illegal prescription the drug called “Promethazine with Codeine,” known on the street as “Purple Drank.” Nelson Standifer, 23, of District Heights was sentenced Oct. 19 by Judge Karen Abrams. He had earlier pled guilty to the charge.

Promethazine with Codeine is a cough and cold medicine taken orally and only available by prescription. It is abused by being mixed with soda for flavoring as well as with other drugs such as alcohol or marijuana. It has become popular with young people is extremely dangerous when taken in large quantities. Purple Drank has vaulted into national attention because of the deaths of several musicians.

Standifer was allegedly a part of a gang from the Washington, DC area attempting to obtain the drug from local pharmacies. He and Ashley Tate, 26, of DC were arrested in February of this year by St. Mary’s County deputies outside a local pharmacy.

Sentencing guidelines in Maryland for the crime are probation to one year in jail. Standifer’s attorney, public defender Ryan Posey, argued for supervised probation so his client could get drug abuse treatment, which he said he had not yet had an opportunity to receive.

Posey also told Judge Abrams that Standifer was the father of three young children. He also said that Standifer lacked a father role model when growing up. “He is very intelligent and can be an active member of society,” Posey said.

But St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney Rick Fritz told Judge Abrams that he was concerned about the group from DC introducing Purple Drank into the area.

Judge Abrams said she was particularly concerned about Standifer’s criminal behavior in light of the fact that he was the father of young children. Regarding his problems with his father, she added, “Lots of people have bad relationships with their father.”

Judge Abrams noted Standifer’s record plus a pending case in DC. It also was revealed that he had open warrants in both Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties for his arrest. In sentencing him to the local jail, Judge Abrams insisted those warrants would have to be dealt with before he is released from custody in St. Mary’s County.

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com