Pubdate: December 3, 1998
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 1998 The Washington Post Company
Page: D1
Author: Tom Jackman, Washington Post Staff Writer


Radio Host to Be Sentenced Today for Marijuana Possession

Syndicated raunch-radio host Don Geronimo, half of the "Don and Mike"
afternoon show, was found guilty yesterday of marijuana possession and
pleaded guilty to reckless driving after a 90-minute trial in Fairfax
County General District Court.

The marijuana was found only after Geronimo tried to bolt from the
scene and an officer drew a gun on him, the officer testified yesterday.

Fairfax District Judge Lorraine Nordlund said she found the facts of
the case sufficient to prove Geronimo's guilt, but postponed
sentencing until this afternoon. Fairfax County prosecutors asked that
Geronimo be sentenced to jail because he already has a 1996 conviction
for possession of cocaine.

Geronimo, 40, whose real name is Michael L. Sorce, declined to comment
after the trial, and he did not testify. Nor did he take to the
airwaves yesterday. A taped version of the "Don and Mike" show aired
on WJFK (106.7 FM), the Fairfax station that syndicates the show to 58
stations in 30 states. Locally, it is one of the top two shows in
afternoon drive time.

Ken Stevens, the WJFK general manager, said last night he could not
comment until he had spoken to Geronimo.

Police said that Geronimo was stopped the night of Aug. 5 after
Officer Donald McAuliffe saw him driving his 1997 Toyota Supra at 75
mph in a 35-mph zone in Great Falls. McAuliffe testified that after he
pulled the car over, Geronimo "jumped out of his vehicle and
approached me."

The officer told Geronimo to get back in his car, which Geronimo did.
McAuliffe approached the car, and said he smelled marijuana. He said
Geronimo told him he'd been smoking a cigar.

McAuliffe said he called for a backup officer. While he waited,
McAuliffe said, "Mr. Sorce [Geronimo] picked up his ashtray, shoved it
out the car door window and dumped it out." He said Geronimo also was
"making furtive movements inside the vehicle."

As the officer got out of his car, he said Geronimo got out of his car
again. McAuliffe said he asked Geronimo if he had any drugs or
weapons, and that Geronimo identified himself as a radio personality.
Then, Geronimo began looking around, McAuliffe said.

"I told him, 'Don't think about running,' " McAuliffe testified. "I
asked him to put his hands on the trunk. He ran towards the front of
his car, a gesture I thought meant he was fleeing. I ordered him to
stop, and drew my service weapon."

He said Geronimo stopped by the front of his car, and returned to the
trunk area. As McAuliffe handcuffed him, he said Geronimo told him,
"The marijuana is in my eyeglass case between the seats."

A drug-sniffing dog soon arrived, and police found an aspirin bottle
inside the eyeglass case. Lab reports showed it contained 4.6 grams of
marijuana. Blood tests found very little marijuana in Geronimo's
system. Geronimo then spent the night in the Fairfax County jail.

Stephen A. Best, Geronimo's lawyer, argued that the results of the
search should not be used as evidence. McAuliffe's arrest was illegal,
Best said, arguing that the officer had no reasonable suspicion to
arrest Geronimo.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Mark C. Simmons said the combination
of Geronimo's actions and the drug suspicions were enough to cause the
officer to fear for his safety, and Nordlund agreed. She said Geronimo
was trying to run, and "the only thing that brought him back is the
fact the officer drew a gun on him."

Geronimo pleaded guilty to reckless driving, and Nordlund found him
guilty of possession of marijuana. Simmons noted that Geronimo already
had been convicted of cocaine possession and was allowed to complete a
program that erased the conviction from his record. He recommended a
short jail term, "in light of the fact he's been involved with drugs
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Checked-by: derek rea