COLUMBIA, SC. - United States Attorney Bill Nettles and Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Atlanta Field Division, announced today that John Truman Poole, Jr, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, entered a guilty plea yesterday in federal court in Greenville, South Carolina, on the charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of a substance containing a detectible amount of methamphetamine and cocaine, a violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. Senior United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr. accepted the plea.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that in mid-2009, an individual was arrested by the DEA in Orlando, Florida, and agreed to become a confidential source and cooperate with DEA investigators regarding an upstate South Carolina narcotics broker with a suspected law enforcement source of supply. After a debriefing of the confidential source by law enforcement, the confidential source told agents that in April of 2009, he purchased a quantity of what he believed to be cocaine, which lab tests later revealed it was quantities of both cocaine and methamphetamine, from a person in South Carolina. The confidential source further advised investigators that this person told him that the drugs were taken directly from an unidentified law enforcement agency’s evidence locker and that the narcotics were still packaged in what appeared to be an unidentified law enforcement agency's evidence bag.
As a result of this information, the investigation led to the arrest and indictment of former Spartanburg Clerk of Court, Marcus Woodrow Kitchens, who had removed the drugs from the evidence room of the Clerk’s Office. Kitchens pled guilty to the charges and has been sentenced to 70 months imprisonment.
The inquiry into Kitchens’ involvement led to an investigation of Poole, a former part-time Spartanburg County Magistrate and private banker at the time. This probe further revealed that Poole, Kitchens, and a third party met on at least two occasions to discuss the plan to transport the drugs from the evidence room in the Spartanburg County Courthouse to Florida for sale there.
In early April of 2009, the third party drove the drugs to Orlando, negotiated a sale price of $8,000 and received a partial payment of $3,000 from the confidential source, which was divided among the three. According to Poole, he received $715 from the transaction.
With allegations of drugs being removed from the evidence room, local DEA and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, along with the FBI Evidence Response Team, worked tirelessly with members of the Spartanburg County Clerk’s Office, Solicitor Trey Gowdy and his staff, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), to immediately secure and inventory the evidence room in the Spartanburg County courthouse.
The case was investigated by the DEA, FBI, and the SLED. Assistant United States Attorneys Lance Crick and Andy Moorman of the Greenville Office handled the case.
DEA Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.