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Couple charged in cocaine bust

COVINGTON -- Sometimes hiding things in plain sight is a good idea; other times, it works against you as it did Thursday when a woman allegedly dropped a package of cocaine and it landed on the bumper of a patrol unit.

According to Covington/Newton County Special Investigations Unit Commander Lt. Philip Bradford, two arrests were made in connection with the narcotics that were found on the push bumper of a patrol unit where a woman was asked to stand during a traffic stop.

Bradford said SIU had received numerous complaints of alleged drug activity taking place at 249 Oxford Road, the residence of Courtney and Pamela Hardeman.

"We conducted an investigation at the Oxford Road residence where the Hardemans live and made several controlled purchases from him at the residence," Bradford said. "During the investigation we learned that he also had outstanding warrants on him for failure to appear on some drug charges that he got last year in Newton County."

Bradford said Thursday evening just as SIU was preparing to execute a search warrant at the residence, Courtney and Pamela Hardeman left the residence with several children.

"They went south on (Ga. Highway) 36 and deputies stopped their vehicle at Lackey Road and Highway 36. They arrested Courtney for the warrants that he had outstanding," Bradford said.

In the meantime, a Georgia State Trooper was also on the scene and he observed the Hardeman's four children, between the ages of 4 and 10, were in the car without child safety seats or seat belts.

He asked Pamela Hardeman to step out of the vehicle and told her to stand in front of one of the patrol unit's on the scene while he wrote a ticket for failure to restrain the children.

"We later learned that Courtney had some cocaine on him at the time of the stop and he handed it to his wife to hide," Bradford said, adding that apparently the woman panicked when she was unexpectedly asked to get out of the vehicle.

"She takes this small bag of powder cocaine and tries to discard it when she thinks no one is looking. It hits on the push bumper on the front of a police car," Bradford said. "So now her cocaine is laying on the push bumper and she can't knock it off because everybody is watching her."

Bradford said, of course, it wasn't long before the officers at the scene noticed the cocaine and the woman immediately denied that it was hers.

"They told her, 'Look we just rode down the road going 60 or 70 mph and there is no way it is going to stay on that bumper. It has to have gotten there since the car has been stopped and you are the only one who has been brought here to the front of the car,'" Bradford said, adding that all this time her husband is yelling, "It's mine. I gave it to her," and the woman then told the officers what had happened.

At that point Courtney Hardeman, 31, was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and his outstanding warrants. Pamela Hardeman, 31, was charged with possession of cocaine and several child restraint violations.

Meanwhile, the search warrant was executed and Bradford said in the couple's bedroom, agents discovered more powder cocaine packaged for sale, a loaded handgun and digital scales. As a result, additional charges of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony were added to both of them.

Bradford said the four children were released to the custody of a grandparent.