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S.C. men facing drug charges after attempted shoplifting

COVINGTON — Four men from South Carolina are facing serious drug charges after one of them was caught fleeing from police when he allegedly attempted to steal nearly $1,000 in gaming cards from Walmart.

Covington Police Department Officer Justin Stott responded to a shoplifting call at Walmart just before 2 a.m. Monday. When he arrived, three of the suspects were there, but the fourth male – Nicholas Trevor Hartley – had run toward Industrial Boulevard.

A Newton County Sheriff’s Office deputy was called and he soon found Hartley in the wooded area behind Little Phillies and brought Hartley back to the other suspects at Walmart.

According to the incident report filed by the CPD, Hartley admitted to stealing 136 packs of gaming cards valued at $937.28. He said he placed the cards in a shopping cart and left the store. He ran when a Walmart employee tried to stop him, the report states.

Officers then asked one of Hartley’s friends, Christian Blake Cates, if they could search his car. He did not give consent, so the officers brought a K9 officer to sniff around the vehicle.

When the dog alerted to the odor of narcotics, officers began to search the vehicle and found a bag inside the glove compartment that contained two plastic bags with a large amount of pills suspected to be Xanax, the report states.

They also found a pill bottle with what was believed to be 18 Oxycontin pills and another bottle that contained about 90 Buspirone hydrochloride tablets. A jar containing suspected marijuana and another one containing an unknown white substance was found in the back of the car, along with a .38 Special revolver under the driver’s seat, according to the incident report.

Officers searched one of Hartley’s other friends, 20-year-old Joesi Bleu Simpson, and discovered he had several pieces of identification, including a South Carolina commercial driver’s license, Social Security card, South Carolina ID card and a Division of Vital Records card, in someone else’s name.

All four men were arrested and charged as follows:

• Nicholas Trevor Hartley, 21, 705 Highland Court Drive, Greenwood, S.C., charged with theft by shoplifting; possession, manufacture, distribution of a controlled substance (Oxycontin); trafficking in illegal drugs (Xanax); possession of a firearm while trying to commit crimes;

• Christian Blake Cates, 19, 920 Reynolds Ave., Greenwood, S.C., charged with obstruction of law enforcement officers, possession, manufacture, distribution of a controlled substance (Oxycontin); trafficking in illegal drugs (Xanax); possession of a firearm while trying to commit crimes;

• Steven Russell Chalmers, 22, 126 Valley Road, Greenwood, S.C., charged with obstruction of law enforcement officers, possession, manufacture, distribution of a controlled substance (Oxycontin); trafficking in illegal drugs (Xanax); possession of a firearm while trying to commit crimes; and

• Joesi Bleu Simpson, 20, 1630 Mathis Road, Greenwood, S.C., charged with obstruction of law enforcement officers, possession, manufacture, distribution of a controlled substance (Oxycontin); trafficking in illegal drugs (Xanax); possession of a firearm while trying to commit crimes.