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Police charge man who showed up for work-release with DUI

COVINGTON — Covington police arrested a man who allegedly drove to the Sheriff’s Office for work-release under the influence of prescription medication.

An off-duty police officer with the Monroe Police Department contacted the Covington Police Department around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday to report he was following what he suspected to be a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol weaving all over the interstate.

The officer followed the gold Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by 24-year-old Zachery Cheek as it traveled eastbound on Interstate 20 near exit 90 onto the Alcovy Road exit and into the Newton County Sheriff’s Office parking lot.

CPD Sgt. Asher Dozier, who was dispatched to the area, arrived at just about the same time and noticed that Cheek’s eyes were glazed over and he appeared unsteady on his feet as he walked around the car, according to the incident report.

“Cheek repeatedly asked Sgt. Dozier ‘what the problem is’ despite Sgt. Dozier explaining it several times,” the incident report states.

Dozier reported that he did not detect the odor of alcohol but asked Cheek if he had taken any drugs or medication. At first Cheek denied taking anything and said that he was at the jail to report for work release to which he was sentenced for a charge of theft by receiving prescription medications, according to the incident report.

“Cheek also began telling Sgt. Dozier and (CPD) Officer Nuqui about a recent incident in which he was caught transporting drugs past the guard line after being forced to by someone who threatened him in the parking lot,” the report states.

Dozier stated that he saw a tied-up plastic bag in the center console of Cheek’s SUV, and asked for consent to search the vehicle. Cheek did not give consent, so a K-9 unit was used for a free-air sniff of the vehicle while Dozier administered a series of field sobriety tests.

“Sgt. Dozier advised Cheek that he believed Cheek was under the influence of a depressant drug and Cheek advised that he had taken Alprazolam earlier in the day and that he has a prescription for Alprazolam,” the report states. “Cheek then stated he had actually consumed two Alprazolam.”

The K-9 alerted that there were narcotics in the SUV, so Dozier searched the vehicle and found four 2-mg Alprazolam pills in the plastic bag he had seen in the center console. He also found a prescription bottle for 1-mg Alprazolam on the floorboard.

Dozier reported that this type of packaging is consistent with illegal street-level distribution of popular prescription medications.

At first, Cheek claimed that his mother, who is a nurse, kept his prescription and gave him two or three pills in a plastic bag “to get him through the day,” the report states. Doubtful that a nurse would do this knowing that it is a legal requirement to keep prescription medications in a properly labeled container, he contacted Cheek’s mother, who denied maintaining or dispensing drugs to him, the report states.

Cheek, of 1845 Henderson Mill Road in Mansfield, was then placed under arrest and charged with DUI, possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance and failure to keep prescription drugs in their original container.