North Carolina man pleads not guilty to possession of 28 pounds of marijuana
BELLE FOURCHE —A North Carolina man was in court in Butte County Thursday and pleaded not guilty to five drug possession charges.
According to court documents, on May 13, South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Stuart Griffith performed a traffic stop on a dark colored Chevrolet Camaro traveling 75 mph in a 65 mph zone near mile marker 5 on U.S. Highway 212 west of Belle Fourche. Griffith reported the driver of the vehicle, identified as John Logan Worthington, 22, of Cary, N.C., looked over at the officer with a scared look on his face.
Griffith reported that Worthington’s hand shook when handing the officer requested documents and appeared to be extremely nervous evident by his rapid shallow breathing. The trooper then brought Worthington back to his patrol car to issue him a courtesy warning for speeding.
While in his vehicle, Griffith reported that when speaking to Worthington, he claimed he was visiting the Billings, Mont., area for a “short amount of time.” In his report, the officer described that he found Worthington’s response to be unusual “as it would take almost as long as he stayed (in Billings) just to drive there one way.” Worthington also allegedly told the officer that he was staying in a hotel while in Billings, which Griffith also found to be usual because Worthington reported he was going to visit someone he knew.
Throughout their interaction, Griffith reported that he observed Worthington’s extreme nervousness did not subside and was suspicious that Worthington may be participating in criminal activity.
When asked if there was anything illegal in Worthington’s vehicle, specifically large amounts of U.S. currency, several types of illegal drugs, as well as drug paraphernalia, Worthington reportedly said there was not and denied Griffith consent to have his police service dog sniff around the outside of his vehicle.
Griffith deployed his K9 around the vehicle and it indicated to the odor of an illegal drug coming from Worthington’s vehicle. During a search of the vehicle, Griffith located a backpack in the back seat of Worthington’s car that allegedly contained several vacuum-sealed packages. Griffith reported that he could see that one of the packages contained a substance he believed to be THC extract, sometimes referred to as marijuana wax or “shatter.” A more thorough search later allegedly revealed 99 THC oil cartridges, 49 USB charges for a vaporizer pen, approximately 1.5 ounces of marijuana wax, and two ounces of marijuana. Additionally, Griffith reportedly found a large duffel bag in the trunk containing 28 individual packages of marijuana weighing approximately one pound each.
Worthington was placed under arrest and on June 12, a Butte County grand jury indicted him on one count each of possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana, a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $30,000; possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute, also a Class 3 felony; use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment in the county jail and a fine of up to $500; possession of a controlled substance, a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment in the state penitentary and a fine of up to $10,000; and possession with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a substance, also a Class 3 felony.
At his Thursday arraignment, Worthington pleaded not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to be in court again on Aug. 15 for a motions hearing.
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