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Former magistrate, banker guilty on drug charges




John Truman Poole Jr. of Spartanburg pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, a violation of federal law, U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said. Poole is a former part-time Spartanburg County Magistrate and former private banker.



Staff Report

Published February 10, 2011

John Truman Poole Jr., of Spartanburg, S.C., entered a guilty plea on the charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, a violation of federal law, U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles announced.

Poole is a former part-time Spartanburg County Magistrate and former private banker.

The investigation that snared Poole also 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, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Kitchens has pleaded guilty to the charges and has been sentenced to 70 months imprisonment.

Senior U.S. District Judge Henry M. Herlong Jr. accepted Poole’s plea Thursday in federal court in Greenville.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing showed that in mid-2009, a person was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency 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 by law enforcement, the confidential source told agents that in April of 2009, he purchased a quantity of what he believed to be cocaine (lab tests later revealed it was quantities of both cocaine and methamphetamine) from a person in South Carolina.

The confidential source said the person told him that the drugs were taken 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.

The inquiry into Kitchens’ involvement led to an investigation of Poole, the former part-time Spartanburg County magistrate and private banker. The probe revealed that Poole, Kitchens, and a third party met at least twice 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 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.

With allegations of drugs being removed from the evidence room, local DEA and FBI agents, along with the FBI Evidence Response Team, worked with members of the Spartanburg County Clerk’s Office, Solicitor Trey Gowdy’s office, and SLED to secure and inventory the evidence room in the Spartanburg County courthouse.

The case was investigated by the DEA, the FBI, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lance Crick and Andy Moorman of the Greenville Office handled the case.

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