Man’s attempt to sneak contraband to inmates lands him in jail

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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An Elizabethton man who admitted to attempting to pass contraband to an inmate work crew found himself behind bars for his trouble on Monday.
Carter County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Investigator Michael Little arrested Tommy Lee Nelson, 29, 345 Big Springs Road, Elizabethton, and charged him with simple possession of Schedule VI drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Around 11:30 a.m. on Monday, an undercover officer with the Elizabethton Police Department saw a gold Toyota Corolla traveling south bound on South Sycamore Street when the driver did something that caught the officer’s attention as he passed the Elizabethton City Hall building.
“The vehicle swerved into oncoming traffic in front of 136 S. Sycamore Street,” the undercover officer said. “There were several trustees with the (Carter County Sheriff’s Office) working in front of the property.”
The undercover officer said the driver of the vehicle threw an unknown object out the driver’s side window as he passed the inmates.
“The car then failed to stop at the traffic light at the intersection of Hattie Avenue and South Sycamore Street,” the undercover officer said. “The vehicle nearly struck another vehicle at the intersection.”
The undercover officer performed a traffic stop on the vehicle in the parking lot of a nearby church and identified the driver as Nelson.
“Nelson immediately stated he was sorry and that he was attempting to give the trustees a pack of cigarettes,” the undercover officer said. “He stated ‘I was locked up and know what it’s like to not have tobacco.’ Nelson stated anytime he sees jail or prison workers working he attempts to pass them a pack of cigarettes.”
The undercover officer said Nelson gave him permission to search his vehicle. During the search, the undercover officer reported finding items of drug paraphernalia as well as marijuana. The undercover officer then contacted Deputy Chief Investigator Michael Little with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office since Nelson admitted to attempting to pass items off to the inmate workers.
When Little arrived at the scene of the traffic stop, he also spoke with Nelson.
“He admitted to throwing the package, which he stated was a pack of cigarettes. Nelson denied knowing any of the inmate trustees, and said that he had been incarcerated multiple times in the past and wanted to give them some tobacco because he knew what it was like to be without,” Little said. “He also admitted to me that he had done this numerous times in the past with both county and state inmate trustees.”
After speaking with Nelson, Little spoke with CCSO Deputy Wendell Treadway who had been supervising the inmate crew working at Elizabethton City Hall.
“Deputy Treadway showed me a full, unopened package of Camel cigarettes which he stated he intercepted after being through from the gold sedan,” Little said. “Deputy Treadway said that he had spoken with the inmate trustees, all of whom denied arranging for the cigarettes to be dropped. I notified Capt. Eric Trivette, who is the Carter County Jail Supervisor, and advised him of the situation. He stated that he would handle the follow up investigation with the inmate trustees.”
Nelson was taken to the Carter County Detention Center where he was later released after posting a $4,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Carter County General Sessions Court on May 9.

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