By Kathy Jefcoats
McDONOUGH — Two Clayton County parolees stopped on southbound I-75 for driving erratically face felony marijuana charges after an officer said he found almost 10 pounds of drugs wrapped as a Christmas package in the back of their rental car.
Dorian Maurice Allen, 28, of Riverdale, and Patrick Delroy Scott, 44, of Ellenwood, are charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. They were arrested following a Sept. 13 traffic stop in Locust Grove and are being held in the Henry County Jail.
Allen was represented in Henry Magistrate Court Wednesday by court-appointed attorney Jeff Cofer during a preliminary hearing. Henry County police Officer Nicholas Jackson testified about the traffic stop under direct examination by Assistant Solicitor Bill McBroom.
Jackson said he stopped the 2012 Nissan Altima about 7:23 p.m. because it was weaving inside the middle lane near mile marker 211. He said the driver was pointing his finger in the passenger’s face in what appeared to him to be an aggressive manner. During the stop, the men denied arguing but Jackson said he noticed several signs of nervousness and became suspicious.
“I was writing him a courtesy warning for failure to maintain his lane but he continued to show signs of nervous behavior,” he said. “I asked him why and he said he was just happy not to get a speeding ticket. I told him that I didn’t stop him for speeding. He was so visibly nervous he forgot the reason I stopped him.”
Allen reportedly told Jackson they were heading to Macon while Scott said they were going to South Carolina for a birthday party.
His suspicions raised, Jackson asked about consent to search the car.
“Mr. Scott wouldn’t consent or deny permission to search the car,” said Jackson. “He just saying that I already had him stopped. I asked if there was anything illegal in the car and he said he didn’t know because it is a rental.”
Jackson brought a K-9 unit to perform a free air sniff and the dog hit on the lower trunk seam, he said. Jackson searched the car and found two black bags containing the men’s personal items and a box wrapped in Christmas paper.
“Mr. Scott said it was a birthday present but it was wrapped in Christmas paper,” said Jackson.
Jackson opened the box and found five individually-wrapped packages of marijuana, he said.
Cofer disputed Jackson’s right to search the car. He argued that it is possible to get to South Carolina through Macon. Cofer also said bachelors are apt to wrap gifts in whatever they can find and the Christmas paper didn’t mean the box wasn’t a birthday gift.
Cofer also argued against Allen’s culpability since he was a passenger inside a rental car.
“There is no evidence he’s on the rental agreement, he has no key, no access to the trunk,” said Cofer. “There is no evidence he knew there was 9.8 pounds of marijuana in the back. No evidence he knew what was in the box.”
After hearing from both sides, Magistrate Marty Jones bound over the case for grand jury presentation. McBroom noted that Allen has been in trouble before and “didn’t learn from it,” evoking a response from Allen.
“That was methamphetamine,” he said.
According to Georgia Department of Corrections records, Allen is on parole until December 2017 for trafficking methamphetamine. He served more than two years in prison on the charge before being released in May 2011.
Scott’s hearing was reset to Nov. 8. According to Georgia Department of Corrections records, Scott served almost three years in prison on a nine-year sentence for possession of marijuana in Clayton County. He was released on parole in February 2011.
Both men are being held on $10,000 bond in the Henry County Jail. Jones said it was in the men’s best interest for him not to reconsider the bond amount.
“I would set a higher bond if I reconsidered it,” he said.