GREENWOOD, S.C.; September 8, 2022 – A Greenwood man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to a drug trafficking charge right before his trial was to start on Thursday morning, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced today.
Antonio Lamar Gary, 41, of Greenwood, pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking heroin, which exposed him to up to 20 years in prison. A jury had already been selected on Wednesday afternoon, and pretrial motions completed, when Gary elected to change his plea from not guilty to guilty.
Circuit Judge R. Keith Kelly sentenced to Gary to 15 years in prison, with no possibility of parole. Gary has a criminal history with drug related charges dating back more than two decades. The crime is classified as violent and serious under state law and Gary must serve a minimum of 85 percent.
In June 2019, deputies with the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office performed a traffic stop on a vehicle after observing no working taillights. Gary was located in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Deputies observed both Gary and the driver of the vehicle acting nervously and requested K9 “Loki,” a trained drug sniffing K-9 officer, respond to the scene. The K-9 alerted to the presence of narcotics after performing a “free-air sniff.” Deputies observed a plastic baggie with a number of small blue pills as well as bag containing a blue powder. Both men were placed under arrest and taken to the Greenwood County Detention Center.
Deputy Solicitor Yates Brown and Assistant Solicitor Andre Nguyen handled the case for the state. Gary was represented by Jane Merrill of the Greenwood County Bar.
Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with investigators at the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office, particularly K-9 “Loki,” Inv. Michael Mejia, Inv. Matthew Womack, Matthew Noblin, in securing the conviction and lengthy prison sentence.
“The K-9 officers in our partner law enforcement agencies do not always get the credit they deserve, but they are a critical part of the front-line work in the war against deadly drugs on our streets,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “I am pleased to have another drug trafficker out of our community for the foreseeable future, and will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to fight back against the wave of devastating and deadly narcotics in South Carolina.”