Suspected drug trafficker appears in Troup County Magistrate Court

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 4, 2015

By Melanie Ruberti

LaGRANGE — The man accused of trafficking 40,000 tablets of Xanax, 1,000 pills of Percocet and 11 pounds of high-grade marijuana down Interstate 85 in Troup County faced a judge and the Troup County sheriff’s deputy that arrested him for the first time Thursday morning in Magistrate Court.

Nicholas Antoine, 34, of Atlanta sat with his defense attorney, Jackie Patterson, and listened to the charges against him, which included possession of Percocet with the intent to distribute, possession of Xanax with the intent to distribute, trafficking marijuana, impeding normal flow of traffic, improper lane change and reducing light transmissions through windows (window tint violation).

Troup County Sheriff’s Sgt. Nathan Taylor, a trained narcotics agent, told the court when he stopped the gold minivan Antoine was driving the morning of Aug. 3 in the southbound lanes of I-85, he noticed the driver was very nervous and shaking. Taylor said he could also tell Antoine’s pulse was elevated.

Taylor testified he started searching the vehicle and found a few flakes of marijuana in the front compartment of the minivan. He said he found the rest of the illegal narcotics stashed inside a black duffel bag in the cargo area.

The narcotics agent said the illegal drugs were worth an estimated $454,000.

Antoine was ordered to be held without bond and his case was bound over to superior court.

He waved to his loved ones as he left the courtroom.

Also in Troup County Magistrate Court on Thursday was a Hogansville man charged with hitting a teenager with a box fan.

Christopher Scott Dire is charged with battery under the Family Violence Act, cruelty to children in the first degree and violation of a family violence order.

According to Troup County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Patrick Tunnell, on Aug. 6 Dire allegedly hit the teenage boy in the face and legs with the box fan at a residence in the 700 block of Corinth Road.

Tunnell said the teenager told him the man had been drinking and got angry when he found out the fan was broken. The boy said Dire took the fan and “slung it,” hitting him in the face and knocking him out of the chair he was sitting in. The man also struck him in the legs with the device.

The teen stated to the investigator he locked himself in a room, and when he came back out Dire threatened to hit him with a hammer.

Tunnell he interviewed the boy almost a week after the event, and said the teen still had marks on his face and legs from where Dire hit him with the fan.

Presiding Judge Vicki Sue McWaters also noted Dire has been living in the home since getting out of prison for one of the same charges: cruelty to children.

Dire was ordered to be held without bond.

Also Thursday, a man who allegedly tried to elude LaGrange police officers by driving through a cemetery without any headlights and crashed into a muddy embankment on Aug. 19 made his first court appearance.

Franderrick Jamal Johnson was charged with driving with a suspended license, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, obstruction of an officer, marijuana possession with the intent to distribute and reckless driving.

According to LaGrange Police Officer Chad Bohannon, he noticed the car Johnson was driving while wrapping up another traffic stop. He told the court he attempted to pull over the vehicle around 11:16 that night because the tag light was out. Instead the car took off, he stated.

Bohannon said he followed the vehicle, but did not chase it, through the Krystals and Beechwood Village parking lots off Commerce Avenue, into Shadowlawn cemetery and onto Beeman Street. That is where Johnson allegedly cut off the headlights to the car while still speeding through the neighborhood, the officer stated.

Bohannon told the court the vehicle fell down a muddy embankment off Foch Street and Johnson took off on foot. Other officers that responded to the scene caught up with him and found a large, clear plastic bag containing a green leafy substance he believed to be marijuana that was an arm’s-length distance from where the man was laying in the woods.

Bohannon stated he found a set of digital scales laying one step away from the driver’s door of the car as it was being moved by a wrecker service. The top to one of the scales was found wedged between the seat and the center console inside the car.

According to the officer, Johnson admitted to the marijuana, but denied the scales were his. He also told Bohannon the car belonged to his girlfriend.

Bohannan said she too denied knowledge of the digital scales.

McWaters denied bond for Johnson, but said the charge of possession with intent to distribute was reduced to just possession because of lack of evidence to prove Johnson was actually dealing drugs.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.