Seat-belt stop leads to multiple charges for Johnson City man

John Thompson • Aug 6, 2013 at 5:12 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Not wearing seat belts led to more serious charges for some people stopped by the Elizabethton Police Department on Friday afternoon.

Officer Doug Combs stopped a Ford Explorer in the parking lot of McDonald’s on Broad Street because the driver and passenger were not wearing seat belts. The passenger identified himself as “Terry Lunsford.” Combs said the photograph in the computer system did not match the passenger. Combs then asked the passenger for any other identifying documents.

Combs said the passenger kept going past his Social Security Card in his wallet. He said the passenger finally admitted he was Jerry Lee Tolley Jr., 26, 1808 Mary St., Johnson City. Combs then placed him under arrest for criminal impersonation. A records check indicated Tolley had two outstanding warrants charging him with violation of probation and failure to appear.

A search was conducted and Combs said a pipe containing suspected marijuana residue was found in Tolley’s sock, along with Tolley’s identification card and a hypodermic needle. A strip of Suboxone was found near the passenger seat. Tolley was then charged with simple possession of drugs and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

While Tolley was being booked into the Carter County Detention Center, Sgt. Samantha Beckett said she noticed a strong odor. She began looking under chairs. She found some marijuana packed under the chair where Tolley had sat.

When Tolley was questioned, Beckett said he admitted he had come to the jail with the marijuana in his mouth, but he couldn’t swallow it. When he could not find a place to throw it out, he said he packed it under his seat. Beckett then charged Tolley with introduction of contraband into a penal facility.

In an unrelated incident on the same afternoon, Officer James Sexton of the Elizabethton Police Department stopped the driver of an orange Dodge Stealth on Patriot Drive for not wearing his seat belt.

The driver was identified as Leslie Kent Carpenter, 54, 193 Sparks Road, Johnson City. Sexton said a records check indicated his license was revoked because of a drunken driving conviction. Carpenter was issued a criminal summons charging him with violation of the seat belt law, driving on a revoked license and no proof of insurance. His car was seized in accordance with state law.

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