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Early morning check of suspicious vehicle leads to drug charges

COVINGTON, Ga. – Newton County deputies arrested a Covington man on multiple charges, including drug charges, early Friday morning after finding him in the back of a mini-van wearing only jogging pants.

According to a Newton County Sheriff’s Office incident report, after meeting with Henry County officers at the Newton/Henry line about an attempted theft, Deputy Christopher Allen began conducting a check of businesses in the area. While checking the BP gas station located at 5599 Highway 81 S., he observed a silver 2005 Toyota Sienna parked on the side of the building.

When he checked the van, he found James Christopher Bell, 51, in the middle row passenger seat dressed only in the jogging pants.  Bell reportedly told Allen he had just moved into the area and was sleeping there.

According to the report, when asked why he wasn’t wearing a shirt, Bell said he drove to the station with one on then took it off when he got there. He told Allen he arrived at the store early for a cup of coffee and was waiting for it to open.

Inside the vehicle, Allen observed a black leather jacket, red shirt and a pair of blue jeans with dirt on the knees.  He also observed a pair of black gloves on the dash. According to the report, when Allen asked Bell to step out of the van, he became upset and said the door would not open. When Allen asked him how he got into the back seat, he reportedly said he climbed over the console. He then climbed over the console and exited the vehicle.

According to the report, there was a strong odor of marijuana coming from Bell and the vehicle. Bell reportedly told Allen he was harassing him and had no right to stop him, telling Allen “I’m going to see you again.”

After placing Bell in custody, Allen and Deputy William Holcombe conducted a search of the vehicle. According to the report, Holcombe found a clear baggie and glass pipe containing suspected marijuana near the front passenger seat. He also reportedly found a wooden box containing suspected marijuana and a white pipe and a blue zippered bag containing a spoon, needle and medication. According to the report, the spoon contained suspected methamphetamine.

Allen found two marijuana cigarettes under a seat. He also found a hammer and bolt cutters.

“The tools, black gloves, black jacket and dirty pants led me to believe a crime had been committed or was about to be committed,” Allen wrote in the report. “The bolt cutters had rust on the cutting blades but the rust appeared to have been recently scratched off from being used.”

According to the report, Bell was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Newton County Jail charged with loitering and prowling, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act – methamphetamine and possession of tools during the commission of a crime.