Accused Food City pharmacy robber charged with selling stolen pills

Jeff Bobo • Aug 30, 2013 at 7:02 PM

CHURCH HILL — The charges are beginning to pile up for the Church Hill man accused of robbing his local Food City pharmacy of a large quantity of pills earlier this month.

On Tuesday, the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office charged James William Arthur, 24, 772 Big Elm Road, Church Hill, with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance and other charges for allegedly selling some of the pills he robbed from the Church Hill Food City on Aug. 15.

Arthur was arrested Aug. 16 at the Church Hill home of a relative where he was staying. The arrest came thanks to tips police received after store surveillance photos were publicized by area media.

As a result of the robbery, Arthur allegedly got away with 174 30-mg oxycodone; 130 4-mg hydromorphone; 69 2-mg hydromorphone; and an undetermined number of 8-mg hydromorphone.

When the HCSO Narcotics Unit searched Arthur’s residence shortly after his arrest, among the pills missing were two of the 30-mg oxycodone; three of the 4-mg hydromorphone; six of the 2-mg hydromorphone; and all of the 8 mg hydromorphone.

Deputies also allegedly found 10 trazadone pills, which is a legend drug, two spoons with residue, two syringes, and $150 in cash, which was stashed in Food City pharmacy pill bottles. The cash is alleged to be the proceeds from the sale of some of the pills.

Aside from the three delivery charges, the HCSO charged Arthur with possession of legend drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, and maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are kept or sold.

According to another HCSO report, on Wednesday the HCSO additionally charged Arthur with theft over $1,000.

No one who was available for comment Thursday knew what that charge pertained to, however, and the warrant affidavit hadn’t been filed in the court clerk’s office as of Thursday afternoon.

On the afternoon of Aug. 15, Arthur allegedly handed a clerk at the Church Hill Food City pharmacy a note demanding various narcotic drugs. The note also stated that if he did not get all the pills on his list, “all pharmacy workers will die.”

Arthur also allegedly stated verbally to one worker that if he didn’t get the pills within 20 seconds, he would shoot them all.

Photos of Arthur and his vehicle were retrieved from store surveillance, posted by local media, and within 24 hours Arthur had been identified and arrested.

Prior to his arrest, however, Church Hill police were already looking for a man matching Arthur’s description who had allegedly been accosting customers at the local Exxon station on Highway 11-W, claiming to be an undercover narcotics officer.

Store clerks reported an incident on Aug. 14 in which Arthur was allegedly bothering customers, and then made statements claiming to be an undercover drug officer with the Hawkins County and Unicoi County sheriff’s offices.

He also allegedly followed one couple to their home on Christian’s Bend Road, claimed to be an undercover drug officer, and demanded to search their vehicle for drugs.

Arthur allegedly video recorded that encounter with his cell phone, and the video was later located by the Church Hill Police Department — along with other suspicious photos and videos.

Police say there were several photos of Arthur in his cell phone posing with handguns, an AR-15 and large quantities of drugs while he’s wearing T-shirts with decals stating either “POLICE” or “SHERIFF.”

Aside from the original robbery charge, he was also charged with three counts of impersonating a police officer.

Arthur remains held without bond in the Hawkins County Jail.

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