State probation agent caught in drug raid, suspended - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

State probation agent caught in drug raid, suspended

Derick Hardwick (Source: Marion County Detention Center) Derick Hardwick (Source: Marion County Detention Center)

MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Investigators in the Pee Dee say they spotted a state employee during a drug raid, but she is not facing any charges.

A major drug bust in Marion County Friday has landed Mullin native, Derick Chad Hardwick, behind bars on nearly a quarter of a $1 million bond. But a state probation services agent, at the scene of the drug bust is not in any trouble.

Sheriff Mark Richardson with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said investigators with the Marion County Combined Drug Unit executed a search warrant along South Main Street Friday after receiving numerous complaints from citizens.

Deputies say they weren't surprised to find cocaine and anabolic steroids in the home, but were surprised to find a state employee.

"There was a female there that worked with probation, parole and pardon services and she was detained at the time, questioned and later released," said Sheriff Richardson.

Richardson says there was no proof that employee, Michele Barnhill, was involved in any illegal activity. He says she was thoroughly searched and didn't have any drugs on her.

"He admitted to us the drugs were his and she had no involvement," said Richardson.

Even so, some people in Mullins say they can't believe she isn't in trouble.

"I'm surprised she wasn't arrested, I mean if it would have been anybody else, they would have," said a neighbor of Hardwick's.

Because of that investigation, Derick Chad Hardwick, 31, was arrested and charged with the following:

  • Two counts of distribution of cocaine
  • Two counts of distribution of a schedule IV controlled substance
  • Distribution of a schedule III controlled substance
  • Five counts of distribution of controlled substance in proximity to school or park
  • Possession with intent to distribute cocaine
  • Possession with intent to distribute a schedule IV controlled substance
  • Two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in proximity to school or park
  • Possession of anabolic steroids

Hardwick is currently incarcerated at the Marion County Detention Center on a $245,000 bond.

South Carolina Probation, Parole and Pardon Services public information representative Peter O'Boyle, says the department has started an internal investigation into why Barnhill was at the home at the time of the drug raid.

If investigators suspect she was involved in any illegal activity, O'Boyle says she could be charged and the case will be handed over to SLED.

Anyone with information on any drug activity going on in their area should contact the Marion County Combined Drug Unit at 843-423-2056.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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