Three Clinton area men are behind bars today, one of them facing a laundry list of charges that were leveled after he was linked to a January armed robbery and then found to be involved in two other felonious incidents. One of the other suspects, currently serving time for a probation violation, was tied to the same armed robbery and the third just happened to be at the wrong place when one of the arrest was made and was caught with drugs in his possession.
In a series of twist and turns that eventually led to all three arrests, two of the suspects, Sandy James Oates III, 24, of 705 W. Main St., Clinton and Airatren Stevens, 30, Trappers Run Lane, Clinton were taken into custody and charged in connection with the Jan. 4 armed robbery of two men at the William Mary Hotel in Newton Grove.
For that incident Oates and Stevens are facing one count each of robbery with a dangerous weapon and second degree kidnapping.
Oates, who was already serving time for the probation violation, was brought to the Sampson County jail and charged. He remains there under a $100,000 secured bond.
According to Sampson Sheriff’s Cpl. Marcus Smith, deputies were called to assist Newton Grove police following the Jan. 4 robbery at the hotel, located at 505 Fayetteville St. In that incident, two men, ages 32 and 37, were robbed at gunpoint, with cash and assorted other items taken.
In the course of that investigation, Smith said, officers learned that Stevens was a possible suspect. Oates was later determined to be a suspect as well.
Warrants were obtained and Smith was located this week in a vehicle parked at 119 Smiley Lane, just off Indiantown Road in Clinton.
With Stevens at the time of his arrest was Bobby Ray Rich, 34, of Boykin Bridge Road, Clinton. Smith said both men were taken into custody after officers found and seized .9 grams of cocaine and some 60 grams of marijuana — Rich reportedly had .9 grams of cocaine and 9.3 grams of marijuana in his possession, Stevens a total 51 grams of marijuana.
Rich was then charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was placed under a $30,500 bond.
In addition to the armed robbery and kidnapping offenses, officers leveled drug charges against Stevens — possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond, set at $750,000 for the initial charges, was raised by $25,000 when the drug offenses were leveled, Smith said.
But Stevens’ charges continued to grow as the investigation progressed.
Smith said Stevens has also been linked to a January break-in on Timothy Road and now faces additional charges of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of stolen goods, larceny of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon and safe cracking. An additional $250,000 bond was added, leaving Stevens jailed under a total $1.25 million bond.
An investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected, Smith said.