Andrews man who staged his death, sentenced in federal court

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) – An Andrews man who staged his own death to flee from criminal charges, was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for drug, gun and Coast Guard offenses Monday.

The United States Attorney's office said Monday that Julius "Butch" Nesbitt, 61, was sentenced in a Charleston courtroom to 151 months imprisonment. He was convicted of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, felon in possession of a firearm and causing the United States Coast Guard to conduct a search when no help was needed.

In addition to the 151 months imprisonment, Nesbitt faces three years supervised release and he was ordered to pay $170,114.06 in restitution for the cost of the United States Coast Guard search in November 2007.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, evidence presented during Nesbitt's  three-day trial in late August established that, beginning at least in 2007 in Andrews, Nesbitt was illegally purchasing oxycodone pills from individuals with prescriptions for those drugs.  Nesbitt would then sell those pills to 10 to 20 customers a day for as much as $50 per pill. Nesbitt possessed and sold over 1,000 oxycodone pills, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office.

On Aug. 2, 2007, the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office and Georgetown Police Department executed a search warrant at Nesbitt's residence and found over 100 oxycodone products, five firearms and a stolen vehicle.  Nesbitt was arrested and charged with several state offenses.

On Nov. 24, 2007, Nesbitt beached his boat and fled to Terre Haute, Indiana because he believed his case was going to be adopted as a federal case, the release states. Nesbitt's girlfriend called in a missing boater report and the Coast Guard, with the aid of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office, launched a two-day search effort utilizing numerous boats and Coast Guard helicopters.

The evidence showed that only a few individuals were privy to Nesbitt's plan prior to his staged boating accident.  However, his mother and most of his family were not aware of his plan and believed that he was missing or dead.  Prior to fleeing, Nesbitt had taken numerous steps to prepare for his flight such as transferring property out of his name and even attempting to secure a birth certificate and social security card in his deceased brother's name.

On Jan. 8, 2008, Nesbitt was arrested by the U.S. Marshal Service in Terre Haute, Indiana.  At that time, he was caught with large amounts of counterfeit money, newspaper clippings from South Carolina related to his disappearance, identification cards with his picture but the name of a close friend, and stolen vehicles from S.C. The U.S. Attorney's Office in the southern district of Indiana prosecuted Nesbitt for counterfeiting and he was convicted and received a sentence of a little more than one year imprisonment. Nesbitt was then returned to S.C. to face the instant charges.

The case was investigated by diversion investigators and special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, deputies of the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office, officers of the Georgetown Police Department and the United States Marshal Service.

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