SBI official: Drug case against Wrightsville Beach man charges possession, not sales


The Wrightsville Beach man charged with 20 felony drug counts made his first appearance in a Craven County count on Friday and was later released on bail, officials said on Friday.

Thomas Jason Popkin, 39, of 17 Coral Drive, Apt. A, was charged with ten counts each of trafficking in heroin or opium and obtaining a controlled substance by forgery or fraud by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

Thomas Jason Popkin, 39, of Wrightsville Beach.

In a case initiated out of Craven County, the SBI’s Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit charged Popkin with filling prescriptions for  520 10 mg oxycodone pills and 130 15 mg oxycodone pills, according to SBI communications officer Patty McQuillan. Popkin filled fraudulent or forged prescriptions in Craven, Onslow and Pender counties, she said.

North Carolina’s statutes allow for different categories of trafficking charges, and the arrest warrant for Popkin specified that his charges related to possession, not sale, of the pills cited in the warrant., an officials with the SBI said.

After being booked in the New Hanover County Jail on Wednesday, Popkin was transported to the Craven County Jail on Thursday, where he was issued a $100,000 secured bond or $150,000 unsecured bond. Popkin’s charges will be prosecuted in Craven County Court by District Attorney Scott Thomas.

The Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit  charges against Popkin emerged in New Bern, and while county and municipal police can also investigate fraudulent prescription cases, the SBI generally will handle investigations when they involve multiple counties, the SBI official said.

Wrightsville Beach police did not have any record of overdoses, distribution or other problems associated with the type of pills Popkin was charged with possessing, the source said.

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