A Greenwood man, which Greenwood County Sheriff Tony Davis called one of the most troublesome drug dealers in Greenwood, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to two drug trafficking charges at the Greenwood County Courthouse Thursday.
Karlin Foster, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking cocaine between 28 and 100 grams and one count of trafficking crack cocaine between 28 and 100 grams. Circuit Judge Robin Stillwell sentenced Foster to 10 years in prison on both counts, with the sentences to run concurrently.
Assistant solicitor Shannon Odom handled the case for the state. Davis addresses the court during sentencing, saying he had been receiving information that Foster was dealing drugs since he was working in narcotics nearly 15 years ago.
"Mr. Foster has been in the drug trade a long time," Davis told the court. "My office received information as recently as last week that he was dealing drugs. He has become a major problem."
Agents with the Greenwood County Drug Enforcement Unit went to Foster’s residence in Sep. 2013 to serve an active arrest warrant on Foster. Foster was not at the residence at the time, but his girlfriend was. Agents could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from the house and asked for permission to search the residence. Foster’s girlfriend denied permission to search the residence, so agents obtained a search warrant. After obtaining the search warrant, agents found approximately 83 grams of cocaine and 51 grams of crack in the residence.
Agents arrested Foster’s girlfriend and charged her with trafficking cocaine and trafficking crack. Later the same day, Foster went to the Sheriff’s Office and turned himself in, claiming responsibility for all of the drugs present at the residence. As part of the plea arrangement, charges against Foster’s girlfriend were dropped.
Foster’s mother spoke on behalf of her son during the sentencing phase of the proceeding.
“I do not deny my son has done wrong,” Foster’s mother, Brenda Foster, said. “I ask that this court have mercy as God has mercy on all of us. (Foster) has children who need to be brought up to be good citizens.”
Foster’s attorney, Thomas Austin, told the court that Foster was willing to assist law enforcement in catching other drug dealers, but investigators declined the assistance. Austin also asked for lenience since Foster voluntarily went to the Sheriff’s Office to accept responsibility for the drugs at the residence when he could have let the charges hang over his girlfriend.
Judge Stillwell said during sentencing he felt Foster took a calculated risk in making the decision to sell drugs.
“It appears when I see this amount of drugs you essentially made a calculated decision,” Judge Stillwell said. “You assume a calculated risk. Sometimes when you take a calculated risk you win and sometimes when you take a calculated risk you lose, just like in the business world. Unfortunately, when it comes to drugs, you don’t just lose money.”
Judge Stilwell then handed down a sentence of 10 years in prison on each of the charges to be served concurrently. Both charges are categorized as serious and violent offenses. As such, Foster must serve at least 8 percent of the sentence before being considered for release. The convictions also count as two strikes under South Carolina’s Three Strikes law, meaning if Foster is convicted of a third offense categorized as serious or above, he could face life in prison.