Sheriff: Walmart shoplifting leads to drug bust

CORTLANDVILLE— A Sunday shoplifting incident led Sheriff’s deputies to arrest a Cortland man for possessing a large narcotics stash he intended to sell, according to the department.

Christopher Duers, 25, was arrested at 7:40 p.m. at Walmart, after the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a small group of disorderly shoplifters at the store, stated Lt. Karl Altmann.

Once there, officers discovered Duers, of 1 E. Main St., stealing items along with 33-year-old Stacy Updike, also of 1 E. Main St., and James Wright, 30, of 18 Sands St., according to the department. Outside, waiting to drive the group away, was Philicia Twomey, 30, of 58 East Court St., Altmann said.

When officers searched Duers they discovered a large cache of narcotics big enough to indicate he intended to sell the drugs, according to the news release. Twomey had a small amount of narcotics and some hypodermic needles on her, Altmann stated.

Narcotics are a class of poppy-based and synthetic drugs that are more specifically referred to as opioids, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Examples include heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone.

The Cortland County Sheriff’s Office did not release what type of narcotic officers stated they discovered on Duers or Twomey.

Duers was previously charged in 2018 with possessing heroin and a hypodermic needle after he ran from police during a Lincoln Avenue traffic stop, according to The Cortland Voice archives.

In Sunday’s arrest, Duers was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a B felony. The charge carries a potential prison sentence of at least one to three years, according to the state penal law. Duers was also charged with two misdemeanors — sixth-degree conspiracy and petit larceny — as well as second-degree unlawful possession of marijuana.

Twomey was charged with second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, possession of a hypodermic instrument and seventh-degree criminal possession of a                

controlled substance, misdemeanors, as well as unlicensed operation and an uninspected motor vehicle, traffic infractions.

Like Duers, Twomey also was previously arrested for drug possession, according to The Cortland Voice archives. In August 2018 she was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, a B felony, after she was found to possess bath salts and oxycodone during a traffic stop, according to the archives.

James Wright was charged with petit larceny, a misdemeanor. Wright was previously arrested in February for using his vehicle as a weapon to crash another man’s vehicle despite having a one-year-old girl and a woman as passengers, according to The Cortland Voice archives.

Updike was charged with petit larceny and sixth-degree conspiracy, misdemeanors. She was previously arrested in June 2018 for shoplifting at the same Cortlandville Walmart.

Duers was arraigned at 1:30 a.m. this morning and released without bail to contact the probation department’s Alternatives to Incarceration program. As a nonviolent felony, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell is not eligible for bail conditions under the bail reform measures enacted Jan. 1. Updike, Wright and Twomey were issued tickets to appear at 1 p.m. June 22 in Cortlandville Town Court.