Former Chester High School ROTC instructor allegedly ran marijuana grow

Former Chester High School ROTC instructor allegedly ran marijuana grow

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by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 26 at 6:19 PM

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. -- A former junior ROTC instructor at Chester High School has been arrested and charged for allegedly running a large marijuana growing operation out of his house.

Investigators say a tip they can't discuss led them to James and Alison Banks' house on Pineview Lakes Drive in Chester.

Once inside with a search warrant in hand, deputies say they found more than 100 pounds of marijuana growing in different rooms.

Pictures show the system included lights, fans and irrigation.

The couple surrendered this week.  Both are charged with felony marijuana trafficking.

Investigators aren't saying how long the alleged operation ran out of the house.

Shortly before James Banks' arrest, he resigned as a junior ROTC officer at Chester High School. It’s a title deputies say he held for a couple of years.

Students say they know Banks as the guy walking down the hall in uniform.

Some say considered Banks a role model.

On Pineview Lakes Drive, neighbors say Banks brought his junior ROTC cadets near his house from time to time and would lead them on a two mile run around the lake in front of his house.

Brooke Clinton, public information officer with the Chester Schools, issued this statement:
“Mr. Banks was a JRTOC instructor at Chester High School, but is no longer employed with our district.  We were told by the sheriff's department last Friday that charges were pending.  We have not been told that there is any connection with his school/students.  At this time, the matter is entirely in the hands of our sheriff's department as they investigate.”
Deputies say there's no indication students were buying from Banks' alleged operation.

A retired police officer who is Banks' neighbor says Banks is always nice, and his arrest is disappointing.

James and Alison Banks are free on $25,000 bonds.

Both could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted and a $25,000 fine.

“This is a serious offense, which will not be tolerated in our county,” said Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood.

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