MARYVILE (WATE) - A Maryville couple is accused of using prescription pills as way as to make a down payment on a home.
Gary Hill, 41, and his wife, Paula Hill, 39, are facing drug trafficking charges after investigators said they traveled 650 miles from Tennessee to Daytona, Fla. to buy prescription pain pills and sell them for profit.
Law enforcement officials in Volusia, Fla. said this isn't the first time the Hills have traveled to the state for pills. Through an undercover investigation, they found the couple had success with a similar operation in 2011. This time though, it didn't go as planned.
The Tennessee couple bonded out of the Volusia County Jail this afternoon after being charged for attempted trafficking in dangerous drugs.
Armed with nearly $8,000, Gary and Paula Hill tried to buy 800 morphine pills in the Volusia Mall parking lot, but they were met by undercover cops.
Investigators said the couple was hoping to make enough money to build a new house here in Tennessee.
"They had actually pulled permits, the process was in motion, but they needed $12,000 to get started with construction of this house," said Investigator Brandon Haught with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
The couple lives off Highway 72 in Blount County. A neighbor said their arrest caught him off guard.
"In a way it surprises me and in another way it don't because I knew Gary," said Tyson McKeehen, who's know Gary since he was a child. He had some problems with drugs before and had been in the federal prison."
According to records, Gary Hill has been in the Blount County Jail a dozen times, but not since 2005.
"I thought that was all behind him," McKeehen said. "I hadn't heard any activity since he was back in Blount County."
Hill told our sister station, WFTV in Florida, he was just trying to support his family.
"Yeah that was all I was trying to do," Gary Hill said outside of the Volusia County Jail after bonding out.
But McKeehen said he wishes the couple had turned to the community for help.
"I can understand the need for a new house, but that's kind of the wrong way to go about it. I'm surprised by that. I wish they had reached out to the community."
According to investigators, the couple admitted they were using money recently obtained from a settlement to buy the pills. They had planned to bring them back to sell here in East Tennessee.