SC man with thousands of 'hoarded' guns will not go to prison

PAGELAND, S.C. — Brent Nicholson, 52, has served 14 months in jail while awaiting trial, and that's all the time he will serve.

On Wednesday, Nicholson pleaded guilty to three counts of receiving stolen goods and one count of possession of a stolen pistol. He could have faced 30 years in prison.

Nicholson had 3,800 rifles and pistols in his home on McGregor Street when Chesterfield County sheriff's deputies raided the property in October 2015.

Deputies said he was a hoarder and the house was very cluttered. They climbed over junk to get the weapons and boxes of ammunition.

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There was almost no room to walk in the home where Nicholson, his wife and son lived at the time.

Six months later, Pageland police raided the home after Nicholson was released on bond. They found 40 more guns that weren't there before.

Nicholson's bond was revoked and he had been in jail until his court appearance in Darlington on Wednesday. In court, Nicholson's lawyer said his client seems like a hoarder.

Deputy Solicitor Kernard Redmond told the judge he could only prove about 100 of the 3,800 guns were actually stolen, which is one reason they agreed to a probationary sentence after the 14 months Nicholson had already spent in jail.

"Fourteen months is nothing to sneeze at. Some people say it's not enough. I don't want to do a day in jail," Redmond said. "Not everyone is going to be pleased. I had to do what I thought was in the best interest of this case."

Prosecutors also agreed to not ask for prison time for Nicholson because his wife and mother both died while he was awaiting trial. His father is now very ill as well.

Nicholson will be monitored during five years on probation, and police can search his property at any time without a warrant. If they find even one gun, he could spend 10 years in prison and face federal charges.

"He's a convicted felon. He cannot have a gun. If he so much as has a box of ammunition from this point forward, that's another offense," Redmond said.

The thousands of guns at his home are still being stored by the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office and can
be sold at auction.

Nicholson can't get them back but since the state didn't prove they were stolen, he will get the proceeds when they're sold.

The judge also ordered mental-health counseling for Nicholson to deal with his apparent hoarding problem.

On the night of the raid, deputies also found 50 chainsaws, a bunch of fishing poles and other items on Nicholson's property.

He was expected to be released from custody Wednesday.

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