BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — A Bennettsville man has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison after he was caught with drugs and a gun following a police chase that ended when he crashed into the sign for the Dillon Police Department, according to an announcement Tuesday morning.

Matthew Joshua Tolson, 33, has pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

“One of the largest threats to our community is firearms-related crime, and this office is dedicated to doing everything it can to protect the citizens of South Carolina from those who use firearms to break the law,” U.S. Attorney Corey Ellis said in the announcement.  “Our team, including our local and federal law enforcement partners, worked tirelessly to bring this defendant, an armed lifelong criminal, to justice.” 

In 2021, police attempted to stop Tolson’s purple Dodge Charger when he led them on a high-speed chase through downtown Dillon. He ended up driving his car onto the Dillon City and County Complex lawn and crashing into the Dillon Police Department sign.

Police found a loaded .40 Glock pistol in his lap, and 24 grams of crack cocaine and $300 in cash in his pocket, according to the announcement.

He had previous felony convictions, which banned him from owning a firearm or ammunition.

Judge Sherri Lydon sentenced him to 226 months in prison, which will be followed by five years of court-ordered supervision.