Ex-Nassau County sergeant pleads not guilty to drug trafficking charge

James Hickox faces up to 40 years in prison

James Hickox (News4JAX)

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – Former Nassau County Sheriff’s Office sergeant who is facing a federal drug trafficking charge pleaded not guilty at a court hearing on Thursday.

James Hickox, 37, was indicted Wednesday on one count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

Hickox, who was also part of a DEA task force, was arrested this month and accused of having large amounts of narcotics including cocaine, MDMA and fentanyl, with the intent to sell them.

The indictment specifies that beginning on an unknown date through March 10, 2023, Hickox knowingly possessed “cocaine, MDMA, and 40 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl.”

Hickox mentioned to the judge that he was talking medication for thyroid cancer, which was also mentioned at his first hearing.

A criminal complaint stated that a defendant told the investigators that Hickox and another unnamed officer were stealing money and drugs seized during investigations and that Hickox would also sell some of the drugs for the two and give them a cut of the profit.

When federal agents searched his home, they found narcotics and almost $200,000 in cash. They also analyzed Hickox’s bank accounts and found he routinely deposited thousands of dollars in a day, at multiple ATMs, over a three-year period.

Hickox told them he did not know where the money came from, according to the criminal complaint.

A longtime Florida Highway Patrol trooper was also arrested by the FBI on drug charges on the same day as Hickox. The two were both on the same DEA task force.

It’s unclear if their arrests are connected.

If convicted, Hickox faces a minimum of five years in prison and up to a maximum of 40 years in prison or a potential fine of up to $5 million. Following the prison term, he would face a term of supervised release of no less than four years, up to a maximum of life.

His case is set to go to trial beginning May 1.