About 240 miles southeast of Atlanta sits rural Pierce County, Georgia. Life is typically quieter and slower there.
But the few local media outlets there have in recent days been jolted by news that a 55-year-old county sheriff’s deputy has been arrested on federal charges of involvement in drug trafficking.
About a week ago, he had his initial appearance in Brunswick’s federal court, where he was ordered held without bail.
Prosecutors say in court documents that they believe the deputy had entered into an agreement with methamphetamine dealers to work as “security.”
His alleged drug-trafficking-related activities include time spent in uniform and behind the wheel of his patrol car, prosecutors said in documents filed with the District Court.
The deputy is accused of acting as a lookout for the alleged drug dealers.
If convicted, the deputy would face a maximum federal prison sentence of 40 years, plus a fine of up to $5 million.
In a press statement, the federal prosecutor noted that the charges are not themselves evidence of criminal activity. The deputy will get his day in court; at trial, the government must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the law officer violated the law.
The investigation was carried out by not only the deputy’s local colleagues, but also by the federal government’s department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI and Homeland Security personnel.
According to a news report, the officer was involved in at least one drug deal that occurred in a rural area near the county seat of Blackshear.
The officer had previously served in the Blackshear Police Department as well as in the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office.
You might recall a similar allegation in Texas earlier this year. In that case, an officer was accused of taking $2,000 to provide security while a cocaine shipment was delivered.
For a police officer, few things can pose a greater threat to both career and freedom than accusations of drug involvement. Everything will be on the line when he has his day in court, which makes his choice of defense attorney a critical one.
Source: The Blackshear Times, “Deputy accused of aiding meth deals,” by Jason Deal, Oct. 30, 2013