FBI: NCSO deputy dealt drugs
Darrell Mathis was fired Friday after being arrested in Atlanta
A Newton County Sheriff’s Office deputy was arrested by the FBI in Atlanta Thursday on drug trafficking charges and has been terminated, Sheriff Ezell Brown said late Friday.
Deputy Darrell Mathis, who had been with the NCSO since December 2008, was arrested after allegedly selling marijuana to an undercover law enforcement agent and an FBI confidential source on multiple occasions. He was charged with distributing marijuana and using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, according to the FBI’s press release.
Brown said there is no suspicion that any other Newton County deputies are involved in illegal activities.
“We’re going to do a thorough background investigation to include talking with his peers and so forth here among the organization,” Brown said Friday.
In a statement, Brown called Mathis’ arrest “an embarrassment to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, as well as law enforcement in general,” later
“This is an embarrassment to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, as well as law enforcement in general. Mathis failed to obey the oath of office that covers the constitution and the laws of Georgia and he’s going to suffering the consequences. ”
— Ezell Brown Newton County Sheriff
adding “... I guess this is a proven point here that no matter how much teaching or training you give an individual — I guess greed forced them to break the very law that they have held to uphold.”
Capt. Keith Crum said the sheriff’s office saw no indication of Mathis’ alleged illegal activity.
“There’s been no indication of this type of activity in the past. He went through a POST (Peace Officer Standards Training) background check; this is something that came out of the blue,” Crum said.
Mathis, 40, initially invited the FBI source to his Lithonia apartment for a social visit in April, and the source saw several large bags of marijuana, according to a sworn statement by an FBI agent filed in federal court in Atlanta.
During the initial drug sale on April 25, Mathis exited his patrol car wearing his NCSO uniform and gun and allegedly sold the source $100 in marijuana, according to the FBI statement; he allegedly sold marijuana to the source and an undercover agent on multiple occasions.
Mathis was arrested Thursday when he allegedly had one pound of marijuana on him and met with the undercover agent.
“This defendant used his position as a police officer to openly violate the very laws that he was sworn to uphold,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in an FBI press release. “Selling marijuana out of his police car while wearing a badge and uniform is outrageous. This case is a reminder that no one is above the law.”
Mark F. Giuliano, special agent in charge at the FBI Atlanta Field Office, said allegations of criminal conduct by law enforcement officers are considered a priority investigative matter, and “we continue to ask the public to contact their nearest FBI field office with information concerning such activities.”
The charge of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense carries a maximum term of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Mathis made his initial court appearance Friday and was released on $25,000 bond; a lawyer was appointed to him.
“Mathis failed to obey the oath of office that covers the constitution and the laws of Georgia, and he’s going to suffering the consequences,” Brown said.
Reporter Danielle Everson contributed to this story.