FBI: NCSO deputy dealt drugs

Dar­rell Mathis was fired Fri­day af­ter be­ing ar­rested in At­lanta

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

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.

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