ATLANTA -- Darrell Mathis has been charged with distributing marijuana and using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.
"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. "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, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: "Allegations of law enforcement officers actually engaged in the distribution of drugs is a rare occurrence. When those allegations came to the FBI concerning Newton County Deputy Sheriff Mathis, the FBI swiftly took action. The FBI considers such allegations of criminal conduct by law enforcement officers to be a priority investigative matter and we continue to ask the public to contact their nearest FBI field office with information concerning such activities."
Ezell Brown, Newton County Sheriff, stated: "My office is completely cooperating with the FBI in this investigation. This is an embarrassment to the Newton County Sheriff's Office, as well as law enforcement in general. Mr. Mathis has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation".
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: In April 2013, it came to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Darrell Mathis, a deputy sheriff with the Newton County Sheriff's Office, was engaged in distributing marijuana. From May through September 2013, Mathis sold various quantities of marijuana to a confidential source who was working with the FBI, as well as to an undercover FBI agent. On at least two occasions, Mathis sold marijuana from his marked patrol vehicle while wearing his Newton County Sheriff's Office uniform.
On August 8, 2013, Mathis sold one pound of marijuana to an undercover FBI agent. Following that sale, Mathis and the undercover FBI agent went to meet with another undercover FBI agent to discuss the sale of additional quantities of marijuana. Mathis brought his NCSO badge and his firearm to the meeting. During the meeting, Mathis told the undercover agent, who he believed was a drug dealer, that he was a police officer, pulled out his badge, and stated, "Don't worry, I'm on your side."
Mathis, 40, of Lithonia, Ga., made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard and was released on bond. He was arrested on September 19, 2013, when he met with the undercover agent in possession of one pound of marijuana. Mathis has been a sworn deputy sheriff with Newton County since December 2008.
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.
Members of the public are reminded that a criminal complaint contains only allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.