Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA — Federal authorities have filed drug and firearms charges against a Georgia sheriff’s deputy they say sold marijuana to an undercover law enforcement agent.
Newton County sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Mathis sold marijuana to a confidential law enforcement source and to an undercover agent on multiple occasions, according to an FBI agent’s sworn statement filed in federal court in Atlanta this week.
During his initial court appearance Friday, a lawyer was appointed to represent him and he was granted $25,000 bond.
“This defendant used his position as a police officer to openly violate the very laws that he was sworn to uphold,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement. “Selling marijuana out of his police car while wearing a badge and uniform is outrageous.”
The FBI began investigating Mathis in April after two law enforcement officers said a confidential source told them he or she had seen a large amount of marijuana in Mathis’ Lithonia apartment during a social visit, the FBI statement says. Mathis told the source he sells marijuana and says he doesn’t worry about being stopped by police because he drives safely and flashes his police credentials if he is pulled over.
The FBI had the source contact Mathis to buy marijuana on several occasions. On at least two occasions, Mathis showed up in his police car, dressed in his sheriff’s deputy uniform and wearing his official gun, the statement says.
The source in May introduced Mathis to an undercover FBI agent who bought marijuana from him on several occasions. At one point, Mathis told the undercover agent he was an officer.
The undercover agent arranged a meeting in August between Mathis and a second undercover agent whom he identified as his supplier and said the second agent might want to buy drugs from Mathis.
Before they left for the meeting, Mathis said he wanted to grab his badge and gun “just in case,” the statement says.
During the meeting with the two undercover agents, Mathis showed his deputy sheriff badge to the second undercover agent. When he saw the agent’s reaction, Mathis said, “Don’t worry, I’m on your side,” the statement says. Mathis told the second agent he could get any amount of marijuana the agent requested and agreed to transport marijuana or cocaine from Alabama to North Carolina for the second agent, the statement says.
FBI agents made video and audio recordings of numerous meetings between Mathis, the confidential source and the undercover agents during which Mathis sold marijuana and said he could get more.
A criminal complaint filed Monday and unsealed Friday charges him with possession and intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana, as well as using and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
The drug charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The firearms charge carries a maximum term of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.