Atlanta area officers get federal prison for helping drug dealers

Atlanta Journal-Constitution – by Rhonda Cook

Ten former law enforcement officers from five agencies, in addition to two civilians, have been sentenced to from one to nine years in federal prison for selling their badges to protect drug dealers.

The man who coordinated the protection, a civilian, is to be sentenced in federal court on Wednesday.  

The sentences wrap up an investigation that started in 2011 with an FBI investigation into allegations that cops getting paid to protect drug gangs and cartels, sometimes wearing their uniforms and driving their official cars while working for the criminals.

When the FBI investigation became public with federal indictment 18 months ago, law enforcement officials metro wide were left in shock.

Forest Park Police Chief Dewayne Hobbs said after seeing two of his officers led off in handcuffs he found it “most egregious” that they were working with drug dealers “behind the badge.

“It was sickening to think that two weeks ago I trusted those guys,” Hobbs told The Atlanta Journal Constitution days after the charges were announced in February 2013. “And to some extent, it makes you look around and say, ‘Who else?’”

U.S. Attorney Sally Yates said at the time the indictment was returned, the officers named in it had “sold their badges by taking payoffs from the drug dealers they should have been arresting.”

Her office declined to comment on the cases until after Jerry Mannery Jr., a civilian, is sentenced Wednesday. He has pleaded guilty to coordinating the law enforcement protection for various drug operations.

The sentences were part of binding agreements that also included guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes, who is moving to the federal appeals court based in Atlanta.

The FBI investigation that lead to the guilty pleas and prison sentences began in 2011 after an informant told the federal agents Atlanta area cops were also working as bodyguards for drug dealers while they transacted business, protecting them from competitors as well as other law enforcement investigations.

Payments ranged from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. Some eagerly helped plot the operations, gave suggestions to make them go more smoothly and even talked about the stark possibility they might have to shoot someone.

An informant working with federal agents put the word out that cops were needed to provide protection. Two civilians stepped up, offering names of cops who would be interested.

One of the civilians, Elizabeth Cross, was sentenced to a year in prison.

The first two officers to be recruited were former DeKalb Police Officer Dennis Duren who was sentenced to seven years, and former Stone Mountain officer Denoris Carter. who was to three years.

Others sentenced Monday were:

• Former DeKalb County sheriff’s deputy Gregory Harvey, who had kept his uniform and badge after he left the agency in 2005, was sentenced to nine years.

• Former DeKalb County jailer Monyette McLaurin, six years.

• Former DeKalb County police officer Dorian Williams, seven years.

• Former Forest Park police Sgt. Victor Middlebrook, seven years.

• Private security officer Alexander Hill, five years.

• Former Atlanta police officer Kelvin Allen, five years.

• Former MARTA police officer Marquez Holmes, five years.

• Former Federal Protective Services officer Sharon Peters, three years.

• Former DeKalb County jailer Chase Valentine, 33 months.

The also were ordered to perform hundreds of hours of community service once they are released.

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