JURY CONVICTS FOUR FORMER GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS OFFICERS
OF BRIBERY AND DRUG TRAFFICKING
NEWNAN, Ga. – Jeremy Fluellen, Chelsey Mayweather, Tramaine Tucker, and Christopher Williams have been convicted by a federal jury after a week-long trial, on fifteen counts of cocaine and methamphetamine distribution, and seven counts of extortion under color of official right. Prior to trial, 44 other corrections officers pleaded guilty in a series of cases related to this investigation at Georgia Department of Corrections institutions across the state.
“It’s troubling that so many officers from state correctional institutions across Georgia were willing to sell their badges for personal payoffs from purported drug dealers,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “They not only betrayed the institutions they were sworn to protect, but they also betrayed the ideals that honest, hard-working correctional officers uphold every day. They also directly contributed to the hurtful criminal activity both inside and outside the prisons they served.”
“The federal convictions of these four State of Georgia corrections officers, brought about as part of a larger FBI investigation sends a much needed message that there is a cost if you sell your badge. These guards abdicated their responsibilities within the Georgia Department of Corrections at a time when corrections facilities in Georgia and elsewhere across the nation are being inundated with smuggled contraband smart phones that end up posing a larger problem to the public as well as the correction facility itself. Because of the vast harm that it creates in terms of public safety and the public’s trust of law enforcement, the FBI will continue to make public corruption its number one criminal program across the board, to include those that begin within the confines of a prison,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
“We are pleased to see that justice has been served on these individuals for their role in jeopardizing the safe and secure operations of our facilities,” said GDC Commissioner Gregory C. Dozier. “Ridding our prisons of corrupt staff and shedding light on those who choose a path of dishonor continues to be one of our top priorities.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: The Georgia Department of Corrections (“GA DOC”) is the agency responsible for overseeing the operations of the Georgia state prison system and its more than 50,000 inmates. During a federal investigation of GA DOC employees and inmates, the FBI uncovered that correctional officers were smuggling contraband (including controlled substances and cellular telephones) into state prisons. Inmates used many of those contraband cell phones to commit wire fraud, money laundering, identity theft, and drug trafficking.
The operation also revealed that numerous GA DOC officers were willing to use their law enforcement uniforms and credentials to protect what they believed were drug deals involving multiple kilograms of methamphetamine and cocaine. In a series of undercover operations, more than 45 correctional officers used their law enforcement status to protect drug deals in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash bribe payments. During the undercover deals, the correctional officers generally wore their GA DOC uniforms or had their GA DOC badges in an effort to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
After a weeklong trial, a federal jury returned the following guilty verdicts against defendants on all counts charged against them:
· Jeremy Fluellen, 28, of Sparta, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Hancock State Prison and on the GA DOC tactical unit (also known as the COBRA Squad), was convicted of two counts of attempted distribution of cocaine, and two counts of extortion under color of official right;
· Chelsey Mayweather, 25, of Milledgeville, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Baldwin State Prison, was convicted of two counts of attempting to distribute cocaine and/or methamphetamine, and two counts of extortion under color of official right;
· Tramaine Tucker, 28, of Sparta, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Hancock State Prison and Riverbend Correctional Facility, was convicted of two counts of attempting to distribute cocaine and/or methamphetamine, and one count of extortion under color of official right; and
· Christopher Williams, 26, of Sparta, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Hancock State Prison, was convicted of nine counts of attempting to distribute cocaine and/or methamphetamine, and two counts of extortion under color of official right.
Previously, numerous others were also charged as part of the overall investigation of the GA DOC. In total, this extensive operation has resulted in charges against approximately 130 prison employees, inmates, and non-incarcerated co-conspirators.
Sentencing for Jeremy Fluellen, Chelsey Mayweather, Tramaine Tucker, and Christopher Williams will occur July 25, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.
These cases are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Georgia Department of Corrections Office of Professional Standards.
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