- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2014

A federal court in Atlanta this week sentenced nine former police officers to three to seven years in prison for protecting a series of drug deals in Georgia.

The officers took thousands of dollars in bribes to protect a local gang’s drug deals, often “while wearing uniforms, driving police vehicles or otherwise displaying badges,” the Justice Department said in a press release Thursday.

“Certainly, these departments are filled with dedicated officers who literally risk their lives every day to make our communities safe,” said Sally Quillian Yates, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

“But this case revealed a troubling number of officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies who betrayed their oaths to protect and serve, taking cash from the very criminals they should have been arresting,” Ms. Yates said, adding that the case had “sent shock waves through Georgian law enforcement offices.”

Atlanta-area officers accepted thousands of dollars in bribes for providing protection, including police at one department taking $23,000. The officers then would patrol where the drug deals were happening to make sure they weren’t disturbed — often taking their firearms, badges, uniforms and sometimes their patrol cars.

In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was investigating an Atlanta gang when it was tipped off about the bribery scheme.

ATF and FBI agents set up a drug-deal sting operation involving “multiple kilograms of cocaine” and arranged to have the corrupt cops provide security. With audio and video recordings of everything in hand, federal agents arrested the officers in February last year.

“Officers like these unfortunately tarnish the badge of the committed men and women of law enforcement,” said Ray Brown, acting special agent in charge of the Atlanta ATF Field Office.

The former officers were sentenced Wednesday. Four other people involved in the drug protection scheme, but who did not work in law enforcement, also were sentenced.