- Associated Press - Friday, July 18, 2014

MACON, Ga. (AP) - Federal prosecutors charged four deputy sheriffs in Bibb County with public corruption after an undercover sting caught them stealing money and drugs, and arranging protection for prostitutes, officials said Friday.

The case moved forward in November when FBI agents outfitted an abandoned car with surveillance gear and recorded Bibb County Deputy Sheriff Jermaine Donnell Hill take $1,000 in cash without reporting it, U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said at a news conference. Hill agreed to assist the FBI. He pleaded guilty to theft of government money and making a false statement, and he resigned from his law enforcement job last week.

The Telegraph of Macon (https://bit.ly/1jGuwfj ) reports that Hill’s cooperation led to the arrests of fellow deputies Jimmy Lee Denson, Arthur Howard and DeCarlo C. Lattimore. All three officers pleaded not guilty to one count each of attempted extortion. A federal magistrate set a $10,000 unsecured bond.

Denson’s lawyer, Donald Johstono, said he had not seen the charges against his client and could not comment. Howard’s attorney, Gregory Bushway, said Howard maintains his innocence. It was not immediately clear Friday whether Hill and Lattimore had attorneys.

“We’re not going to tolerate wrongdoers amongst the public that we serve,” Sheriff David Davis said. “I’m certainly not going to tolerate wrongdoers who are working in my office.”

During one sting in February, Lattimore drove his patrol car to an arranged spot where he planned to rob a drug dealer who was actually an undercover FBI agent, Moore said. Hill, who was cooperating with the FBI, pulled over the undercover agent’s vehicle. He and Lattimore searched the car, and Lattimore put $1,000 in his boot, Moore said.

Lattimore and Hill also gave the cocaine they confiscated to a local drug dealer who was supposed to share the profits with the officers, he said.

An undercover agent posing as a drug dealer met Hill and Denson in March, Moore said. They took $2,000 and cocaine from the agent’s car. Once again, the deputies gave the drugs to a local dealer on the condition the deputies would get a share of the proceeds, he said.

In June, Howard met undercover agents posing as a pimp and two prostitutes at a motel room. As authorities recorded the encounter, Howard agreed to help protect the prostitution operation from law enforcement officials in exchange for payments, prosecutors said.

If convicted, Denson, Howard and Lattimore could be sentenced up to 20 years each in prison. Hill faces up to six years following his guilty plea.

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Information from: The Macon Telegraph, https://www.macontelegraph.com

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