ATLANTA — A Covington resident and a former jailer with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office has been sentenced to federal prison for accepting payment for facilitating drug deals.
Chase Valentine, 44, was sentenced this week to two years and nine months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
A total of 13 defendants, including nine former police officers, were sentenced this week for accepting thousands of dollars in cash payments to provide protection during staged drug deals that were part of a federal undercover operation.
According to United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a press release, the undercover operation arose out of an ATF investigation of an Atlanta-area street gang in August 2011. ATF agents learned from an individual associated with the gang that police officers were involved in protecting the gang’s criminal operations, including drug trafficking crimes. The informant advised that the officers — while wearing uniforms, driving police vehicles, or otherwise displaying badges — provided security to the gang members during drug deals, the press release states.
Three individuals, while not law enforcement officers themselves, provided the cooperator with the names of police officers who wanted to provide security for drug deals. Once these officers were identified, FBI and ATF agents arranged with the cooperator for the officers to provide security for drug transactions that were described in advance to involve the sale of multiple kilograms of cocaine.
The police officers, almost always wearing their uniforms and displaying weapons and occasionally in their police vehicles, patrolled the parking lots where the deals took place and monitored the transactions. These transactions were audio and video recorded.
“This case sent shock waves through Georgia law enforcement offices, both local and federal,” said Yates in the release. “Certainly, these departments are filled with dedicated officers who literally risk their lives every day to make our communities safe. 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.”
According to the Justice Department, Valentine, helped another former DeKalb County Sheriff jail officer, Monyette McLaurin of Atlanta, and another defendant, Gregory Lee Harvey of Stone Mountain, provide security in January 2013 for what he believed was a drug deal. Valentine and McLaurin falsely represented themselves to be DeKalb County sheriff’s deputies even though Valentine had not worked with the sheriff’s office since 2010 and McLaurin’s position in the jail ended in 2011.
Valentine provided security for one undercover drug transaction during which he wore a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office uniform and a pistol in a holster on his belt, the DOJ stated. McLaurin was paid $12,000 cash for his role in the deal, the release states.
Harvey apparently recruited McLaurin and Valentine. He was sentenced for providing protection for two cocaine transactions in December 2012 while wearing a black shirt with the word, “SHERIFF” printed across the back, although he is believed to have protected seven separate transactions that month. In January 2013, he brought McLaurin in on the deals he had arranged, according to the DOJ.
The operation resulted in arrests of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, including the DeKalb County Police Department, Stone Mountain Police Department, Atlanta Police Department, MARTA Police Department, Forest Park Police Department, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Protective Services.
One of the defendants, Alexander Hill of Ellenwood, falsely posed as a Clayton County Police Department officer while providing security for multiple drug transactions.