ATLANTA — Former Newton County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Darrell Mathis has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for possessing a firearm during a drug transaction.
“Mathis abandoned his oath as a deputy sheriff, and chose the life of a drug dealer,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a statement released Thursday. “His decision to violate the law also violated the trust the public places in law enforcement. Mathis will have the next five years in prison to consider his conduct.”
In December, Mathis pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of the North District of Georgia, 40-year-old Mathis, of 100 Wesley Providence Parkway, Lithonia, sold a little more than 2.5 pounds of marijuana over the course of four months to a confidential informant and undercover investigator with the FBI.
During many of the transactions, Mathis was wearing his NCSO uniform and firearm, often appearing in his marked patrol car, according to the complaint.
Based on the allegations in the complaint, a confidential informant first advised the FBI in April that Mathis had about 1 pound of marijuana in his apartment and that he told the informant at that time that he sells marijuana.
From May through September, Mathis sold various quantities of marijuana to a confidential source who was working with the FBI, as well as to an undercover FBI agent. On at least two occasions, Mathis sold marijuana from his marked patrol vehicle while wearing his Newton County Sheriff’s Office uniform.
On Aug. 8, Mathis sold 1 pound of marijuana to an undercover FBI agent. Following that sale, Mathis and the undercover FBI agent went to meet with another undercover FBI agent to discuss the sale of additional quantities of marijuana.
Mathis brought his NCSO badge and his firearm to the meeting. Mathis told the undercover agent that he was bringing his firearm “just in case,” the complaint states.
During the meeting, Mathis told the second undercover FBI agent, who Mathis believed to be a marijuana and cocaine trafficker, that he was a police officer, pulled out his badge, and stated, “Don’t worry, I’m on your side.”
Mathis was arrested on Sept. 19 when he met with the undercover FBI agent while in possession of 1 pound of marijuana. He was charged with distributing marijuana and using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. As part of the plea agreement, the drug charges were not pursued, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Upon learning of Mathis’ arrest, Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown immediately placed Mathis on administrative leave with pay and later dismissed him from the Sheriff’s Office.
“My office is completely cooperating with the FBI in this investigation,” Brown said when Mathis was arrested in September. “This is an embarrassment to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, as well as law enforcement in general.”
Mathis had been employed with the NCSO since 2008 and had no previous disciplinary problems with the Sheriff’s Office.
“Today’s sentencing of former Deputy Mathis should serve notice that, while noting that the vast majority of those who serve within the criminal justice system are faithful to their oaths, the FBI will make those individuals who do violate their sworn oaths as law enforcement officers a priority for investigation and prosecution,” said J. Britt Johnson, special agent in charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.