The DeKalb nine are among 15 police officers, former county jail officers, a contract officer with the Federal Protective Service, and civilians charged in a federal undercover operation.
Their arrests come after a yearlong undercover investigation. All of the charges involved the sale of cocaine.
The defendants face charges of conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments, attempted possession with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. They were arrested Tuesday and made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates called Tuesday “a troubling day for law enforcement” in Atlanta.
“The law enforcement officers charged today sold their badges by taking payoffs from drug dealers that they should have been arresting,” Yates said. “They not only betrayed the citizens they were sworn to protect, they also betrayed the thousands of honest, hard-working law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe.”
Yates said some of the officers provided police escorts to drug dealers and did transactions in the parking lot of a high school.
The 15 defendants arrested Feb. 12 include seven police officers; a contract federal officer who protected the undercover drugs deals; two former sheriff’s deputies who falsely portrayed themselves to be current deputies; and two individuals who falsely represented themselves as officers despite having no connection to a local police department.
Three individuals who are not law enforcement officers, but who acted as intermediaries between the agents and/or cooperators and corrupt officers and assisted with the scheme, are also among those arrested.
Ties to DeKalb
The law enforcement officers and civilians with current or former ties to DeKalb County are:
n DeKalb County Police Department Officers Dennis Duren, 32, of Atlanta and
n Dorian Williams, 25, of Stone Mountain;
n Stone Mountain Police Department Officer Denoris Carter, 42, of Lithonia;
n Contract Federal Protective Service Officer Sharon Peters, 43, of Lithonia;
n Former DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office jail Officers Monyette McLaurin, 37, of Atlanta and
n Chase Valentine, 44, of Covington;
n Gregory Lee Harvey, 26, of Stone Mountain;
n Alexander B. Hill, 22, of Ellenwood; and
n Jerry B. Mannery Jr., 38, of Tucker
Others arrested are:
n Atlanta Police Department Officer Kelvin Allen, 42, of Atlanta;
n Shannon Bass, 38, of Atlanta;
n Elizabeth Coss, 35, of Atlanta;
n Forest Park Police Department Sgts. Victor Middlebrook, 44, of Jonesboro and Andrew Monroe, 57, of Riverdale;
n MARTA Police Department Officer Marquez Holmes, 45, of Jonesboro.
In a statement Wednesday, the DeKalb County Police Department said it fully cooperated in the investigation that resulted in the arrests of Duren and Williams and that both have been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Duren has been employed by the department since Dec. 9, 2002. He was assigned to the Uniform Division/Tucker Precinct.
Williams has been employed by the department since Dec. 31, 2007. He was assigned to the Uniform Division/Tucker Precinct.
Interim Police Chief Lisa Gassner said the alleged actions of the accused officers “is truly disheartening.”
”It is incomprehensible why these officers chose to aid and abet these criminals when they are sworn to protect our community from such offenders,” Gassner said. “These officers do not reflect the character of the hundreds of DeKalb County police officers that wear the badge. Their alleged actions only assist in eroding the public’s trust in those that honorably serve.”
Yates, the U.S. attorney, said the undercover operation arose out of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 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 cooperating individual said that while wearing uniforms, driving police vehicles, or otherwise displaying badges, the officers provided security to the gang members during drug deals.
In affidavits filed in support of the charges, an FBI agent described how drug traffickers sometimes recruit law enforcement officers to maintain a physical presence at drug deals to prevent rival drug groups from intervening and stealing their drugs or money and to keep legitimate law enforcement officers away from the scene.
The police officers, usually in uniform and displaying a weapon 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.
In return for the corrupt officers’ services, the affidavits said the drug dealers often pay the officers thousands of dollars.
Investigators say between October 2011 and November 2011, DeKalb County Police Officer Dennis Duren and Shannon Bass provided protection for what they believed were four separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine.
Duren and Bass accepted cash payments totaling $8,800 for these services. During the transactions, Duren was dressed in his DeKalb County Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt as he patrolled on foot in the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place. After the first two transactions, Duren allegedly offered to drive his patrol vehicle to future transactions for an additional $800 fee and afterward received an additional $800 in cash for using his patrol vehicle in the final transaction in November 2011.
Duren and Bass are each charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. Duren also is charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Between January and February 2013, DeKalb County Police Officer Dorian Williams, working together with Jerry B. Mannery Jr. and Bass, allegedly provided protection for what he and Mannery believed were three separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Williams and Mannery accepted cash payments totaling $18,000 for these services. During the transactions, Williams was dressed in his DeKalb County Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt. He patrolled the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place in his DeKalb Police vehicle.
During a meeting between the three transactions, Williams allegedly instructed Bass to remove any cocaine from the scene if Williams had to shoot someone during the upcoming sale. In another meeting, Williams suggested that future drug transactions should take place in the parking lot of a local high school during the afternoon so that the exchange of backpacks containing drugs and money would not look suspicious. Williams and Mannery are each charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.
Stone Mountain Police Department
Between April and September 2012, Stone Mountain Police Officer Denoris Carter, working together with Mannery, allegedly provided protection for what he and Mannery believed were five separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. For these services, Carter and Mannery accepted cash payments totaling $23,500. For all five transactions, Carter dressed in his Stone Mountain Police uniform.
In four of the deals, investigators say he arrived in his police cruiser and either patrolled or parked in the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place and watched the transactions. During the final transaction in September 2012, Carter was on foot, displaying a firearm in a holster on his belt, and he walked through the parking lot in which the transaction took place and watched the participants.
Finally, during one of the transactions, Carter allegedly agreed to escort the purchaser of the sham cocaine in his police vehicle for several miles until the purchaser reached Highway 78.
Carter is charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments, attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office
In January 2013, former DeKalb County Sheriff jail Officer Monyette McLaurin, working together with Gregory Lee Harvey, allegedly provided protection for what they believed were two separate drug transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine.
Investigators say Harvey already had provided security for two undercover drug transactions in December 2012, falsely representing that he was a DeKalb County detention officer and wearing a black shirt with the letters “SHERIFF” printed across the back during the transactions.
Harvey allegedly then stated that he knew other police officers who wanted to protect drug deals, and in January 2013 he introduced McLaurin as one of these officers.
Investigators say during a meeting to discuss future drug transactions, McLaurin falsely represented that he was a deputy employed by the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office even though his position as a jail officer ended in 2011.
McLaurin and Harvey further stated during this meeting that they may need to kill another person who knew that Harvey had protected drug deals if this person reported the activity to others.
Investigators say during the two transactions in January 2013, McLaurin was dressed in a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office uniform with a badge, and he carried a gun in a holster on his belt. He reportedly accompanied the undercover seller of the cocaine to pick up the drugs from a warehouse, counted the kilograms the seller received, and stood outside the purchaser’s vehicle during the actual transaction.
He allegedly further discussed with the seller whether they should agree upon a signal for the seller to indicate that the sale had gone awry, requiring McLaurin to shoot the drug buyer. For their services, McLaurin and Harvey were paid $12,000 in cash. McLaurin and Harvey are each charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Later in January 2013, McLaurin and Harvey allegedly introduced a second former DeKalb County Sheriff’s jail officer, Chase Valentine, to help provide security for future drug deals.
Like McLaurin, Valentine allegedly falsely represented himself to be a DeKalb County sheriff’s deputy even though his position as a jail officer ended in 2010.
Together with Harvey, Valentine allegedly provided security for one undercover drug transaction on January 17, 2013, during which he wore a DeKalb Sheriff’s Office uniform and a pistol in a holster on his belt.
During the transaction, Valentine allegedly escorted the seller to pick up the sham cocaine, counted the number of kilograms delivered, and stood outside the purchaser’s car during the actual transaction.
For these services, Valentine allegedly received $6,000 in cash. Valentine is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Federal Protective Services
Investigators say that in November 2012, Sharon Peters, who was a contract officer for the Federal Protective Service, worked together with Mannery to provide protection for what they believed were two separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. For these services, Peters and Mannery allegedly accepted cash payments totaling $14,000. For both transactions, Peters parked her vehicle nearby the cars where the sham drugs and money were exchanged and watched the transactions. Before both transactions, Peters told others that she had her pistol with her in the car.
Peters is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
ATF Special Agent in Charge Scott Sweetow said that corrupt public officials undermine the fabric of the nation’s security, overall safety, the public trust, and confidence in those chosen to protect and serve.
“The corruption and abuse of power exemplified in this case can tarnish virtually every aspect of society,” he said.
During the Feb. 12 news conference announcing the arrests at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, Yates was joined by DeKalb Interim Police Chief Lisa Gassner, DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown, Stone Mountain Police Chief Chauncy Troutman, police chiefs from Atlanta and Forest Park, and the FBI and Federal Protective Service District.