Federal Investigation Leads To Arrests of Ten Atlanta Metro Area Police Officers for Guarding Drug Deals

Bill Torpy and Steve Visser
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
February 18, 2013

 

An investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office has ensnared and led to the arrests of 10 current and former Atlanta metro area police officers, including eight pictured here: (top row) Denoris Carter; Victor Middlebrook; Chase Valentine; Kelvin Allen; (bottom row) Dennis Duren; Monyette McLaurin; Andrew Monroe and Marquez Holmes.

An investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office has ensnared and led to the arrests of 10 current and former Atlanta metro area police officers, including eight pictured here: (top row) Denoris Carter; Victor Middlebrook; Chase Valentine; Kelvin Allen; (bottom row) Dennis Duren; Monyette McLaurin; Andrew Monroe and Marquez Holmes.

All eight Forest Park police sergeants were called to the department Tuesday for routine training. Victor Middlebrook and Andrew Monroe, two solid officers recently promoted to sergeant, were teamed up and told to head to their training station.

They then walked into a room filled with federal agents and their boss, Chief Dwayne Hobbs, who was having one of the worst days of his 40-year career. The two sergeants were being arrested, accused of being part of a group of Atlanta area officers who allegedly served as bodyguards for agents posing as drug dealers.

Hobbs was flummoxed when federal agents briefed him on the charges earlier in the month. The gregarious Middlebrook, 44, was admired by the community and two years ago was voted by his comrades as the department’s Officer of the Year. Monroe, 57, was a ramrod-straight former military man with 11 years on the force. But the two allegedly received $24,000 last fall to stand guard for what they thought were multi-kilo cocaine deals.

“What’s most egregious was they were doing it behind the badge, which makes it worse in my book,” said Hobbs. “It was sickening to think that two weeks ago I trusted those guys. And to some extent it makes you look around and say, ‘Who else?’ ”

Police officers in six different metro departments and in the Federal Protective Services are likely processing many of the same confusing thoughts. Seven metro area officers, two former DeKalb County jailers and a federal contract officer all allegedly sold their badges.

A close examination by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of affidavits, court files and interviews with police officials shows that several of the officers arrested last week were eager to be corrupted.

The charges are the most widespread case of police corruption seen in metro Atlanta in years. In 1996, a group of Atlanta officers, mostly from Zone 3 in Grant Park, were convicted of shaking down drug dealers. And six years ago, several Atlanta narcotics officers were convicted on corruption charges after a 92-year-old woman was killed in an illegal raid.

But those two scandals were limited to corrupt cops in the same unit. In the current case, the corruption has metastasized among a much wider, more disperse group of officers.

The accused come from the DeKalb County Police Department, as well as forces from Stone Mountain, Atlanta, Forest Park and MARTA. Some had problems with alcohol or domestic issues. Many had financial problems. At least three — including Middlebrook — have filed for bankruptcy.

Last week’s charges were shocking. Officers often guarded the illicit transactions while in uniform, sometimes even using their patrol cars as a bonus. Payments ranged from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. Some eagerly helped plot the operations, gave suggestions to make them go more smoothly and even talked about the stark possibility they might have to shoot someone. After hearing two such violent suggestions last month, federal authorities shut down the 18-month operation.

Five civilians were also arrested in the sting, allegedly helping hook up the street gang with the cops.

The operation started in August 2011, when a street gang associate told agents for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that some Atlanta area cops served as bodyguards for drug deals. Investigators say a dirty cop standing guard during a drug exchange is a valuable asset for dealers, ensuring they will not be robbed by other criminals or busted by the law.

Read the full article— Corruption scandal shocks, saddens metro law enforcement