Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Former Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Sentenced to Prison for Corruption and Drug Charges

ANTHONY C. ATWATER, 33, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced today (January 24) by United States District Judge J. Owen Forrester to serve six years in federal prison on corruption and drug charges.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "While dressed in his uniform, this former law enforcement officer sold out his badge to people he knew as drug dealers, and chose to protect them rather than the citizens. Any sworn officer who thinks they can abandon their oath and become a criminal in police clothing should know this: Your betrayal makes you a criminal ready for federal prison."

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin said, "Having the public's trust is paramount in order for the criminal justice system to work effectively. It is for this reason that the FBI makes such public corruption matters a priority. While the public can be reassured that the vast majority of law enforcement personnel do uphold their sworn oaths of office with great vigor, those that choose to stray down a similar path as that of Atwater can expect a similar fate."

IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Reginael D. McDaniel said of the case, "Public Safety Officers hold positions of trust in the eyes of the public and violation of this trust can send damaging ripple effects throughout the community. Today's sentencing demonstrates the government s determination to restore and ensure that trust."

ATWATER was sentenced to six years in prison to be followed by four years of supervised release, and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service. ATWATER pleaded guilty to the charges on July 21, 2010.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: On two occasions in 2010, ATWATER provided protection for what he believed to be multi-kilogram cocaine deals. For each deal, ATWATER agreed to protect the people he thought were drug dealers in exchange for $2,000. On both of those occasions, ATWATER was on duty, in uniform, and in his marked police vehicle when he provided the protection. ATWATER's participation in each of these two drug transactions forms the basis for both the corruption and the drug charges.

At today's sentencing hearing, prosecutors told the Court that after ATWATER's arrest, Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated a report that ATWATER illegally searched the home of a Fulton County resident while driving a marked Fulton County Sheriff's Department vehicle and wearing a Fulton County Sheriff's Department uniform. ATWATER incorrectly told the resident that he had an arrest warrant for an individual inside of the residence. However, he refused to show the arrest warrant to the resident upon request. ATWATER then proceeded to enter and search the residence and again refused to show or leave a copy of the purported arrest warrant with the resident as he left the residence.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.

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