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Former Newton deputy pleads guilty to federal charges
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Former Newton deputy Darrell Mathis has pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

"The defendant dealt drugs while armed with a gun while he was a deputy sheriff," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "He was sworn to uphold the law and to protect the public from the crimes that he committed himself. Today's guilty plea provides important reassurance to the community that corrupt law enforcement officers have no place in our community and will be held accountable for their actions."

Ricky Maxwell, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, said, "A career in law enforcement comes with not only immense responsibilities but also temptations to stray from those responsibilities. Former Deputy Mathis unfortunately gave in to those temptations, the results of which ended his career and damaged the public's trust in those others serving honorably. The FBI will continue its efforts to identify, investigate, and present for prosecution, those individuals who engage in similar such corrupt and criminal conduct."

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court, in April 2013, it came to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Mathis, a deputy sheriff with the Newton County Sheriff's Office, was engaged in distributing marijuana. From May through September 2013, 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 August 8, 2013, Mathis sold one 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 to the meeting "just in case." During the meeting, Mathis told the second undercover FBI agent, whom 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 September 19, 2013, when he met with the undercover FBI agent while in possession of one pound of marijuana.

The charge in this case carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years' incarceration, as well as a maximum fine of $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Darrell Mathis, 41, of Lithonia, Georgia, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 5, 2 p.m. before United States District Judge Orinda D. Evans.