A former Pierce County deputy sheriff was sentenced Wednesday by a U.S. district court judge to more than seven years in federal prison for providing protection for drug traffickers, according to U.S. attorneys.
According to evidence presented during 55-year-old Randy Strickland's guilty plea and sentencing hearings, Strickland agreed to act as "security" for people he believed were dealing meth by acting as the lookout.
Strickland's drug activities happened while he was in uniform and armed, and while he was driving his police vehicle, U.S. attorneys said.
"Instead of protecting citizens, Strickland chose to serve drug dealers. His actions tarnished the badge and the community's trust," said U.S. attorney Edward Tarver. "While the public should be reminded that the vast majority of law enforcement officers live by their oaths, the public should also know that the U.S. Attorney's Office will prosecute criminals dressed in police clothing."
"The criminal conduct of former Pierce County Deputy Sheriff Randy Strickland is unconscionable and unthinkable for those serving faithfully within the criminal justice community," said special agent in charge Christopher Shaefer, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "(Wednesday's) sentencing of Strickland will serve as notice to others that this conduct will not be tolerated and ATF will use all resources to reduce violent crime."
After receiving information about Strickland's apparent criminal activities, Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett requested federal law enforcement help.
As a result, Strickland's last "protection detail" was for a confidential informant and under the watchful eyes of several federal agents. On that occasion, Strickland agreed to act as the lookout for who he believed to a drug dealer selling ounces of methamphetamine, authorities said.
Shortly after receiving his charged fee of $100, which at Strickland's direction was placed in a potato chip bag on the side of a road, Strickland was arrested by federal authorities, according to U.S. attorneys.
"I'm pleased that justice was served and Mr. Strickland will pay his debt to society for the crimes he committed and his breach of trust to the people he swore to serve," said Bennett.
"Mr. Strickland compromised his integrity and the oath he took to uphold Georgia laws and protect members of society, not to mention putting other law enforcement officers in danger, through his corrupt scheme to provide security for drug traffickers," said Ryan L. Spradlin, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta. "Thanks to the hard work of HSI special agents and our partners at the ATF, FBI, Pierce County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Strickland is being held accountable for this betrayal of the public's trust."
"This case, while centering on a corrupt law enforcement officer, illustrates how the law enforcement community responds swiftly to such breaches of the public trust," said J. Britt Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Office. "The FBI will continue to work with those law enforcement partners in ensuring that the public’s trust in the criminal justice system is well founded and that those officers violating their oaths of office are identified and held accountable."