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Georgia cop accused of protecting drug deals, stealing from motorists

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Clayton County, Georgia, police officer indicted for alleged corruption
  • Indictment says he took money to protect drug deals and stole from motorists
  • It also alleges he possessed a firearm illegally

(CNN) -- A Clayton County, Georgia, police officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he took money to protect illegal drug deals, possessed a stolen firearm and stole personal property from drivers during traffic stops, a U.S. attorney announced Wednesday.

Jonathan Callahan made an initial appearance Wednesday before federal Magistrate Judge C. Christopher Hagy.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "As a police officer, Officer Callahan took an oath to serve and protect the public. Instead, he abandoned that oath and used his position to protect drug dealers and steal from the citizens he was sworn to protect."

Three times this month, Callahan -- while on duty -- "was paid to aid and abet others in possessing with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of cocaine," said a U.S. Justice Department a news release that cited Yates, the indictment and information presented in court.

The indictment also charges that on July 15, Callahan -- also while on duty -- stole two firearms from a motorist he had stopped for a traffic violation. The next day, again while on duty, Callahan allegedly stole money from another driver during a traffic stop, the news release said.

The indictment alleges those thefts violated both drivers' constitutional rights. It also charges that on Tuesday, Callahan was in possession of a stolen firearm.

Upon conviction, each charge of attempting to aid and abet others in possessing the cocaine with intent to distribute would carry a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, the news release said.

Each charge of accepting money to use his law enforcement position to protect illegal drug deals would carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 250,000, it said. The charge of possession of a stolen firearm would carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Each charge of deprivation of civil rights by stealing property from a driver would carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

The FBI and Clayton County Police are continuing their investigation, the U.S. attorney's office said. Atlanta-based FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Lamkin is quoted in the announcement as saying the FBI places a high priority on such investigations because "acts such as those alleged in (Callahan's) indictment can often erode the public's trust in its law enforcement officers."

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