Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Strickland, 55, was arrested on federal charges Friday for his role in the trafficking of methamphetamine. Strickland had his initial appearance in federal court in Brunswick before United States Magistrate Judge James E. Graham, where he was ordered detained without a bond.
According to papers filed with the District Court, Deputy Strickland allegedly agreed to act as “security” for individuals he believed were dealing meth by acting as the lookout. Strickland’s drug activities allegedly occurred while he was in uniform and while he was driving his police vehicle. When Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett received information about Strickland’s apparent criminal activities, he immediately requested federal law enforcement assistance.
United States Attorney Edward Tarver stated, “Police corruption leaves a permanent stain on the good work of our law enforcement community. Make no mistake that defendants who violate the trust of this community, law enforcement or otherwise, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This defendant took an oath to uphold the law and protect the citizens of Pierce County,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Christopher Shaefer. “Instead, he is alleged to have betrayed the community he swore to protect. Corrupt officers unfortunately tarnish the badge worn proudly by the committed men and women of law enforcement. The success of this investigation would not have been possible without the dynamic level of law enforcement cooperation.”
“The result of this arrest demonstrates the strong relationships HSI has established with our federal and local partners,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Brock D. Nicholson, Atlanta, Georgia. “It is a disappointing day when we have to arrest a law enforcement officer in a position of public trust, but maintaining the integrity of our law enforcement system is of upmost importance.”
Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “Public corruption matters in general continue to be the FBI’s highest investigative priorities due to the potential it has to erode public trust. When those corrupt and illegal activities involve a law enforcement official operating within the color of law, the FBI will address them with a greater sense of urgency. While these cases constitute a serious breach of trust by the official or officer involved, the public should be reminded that the vast majority of those working within the criminal justice system are dedicated to their sworn oaths of office. Furthermore, the public should be reassured that the FBI remains committed to working vigorously with our federal, state, and local partners to investigate such matters and hold these individuals committing such crimes accountable for their actions.”
Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett said, “This is a situation where there are no winners. This gives the office of the sheriff a black eye and erodes the confidence of the public in law enforcement. As sheriff, I will not tolerate this type of conduct. I want to reassure the public that we will police ourselves as well as the general public.”
The present charge against Strickland carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years and a fine up to $5,000,000. Mr. Tarver emphasized that a criminal complaint is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by ATF, HSI, FBI, and local law enforcement. Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Gilluly and Tania Groover are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. For additional information, please contact First Assistant United states Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.