A former Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputy, 55-year-old Randy Strickland pleaded guilty last week before United States District Court Judge William T. Moore, Jr. for his role in trafficking methamphetamine.
According to the evidence presented during his guilty plea hearing, Strickland agreed to act as "security" for individuals he believed were dealing meth, by acting as the lookout. Strickland's drug activities occurred while he was in uniform and armed, and while he was driving his police vehicle. After receiving information about Strickland's apparent criminal activities, Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett immediately requested federal law enforcement assistance. As a result, Strickland's last "security 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 be a drug dealer selling ounces of methamphetamine. 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.
United States Attorney Edward Tarver stated, "Former Deputy Sheriff Strickland's actions tarnished the badge and the community's trust. Police corruption leaves a 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."
"Mr. Strickland abused his position of public trust and demonstrated a complete lack of integrity by protecting people he believed to be meth dealers," said Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlanta. "Thanks to the hard work of HSI special agents and the assistance of our partners at the ATF, FBI, Pierce County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Attorney's Office, his schemes have been broken."
Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, "While the guilty plea of former Pierce County Deputy Sheriff Strickland concludes a sensitive and critical joint investigation, it also concludes one man's career in law enforcement. These law enforcement based public corruption cases clearly illustrate the harm that can be done to the community as well as the criminal justice system, but they also provide an opportunity for those many committed law enforcement officers to re-dedicate themselves to the oaths that they were sworn to uphold."
"The criminal conduct of former Pierce County Deputy Sheriff Strickland is unconscionable and unthinkable for those serving faithfully within the criminal justice community," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Christopher Shaefer. "The guilty plea will provide many opportunities for him to reflect on his actions and serve as notice to others that the ATF and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate this type of conduct."
Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett stated, "It is of utmost importance that the public not perceive that we in law enforcement act as though we are ‘above the law.' The investigation and prosecution of Randy Strickland should reassure the general public that I, as Sheriff will not tolerate law enforcement officers in my jurisdiction that violate the law and the public trust. Those of us who take an oath to serve and protect the public and uphold the constitution must be vigilant in regard to our duties and what the public expects of us."
Strickland faces up to 20 years in prison for his conviction. There is no parole in the federal system. Strickland's sentencing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a presentence investigation report.
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