BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A former Appling County sheriff's deputy admitted to a federal judge Wednesday that he tipped off a suspected marijuana trafficker to a pending raid by state and federal narcotics task force agents in January.
Richard W. Crosby, 36, of Nicholls, Ga., pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the distribution of controlled substances, marijuana. He faces up to 21/2 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Crosby offered no explanation but told Chief U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood it was true that while a deputy on Jan. 19 he sent a warning to the suspect on the night before agents planned to search his Baxley home.
The raid was intended to culminate an undercover investigation in which narcotics agents bought marijuana from the suspect, identified as C.D., on several occasions at the home, Special Agent Joe McCutchen of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation testified.
McCutchen said Crosby was among the Appling County sheriff's deputies present during a planning meeting for the raid. Afterward, Crosby told a man identified as J.J. to tell C.D. to stay away from home because agents were going to search it and arrest him, McCutchen testified.
U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver has said the evidence indicated Crosby sabotaged the case out of interagency rivalry rather than for monetary gain.
At the time, Crosby had worked as a patrol deputy for about a year and a half. Sheriff Benny DeLoach fired Crosby on Feb. 16 after investigators notified him of their findings.
In exchange for Crosby's guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed a related charge of making a false statement to investigators.
Wood allowed Crosby to remain free on $20,000 bail while awaiting sentencing