Photo by Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Police Officer Tony Griffin (left) was recognized by FBI Special Agent In Charge Brian Lamkin during a Clayton County Commission meeting on Tuesday. Griffin helped expose corruption by a fellow officer, which led to that officer’s conviction in federal court.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has recognized the efforts of a Clayton County police officer in the arrest and conviction of a second officer charged in connection with taking bribes.
Former officer, Jonathan S. Callahan, 28, of Fayetteville, was sentenced Tuesday for accepting bribes to use his law enforcement position to protect an illegal drug transaction, and stealing personal property from a driver during a traffic stop, said federal officials.
Clayton County Police Chief Greg Porter called Callahan's criminal actions "selfish."
“The conviction of former Clayton County Police Officer Jonathan S. Callahan on federal charges is a testimony to the cooperative investigation efforts by the Clayton County Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation," said Porter. "Jonathan S. Callahan’s actions were that of a selfish individual, and not reflective of this department. The Clayton County Police Department will continue to serve with honor, integrity, transparency and professionalism.”
Clayton Officer Tony Griffin was honored by the FBI and Clayton County Commissioners on Tuesday for his help in making the case against Callahan. Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell told Griffin he was proud of him.
“It takes extra ordinary courage to come forward, to expose one of your colleagues that you trained with for years, and that you relied on to back you up,” said Bell. “The first duty you owe to the people is that of duty and honesty and integrity. I’m proud to know one of our officers chose to do the right thing, by exposing corruption.”
The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI and prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys, Brent Alan Gray and Phyllis Clerk.
“The actions of this defendant clearly showed not only his willingness to assist in criminal activities, but also a total disregard for the public trust," said Brian D. Lamkin, special agent in charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office. "This former officer will now answer for those actions. The FBI urges anyone with information regarding public corruption, to include law enforcement officials, to contact their nearest FBI office.”
Callahan was sentenced to five years, two months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.Callahan pleaded guilty to the charges Oct. 24.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Callahan disgraced the uniform of all law enforcement officers.
“It is unthinkable that a citizen stopped by a police officer on our roads would become the victim of highway robbery at the hands of that officer," said Yates. "But this corrupt police officer’s criminal conduct was not limited to that. He also took a bribe from drug dealers and, in return, provided them with police protection. For his own personal gain, this police officer-turned-felon disgraced the uniform proudly worn by so many other trustworthy law enforcement officers.”
Yates said that on Aug. 6, 2010, Callahan, while working as a police officer, provided protection for an undercover transaction which he believed to be a drug deal involving at least a kilogram of cocaine. Callahan agreed to be present to protect the drug deal in exchange for a cash payment of $1,000. During the drug deal, Callahan was on duty, in uniform and in his marked police vehicle. Callahan's participation in the apparent drug transaction formed the basis for his drug and public corruption convictions.
Federal investigators became aware of Callahan's wrongdoing after he stole two firearms from a motorist he had stopped for a traffic violation on July 15, 2010, said Yates.
Stealing the firearms violated the driver’s constitutional right to be free from an unreasonable seizure by a police officer, and this conduct formed the basis for Callahan's civil rights conviction.
–– Staff writer Curt Yeomans contributed to this article.