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Former Clayton County police officer pleads guilty to drug charges

ATLANTA — A former Clayton County police officer has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine.

Dwayne Penn, 38, of Atlanta was arrested in August with Adrian Demetric Austin, 38, of Atlanta, a suspected drug dealer. Penn was assigned to the U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Task Force at the time of his arrest. He was fired Aug. 28. Austin pleaded guilty to the same charge Jan. 14.

Sentencing for Penn is set Feb. 21 at 2 p.m., before U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Sentencing for Austin is set April 10 at 2 p.m., also before Totenberg. Pursuant to the negotiated plea agreements into which Penn and Austin entered, they each have agreed to a binding 10-year term of imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates called Penn “a drug dealer with a badge.”

“This office is committed to protecting the public’s trust in law enforcement,” Yates said. “Penn was a drug dealer with a badge. He used his official position to traffic drugs and now faces a significant sentence for his betrayal of trust.”

Yates said the testimony and evidence showed that in August, Penn conspired with Austin to use Penn’s official position as a police officer to stage a fake traffic stop of a car that he and Austin believed would contain six kilograms of cocaine. She said the men would conduct a fake arrest of the car’s occupant, seize the cocaine for themselves and then sell the cocaine, sharing their ill-gotten gains.

Fortunately, the person whom Penn and Austin sought to recruit for this corrupt endeavor was cooperating with federal law enforcement and agreed to record meetings with Penn and Austin, Yates said.

In the lead up to the fake arrest and seizure, Penn and Austin met face-to-face with the confidential informant on two separate occasions to plan their operation, she said.

“Penn drove his police car to the planning meetings,” Yates said. “While together, Penn, Austin and the confidential informant discussed the confidential informant obtaining cocaine from the drug source of supply.”

As part of the charade, Penn agreed to handcuff the confidential informant, put the drugs in the trunk of his police car and drive the confidential informant to a second location.

“During one of the meetings, Penn even drove Austin and the confidential informant around the parking lot, scouting out possible spots for various events the next day,” Yates said. “Penn reassured the confidential informant that they could cover their tracks with the source of supply to deflect suspicion.”