NBC 11 Atlanta by Michael King - January 24, 2011
ATLANTA, GA -- A former Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy was sentenced on Monday to six years in federal prison on corruption and drug charges. According to prosecutors, Anthony Atwater of Atlanta, at two different times, provided protection for what he believed to be large cocaine deals. For each instance, the 33-year-old agreed to protect those he thought were drug dealers in exchange for $2,000. He was in uniform, in a marked police vehicle and on duty when he provided the protection. "While dressed in his uniform, this former law enforcement officer sold out his badge to people he knew as drug dealers, and chose to protect them rather than the citizens," US Attorney Sally Yates said in a statement released late Monday. "Any sworn officer who thinks they can abandon their oath and become a criminal in police clothing should know this: Your betrayal makes you a criminal ready for federal prison." At Monday's sentencing hearing, prosecutors said FBI agents initially investigated Atwater after getting word that he had illegally searched a Fulton County home while driving a marked car and wearing a Sheriff's Department uniform. According to authorities, Atwater told the resident of the home that he had a warrant to search the home, but refused to show a copy of the warrant and entered to search the home. Atwater was sentenced to six years in prison, to be followed by four years of probation. He was also ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.