Spalding County Battalion Chief and Firefighter Indicted for Tipping Off Drug Dealers
ATLANTA - Dwayne Tyrone Coggins and Michael Owens have been arraigned on federal charges for tipping off drug traffickers to police activity in the Griffin area. Coggins and Owens were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 11, 2014.
“When called upon to assist the police, Coggins and Owens’ first instinct was to call the drug dealers to warn them," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Now, they face federal charges for protecting drug dealers.”
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “Many of today’s criminal investigations are complex in nature and often involve other jurisdictions and the assistance of other agencies. While the FBI values the partnerships of those agencies that provide us with so much assistance, the criminal conduct alleged in the federal indictment of these two Spalding County Firefighters cannot be tolerated.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Coggins has been employed by the Spalding County Fire Department since 1990 and, most recently, served as a Battalion Chief. Owens is also employed by the Spalding County Fire Department as a firefighter.
Police regularly gathered at the Spalding County Fire Department before scheduled police activity such as serving arrest warrants. In April and May 2014, both Coggins and Owens warned drug dealers about law enforcement activity in the area before it occurred. They were aware of the police activity because they had been informed by law enforcement about the investigation or had seen officers gathering near the fire station before serving warrants. Police became aware that Coggins and Owens were tipping off drug traffickers to law enforcement activities during the course of an on-going drug investigation.
Dwayne Tyrone Coggins, 47, and Michael Owens, 37, of Griffin, Ga., were arraigned today before Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Kurt R. Erskine is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Newnan Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.