Former Hattiesburg Police Officer Sentenced to 5 Years in Federal Prison
Jackson, Miss. – Thomas Wheeler, 33, a former Hattiesburg, Mississippi, police officer, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate to 61 months in federal prison and a $1,500 fine for attempted possession of 50 kilograms or more of marijuana with the intent to distribute, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze.
On August 8, 2015, a Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper stopped a commercial truck exiting Interstate 20 in Warren County. After observing suspicious activity, a police dog was walked around the vehicle and alerted on the truck. The Trooper obtained consent from Elijah Moore, the driver of the truck, to search the vehicle.
Upon searching the truck, officers found 8 duffle bags containing bricks of marijuana. Subsequently, Moore admitted that he obtained the marijuana from El Paso, Texas, and was transporting it to Mississippi in order to distribute it within the state. Moore also stated that he had exited the ramp to meet his grandson, Thomas Wheeler. Moore stated that Wheeler had agreed to unload the duffle bags of marijuana and transport them to Seminary, Mississippi, to be picked up by Moore at a later date. Wheeler was an off-duty Hattiesburg police officer at the time.
Elijah Moore subsequently pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and was sentenced on March 2, 2017, to 97 months in federal prison and a $1,500 fine.
At the time of the stop of Moore, agents saw a maroon Chevrolet SUV with a Covington County license plate parked on the off-ramp on which Moore’s truck was stopped. Moments after the stop, the maroon Chevrolet left the area on Interstate 20 heading towards Jackson. A traffic stop was later conducted on the maroon Chevrolet and the sole occupant of the vehicle was identified as Thomas Wheeler. Wheeler admitted that he had come to the location to obtain the marijuana from Moore and that Moore would pick the marijuana up from Wheeler later. Wheeler also admitted to having picked up another load of marijuana from Moore and paid $3,000.00.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Southeast Mississippi Safe Streets Task Force in Hattiesburg, which is made up of special agents from the FBI and law enforcement officers from the Office of the Mississippi State Auditor, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and Hattiesburg Police Department, with assistance from the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Pearl Police Department.