Arrested by FBI agents last week for protecting and extorting a local drug dealer, a Mississippi sheriff resigned Tuesday and was granted house arrest instead of pre-trial detention. According to federal prosecutors, Tallahatchie County Sheriff William Brewer had been profiting from illicit drug deals while protecting a dealer for at least 15 years.
In 2003, a then-teenage drug dealer “started participating in illegal activity with Brewer,” according to the recent affidavit. The drug dealer, who has not been publicly identified, alleges that he robbed other dealers and gave the money to the sheriff while keeping the drugs in order to sell them in Tallahatchie County. After selling the illegal drugs, including methamphetamine and crack and powder cocaine, the dealer also allegedly shared the profits with Brewer.
A few years ago, Brewer discovered that the dealer began selling meth purchased from other drug dealers. Instead of arresting the dealer or his suppliers, Brewer ordered the dealer to begin paying him $500 to $600 every two weeks from his drug profits.
“On more than one occasion, Brewer warned (the informant) to proceed with caution while conducting illegal activity due to the presence of local, state and/or federal law enforcement,” FBI Special Agent Justin Niedzwecki swore in the affidavit.
According to the dealer’s sworn statement, he robbed drug dealers at least 50 times for Brewer between 2003 and 2018. On June 12, the FBI confronted the dealer and convinced him to become a confidential informant for them.
In late July, the informant recorded several conversations with Brewer discussing a plan to rob a fictional drug dealer of nine to 10 kilograms of methamphetamine. After falsely claiming that the robbery was completed, the informant was ordered to pay Brewer $10,000 in cash bribes. Unbeknownst to Brewer, the FBI had photographed the money along with the serial numbers to each bill.
In their final conversation, the informant told Brewer that he had sold all the meth that they had stolen. According to the FBI, Brewer encouraged the informant “to continue selling methamphetamine” and be cautious of undercover law enforcement officers.
Fifteen days later, Brewer was arrested by FBI agents and charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, and extortion and bribery under color of official right in violation of the Hobbs Act. If convicted, Brewer faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, along with fines ranging from $250,000 to $1 million per count.
After residing in jail over the weekend, Brewer resigned as sheriff ahead of his court appearance on Tuesday. Brewer was granted a $25,000 secured bond and house arrest after Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Mims withdrew the government’s request for pre-trial detention.