In an exclusive interview with Channel 2 Action News, Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson said he expects more of his own jail officers to be arrested as the federal investigation into corruption at the Fulton County Jail continues.
Investigative reporter Mark Winne tracked the FBI investigation for months before breaking the news of four officers arrested at the jail on Thursday.
Three detention officers and a deputy sheriff were arrested on federal charges that they took payments to smuggle contraband, including drugs and cell phones, to jail inmates.
The four former Fulton County Jail employees all entered not-guilty pleas at their first appearance hearings on Thursday.
Jackson told Winne the arrests of his own employees should signal an emphasis on integrity is foremost in the jail’s future as he works to eradicate corruption at the jail by tackling it at the root of the problem.
“This is only the beginning,” said Jackson. “Obviously the FBI is investigating, as they go forth, we expect other employees to be arrested.”
Jackson told Winne it was hard to keep quiet as criticism mounted in recent months over phones and a gun turning up at the jail. But Jackson said he had to protect the sensitive FBI investigation underway at the time.
Jackson said he noticed a contraband problem at the jail last year and turned to the FBI to investigate corruption among his staff.
“The reason I went to the FBI is because I knew this was bigger than just a few employees inside the jail,” said Jackson.
The sheriff indicated he does not eliminate the possibility that someone in a position of rank at the Fulton County Jail may also be involved.
The sheriff told us fifty illegal cell phones were found inside the jail this year.
The contraband problem was recently brought to light when officials said an inmate used a smuggled gun to shoot another inmate in the hand on July 21st.
Investigators said it happened on the seventh floor maximum security wing of the jail, where physical contact is not allowed between inmates and visitors.
Jackson said the four arrests on Thursday were not directly connected to the shooting and the FBI is continuing to investigate how that gun was smuggled into the Fulton County Jail.
Jackson said he promoted Mark Adger from interim to full-time chief jailer later the same day the gun turned up. The sheriff said he already planned to make the announcement that day since Adger had proved he is good at the job over the last few months. Jackson said the incident did not stop him from making the announcement, which he felt was even more important in light of the gun found.
Jackson indicated gangs are an underlying influence in corrupting jail employees. He said at least five gangs have a significant presence there.
“We have gang members that are in there for charges of multiple murders, very violent offenses and they want to have control of the jail the same way they have control of the streets. And that puts a lot of strain on our employees. Some of our employees probably become too close to these gang members and that’s how the contraband is coming in,” said Jackson.
The sheriff is himself a retired special agent in charge.
When Winne asked Jackson if his current position entails more than what he expected to do as a former FBI agent, the sheriff responded, “No and if I ever did that it would be time for me to go.”
Jackson said Chief Deputy Jimmy Carter sent a memo out to all Fulton County Sheriff’s Office employees yesterday giving the numbers for the FBI Corruption Hotline and Internal Affairs.
If you have information about this case or any corruption, call the FBI's public corruption hotline at 877-428-5324.
Fulton Co. Sheriff: More Officers Expected To Be Arrested
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