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Former US Marshal pleads guilty to drug scheme

Dwayne A. Penn struck a deal with federal prosecutors to accept 10-year prison term followed by five years of supervised release

By Marcus K. Garner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — A former Clayton County police officer admitted Tuesday to scheming to steal cocaine from a drug supplier and resell it for his own profit.

Dwayne A. Penn struck a deal with federal prosecutors to accept 10-year prison term followed by five years of supervised release in exchange for a guilty plea.

A federal judge next month will determine whether to accept the plea agreement on the single charge of conspiracy to possess more than five kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

"It could have been a lot worse," Penn's attorney, Michael Martin, said Tuesday after the plea hearing. "He can still come out a relatively young man."

Penn, 38, was facing up to 40 years in prison for the conspiracy charge as well as cocaine possession, gun possession and other charges for his part in the Aug. 28, 2013 plan.

According to court officials, Penn teamed up with an accused drug dealer to set up a bogus narcotics bust and arrest, then resell what they confiscated.

An FBI confidential informant wearing a wire recorded phone conversations and face-to-face meetings with Penn and co-defendant Adrian Demetric Austin as they planned the caper, authorities said.

On the day of the phony sting, FBI and DEA agents watched as Penn and Austin stopped a drug supplier and took four bricks of cocaine from him, with the aid of the informant, before allowing the supplier to escape.

Federal agents later arrested Penn and Austin.

Penn, a Clayton police officer for nine years, had been shot in the face in the line of duty his first year as an officer and was a part of the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force at the time of his arrest.

He was fired.

"He's a good man and a good cop who shed blood for his job," Martin said of his client. "He just did a stupid thing."

With authorities having recordings of Penn planning the heist, Martin said his hands would've been tied if the case had gone to trial.

"The allegations were not defensible," he said.

"Today he is sad for his family and remorseful for what he did, and he's ready to accept the consequences."

Penn will remain in the U.S. penitentiary in Atlanta until his sentencing on Feb. 21.

Austin, Penn's co-defendant, pleaded guilty in the case on Jan. 14. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 10.

Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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