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Former Rome police officer pleads guilty to bribery, marijuana trafficking charges

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Earnie Edward Cox

Earnie Edward Cox

Over a year after his arrest following a six-month long marijuana trafficking investigation, a former Rome police officer pled guilty to three felony charges in Floyd County Superior Court on Wednesday morning.

Earnie Edward Cox, 40, will be sentenced next week, after entering an open plea before Judge Billy Sparks on charges of bribery, trafficking in marijuana and violation of oath of office. A sentence could carry as much as 55 years in prison, Sparks told Cox.

In March of last year, Cox was the last of three people arrested in a marijuana trafficking investigation, which was conducted by the GBI, Georgia State Patrol, Rome Police Department and Floyd County District Attorney's Office.

On March 8, 2017, the day law enforcement executed search warrants at three area residences, Cox assisted Tyson Brown, 37, of a Jim Lee Drive address, in a marijuana trafficking organization by providing “law enforcement sensitive information,” to Brown, arrest warrants stated.

Tyson Brown and Maverick Brown, 58, of 102 King Bee Circle, were arrested on marijuana trafficking charges that day after their residences were among those raided. Police confiscated two firearms, 14 pounds of marijuana and $127,868. Cox was then arrested several days later.

As part of the investigation, agents purchased marijuana from Tyson Brown’s residence, and were eventually led to Maverick Brown’s address along with a residence on Camp Street, according to the GBI.

Six months prior to the raid, Rome Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney contacted the GBI about allegations of corruption concerning Cox. He had been a 15-year veteran of the force when he was terminated.

The arrest of Cox was described as a devastating blow to the department, Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett said at that time.

“As a family we are devastated but we still look to ourselves and make sure we are doing the right thing,” she previously said. “This will not be tolerated.”

Cox was in the Floyd County Jail without bond Wednesday, as were Tyson and Maverick Browns. They were also in court Wednesday, and a hearing has been set for another appearance on April 19.