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Leader of NW Ga. drug operation gets 30 years

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A Rome man, who prosecutors say operated a criminal drug enterprise across Northwest Georgia and was provided law-enforcement sensitive information by a former Rome police officer, pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and trafficking in marijuana Tuesday and was subsequently sentenced to 30 years, to serve 20 in prison, under the state’s recidivist statute — he is not eligible for parole.

According to information presented in court:

The guilty plea from Tyson L. Brown, 37, comes over a year after his arrest March 8, 2017, when a six-month long marijuana investigation by the GBI culminated in the execution of search warrants at his home as well as two other residences believed to be stash houses.

In total, police confiscated two firearms, four cars, 12 pounds of marijuana and $127,868. Tyson Brown and his father, Maverick Brown, 58, of a King Bee Circle address, were arrested. The 12 pounds of marijuana, as well as around $37,000, were found at Maverick Brown’s home, which prosecutors said was used as Tyson Brown’s stash house. Maverick Brown’s trial on drug charges is expected to start May 16.

Then on March 13, 2017, former Rome police officer Earnie Edward Cox was arrested after admitting to his role in providing information to Tyson Brown and accepting cash and a $200 Toys “R” Us gift card during an interview with police at the courthouse and en route to the jail. The GBI began intercepting calls from Cox in February of last year after tapping Tyson Brown’s phones.

Police even set up a fake search warrant to “weed out” who was informing Tyson Brown and a call from Cox on Feb. 13, 2017, was recorded of him sharing information on where the Rome-Floyd Metro Task Force was supposed to be going, said Assistant District Attorney Kevin Salmon.

In one call to an undisclosed person, Tyson Brown bragged about having a cop on the payroll who helped him avoid a past search warrant. On March 26, 2016, a search warrant had been executed on his home. But by the time police got there, there was only a gram found sitting on a table — no charges were filed due to the small amount.

Tyson Brown — who was on the radar of law enforcement since 1999, Salmon said — was indicted on a slew of other charges, but the District Attorney’s office agreed to dismiss the other charges for a guilty plea on the two counts. Salmon laid out the four prior felony drug and firearms convictions he had, as the state sought to have him sentenced as a recidivist.

Defense attorney Leah Davis Madden told Judge Billy Sparks of talks with the GBI and DA’s office concerning her client potentially providing information on who his supplier was. But she said the assurances for Tyson Brown, who was fearful of retaliation from associates, for cooperating were not met.

Speaking for her client, Madden said he sold marijuana to provide for his family and was under constant pressure.

“I just wanted to feed my kids,” he said, adding that he knew he did wrong. “I put myself and my family in a world of trouble.”

However, his decision to do so has had far greater implications than “just selling marijuana,” Salmon said, not just for his own family but also the family of Cox and the community kids he supported. He tried to direct kids away from gang activity and drug use, but he himself was supplying it to the community, Salmon said.

“You’re totally misguided in your approach,” Sparks told Tyson Brown.

In his thinking, Sparks said of him, the end justifies the means.

“That’s the same logic Pablo Escobar used,” said Sparks.

Sparks said what police confiscated was just a “snapshot” of his overall operation, and he was “100 percent sure” he sold more than what he was caught with.

 “This is a criminal enterprise,” he said.