Federal authorities charged three Georgia lawmen with extortion by a public official following an undercover operation.
The three men – all deputies with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office – “were extorting money from individuals by wrongful use of actual and threatened force, violence, and fear, and under color of official right,” the FBI said in a statement. The would-be victims in the extortion were federal agents and “persons cooperating with federal authorities.”
Federal officials identified the three charged as: Charlie Stephens, 76; Jeff Sivell, age unknown, and Alvin Malone, 32.
If convicted, the men face up to 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
“The vast majority of law enforcement officers serve the public with honor and distinction,” John S. Comer, acting special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta Field Division, said in a news release. “This type of activity tarnishes the badge of the committed men and women of law enforcement.”
Talbot County is located between Macon and Columbus. The GBI assisted in the investigation.