CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- A former Cartersville police officer has been charged with obstructing an FBI drug trafficking investigation by tipping off an informant, the U.S. Attorney's Office has confirmed.
Officials said 31-year-old Bryson-Taylor Wayne Banks of Cartersville, Ga. was arraigned on multiple federal charges. Among them, Banks was charged with unlawfully accessing a law enforcement database and disclosing confidential information.
At the time, Banks was a Cartersville officer assigned to a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) task force. Agents believe he used his access to restricted databases to alert an informant and drug traffickers to the federal investigation.
“His conduct is shocking, especially from someone sworn to uphold the law," U.S. Attorney John A. Horn said. "Leaks of sensitive investigative information undermined the hard work of law enforcement officers and put them in real danger.”
Banks was an officer with the Cartersville Police Department from October 2008 to August 2015. There, authorities said they immediately initiated an internal investigation upon learning of his alleged actions.
Within two weeks, of the start of the investigation, Officer Bryson Taylor Banks was terminated for issues related to conduct over 2 years ago," Cartersville Lt. Michael Bettikoer said. "The Cartersville Police Department has been in full cooperation with all agencies involved pertaining to this investigation's conclusion.”
To begin with, Banks used a confidential informant to gain information on several drug traffickers.
But authorities said that in 2014, he allegedly started giving that informant confidential information which allowed the person to warn drug traffickers.
In 2014 and 2015, the FBI was investigating a drug trafficking organization which included a Georgia prison inmate who was using contraband cell phones to coordinate drug deals. The FBI was authorized to tap the prisoner's phone lines and soon found him communicating with a known trafficker outside the prison.
On Aug. 11, 2015, the FBI informed Banks of its wiretap and that the inmate was arranging the distribution of two kilograms of meth to the other trafficker around 2 p.m. that day.
That's when authorities believe Banks warned his informant of the wiretap and knowledge of the trafficking. That information was then passed along to the trafficker. The inmate soon learned of the investigation and discontinued use of his phones.
In another incident in July 2015, investigators believe Banks sent his informant a photo of another law enforcement informant. He then told his own informant to stay away from that person.
Ultimately, the FBI believes Banks' actions compromised investigations.
“The federal investigation and its subsequent federal charges in this matter was unfortunate but necessary," FBI Special Agent-in-Charge David J. LeValley said. "A separate extensive and intensive federal investigation was clearly being negatively impacted by someone who was believed to be a law enforcement officer with inside information."
He now faces the following charges:
- Unlawful notification of electronic surveillance
- Unlawful disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications
- Use of a communication facility in causing or facilitating the commission of felonies under the controlled substances act
- Misprision of a felony
- Unlawfully accessing a law enforcement database
- Disclosure of confidential information
Banks was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson and indicted by a federal grand jury on June 27.
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