A Hall County corrections officer has been arrested by the Banks County Sheriff’s Office in connection with his alleged role in a multimillion-dollar money-laundering and drug-trafficking operation in Maysville.
Devin Cain Ledford, 37, of Commerce has been employed with Hall County since 2008, Hall sheriff’s office spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes said in a Thursday news release. Cain served as an officer in the road maintenance division.
Hall County Human Resources Director Bill Moats said Ledford has been placed on administrative leave.
“Hall County takes this matter very serious, and as soon as we became aware of the situation (Thursday) morning, the decision was made to place Ledford on administrative leave, pending an internal affairs investigation initiated by (the) Hall County Sheriff’s Office,” he said.
Per standard practice, Bailes said, the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council has been informed of Ledford’s charges. The law enforcement certifying agency will conduct an independent investigation.
Authorities in Banks County had announced Wednesday the arrests of nine people stemming from an “elaborate” prescription drug criminal scheme. The accused were indicted on eight counts each under the Georgia Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.
“The criminal ring is suspected of operating in the area for several years,” said Banks sheriff’s office spokeswoman Sgt. Carissa McFaddin. “Those involved were obtaining prescriptions for medication from multiple physicians in not only Georgia but also other states.”
That total exceeded 49 physicians, she said.
Investigators said they believe the head of the operation is Brian William Craig of Maysville, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence in Georgia for drug violations out of Hall County, McFaddin said.
Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed said the RICO investigation began with a Jan. 9 search of Craig’s home by Banks deputies and Appalachian Drug Task Force agents.
“Several pieces of valuable evidence and proceeds of the crimes were seized, leaving the investigators to follow a long and exhausting paper trail ever since,” he said. “The investigators involved have conducted multiple search warrants on doctor offices over the past several months. Numerous people have been interviewed and a lot of time has gone into the investigation in regards to tracking the evidence against those involved.”
The case was indicted in late May by a Banks County grand jury, and authorities executed arrests after receiving the bench warrants from Piedmont Superior Court.
Speed thanked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for helping the department manage the investigation.
“This has been a great example of the reasoning behind us joining a GBI-commanded drug task force,” he said. “They have the expertise and resources that an agency of our size cannot afford on our own.”
In a 15-month period, McFaddin said, close to 30,000 oxycodone pills were obtained and distributed at a street value exceeding $730,000.
A conviction under Georgia’s RICO statute is punishable with a five- to 20-year sentence, a fine, or both. There are possible civil penalties, too. A judge can impose a fine up to three times the amount of any money obtained by the defendant in the scheme.
Certain civil penalties have already been levied as a result of the investigation; authorities seized 11 vehicles, eight ATVs and more than $10,000 in cash, in addition to “copious” amounts of prescription medication, McFaddin said.
As far as Ledford’s involvement in the alleged scheme, and employment with Hall County, an internal investigation is ongoing, Bailes said.