U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Georgia
(404) 581-6000
March 19, 2015

Former Jailer Arraigned on Bribery and Drug Charges After Attempting to Smuggle Cocaine into Hall County Jail

GAINESVILLE, GA—Austin Herring has been arraigned on federal charges of accepting bribes and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine in relation to his efforts to smuggle cocaine into the Hall County Jail. Herring was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 3, 2015.

“This former corrections officer allegedly accepted bribes on two occasions to smuggle what he believed to be cocaine into the Hall County Jail,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn. “We are committed to doing what we can to eradicate drugs and other contraband from jails. Jails are the single place above all others where citizens should have confidence that the inmates are no longer breaking the law.”

J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “The FBI takes all allegations of public corruption within law enforcement very seriously and acted on its investigation involving former Hall County Detention Officer Herring promptly. While these cases are disheartening to those working them, it should be noted that the vast majority of those in law enforcement are dedicated to their sworn oaths of office. The FBI would like to thank Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch and his staff for their understanding and cooperation during this investigation.”

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: Herring was employed as a jailer with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. On two occasions in February 2015, Herring was paid $500 to take a package he was told contained cocaine to an inmate inside the jail. After Herring delivered each package to the inmate who was cooperating with the investigation, the inmate then turned the package over to investigators. Herring did not open or tamper with either package, but on each occasion he was specifically told by the person who gave it to him that the package contained cocaine from Mexico. In actuality, neither package contained a controlled substance.

Herring, 19, of Murrayville, Georgia, was arraigned March 16, 2015, before United States Magistrate Judge J. Clay Fuller. He was arrested on these charges on February 20, 2015.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the North Georgia Major Offenders Task Force and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant United States Attorney William L. McKinnon, Jr. is prosecuting the case.

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