Ex-Georgia cop guilty of telling drug dealer about FBI wiretap

A former Cartersville police officer is facing federal prison after admitting he told a drug trafficker about an FBI investigation, authorities said.

Bryson-Taylor Wayne Banks, 31, was investigating drug traffickers in the Cartersville area and was using a female confidential source to obtain information about the network, U.S. Attorney “BJay” Pak said in a news release.

Banks improperly gave the source information from law enforcement databases and illegally sent her a picture of another source, Pak said.

“The defendant made a decision to side with the drug dealers and sabotage an FBI investigation,” Pak said. “He placed his fellow law enforcement officers in imminent danger, and sold out his oath to uphold the law.”

“Mr. Banks’ actions do not reflect the values or culture of the Cartersville Police Department,” Lt. Michael Bettikofer said.

In 2015, on the the morning of a planned arrest, an FBI agent informed Banks of a wiretap investigation and the plan to arrest Tomas Pineda Mendoza, who Banks had been investigating.

Banks, knowing that the man he had been investigating was about to be arrested by another agency, contacted his source and told her to tell Mendoza not to pick up drugs that day because of the planned arrest, the agency said.

Banks also told his source the FBI knew about Mendoza because they were wiretapping phones used by Georgia inmate and trafficking suspect Francisco Palacios Baras, also known as “Shorty.”

Mendoza did not pick up methamphetamine as planned, but was intercepted over the wiretap calling “Shorty” and telling him that “one of the girls” had warned Mendoza not to pick up the drugs, according to the FBI.

He said that he had identified the agents watching his apartment, as “the girl” had warned, and that investigators were listening to “Shorty’s” phones. “Shorty” then stopped using the phones being wiretapped by the FBI.

The FBI then had to take precautions for agents’ personal safety and try to rebuild the investigation.

Banks pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful notification of electronic surveillance, the FBI said. Sentencing is scheduled for May 11.

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