A former Atlanta mail carrier was sentenced to prison for recruiting coworkers to take part in a scheme to deliver packages full of drugs, authorities announced Thursday.
Robert Elliott Sheppard, 61, was sentenced to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty in August to conspiracy to possess cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute and using the mail to commit the crime. The East Point man must also pay a $30,000 fine.
Based on information presented in court, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Ryan Buchanan said Sheppard worked for the U.S. Postal Service in 2015 and would deliver five-pound packages of drugs through the mail system to Dexter Frazier, 60, in exchange for bribes. Frazier was an alleged local trafficker from Fairburn.
“(Sheppard’s) greed resulted in dangerous drugs going into our community and ensnared two of his coworkers in a scheme of drug trafficking and bribery,” Buchanan said.
While Sheppard was on disability leave and unable to deliver packages in 2016, Buchanan said Frazier approached him for more drugs. Sheppard instead offered to recruit other mail carriers to deliver drugs if Frazier paid him referral fees, such as cash and marijuana, according to officials.
Tonie Harris, 59, of Decatur, and Clifton Lee, 46, of Lithonia, were recruited and authorities said Sheppard taught them how to arrange the deliveries and not get caught. They were assigned to the Sandy Springs post office and coordinated deliveries with Frazier.
Harris and Lee each delivered three packages for Frazier believing they contained two kilograms of cocaine or 10 pounds of marijuana, Buchanan said.
In 2018, Frazier, Lee and Harris pleaded guilty to their respective charges, according to Buchanan. Each was sentenced to varying amounts of prison time and ordered to pay restitution.
“Sheppard put not only his future at risk, but the safety of residents on his routes in danger by agreeing to work with drug dealers,” said Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta Keri Farley. “The vast majority of Postal workers are honest. The FBI wants to make it clear if anyone decides to violate the public trust, we will dedicate significant resources toward finding and prosecuting them for their crimes.”
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