Former Atlanta cop admits to corruption, drug charges

A former Atlanta cop sold his freedom for less than the cost of a cheap used car.

Lucius T. Solomon, III, 31, admitted in federal court Thursday that he traded on his badge for money.

He was an officer in March when he was arrested after he got caught up in an FBI sting. He agreed to protect people he thought were drug dealers in exchange for $2,000, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, and he provided that protection twice, while on duty, in uniform and in his marked patrol car.

After his arrest, Solomon, a 9-year veteran with the Atlanta Police Department, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to distribute 5 kilograms of cocaine and possessing a firearm while participating in multiple sales of cocaine, according to court documents.

On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to corruption and drug charges.

The former Zone 6 officer was arrested March 24 after several interactions with undercover FBI agents.

Solomon discussed the rising price of cocaine with an agent posing as a buyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Hathaway has said. The agent asked Solomon to get 5 kilograms of cocaine for less money, Hathaway said at Solomon's bond hearing in March, and Solomon called someone twice "to see if he could beat the price of $130,000."

“We know he’s dealing with actual drug traffickers, and he’s protecting drug traffickers,” Hathaway said at that March hearing.

Solomon's lawyer said he will try to prove that Solomon didn't have ties to actual drug dealers. Solomon did accept money to protect people he thought were dealers from other cops, his attorney, Wilmer "Buddy" Parker, told the AJC Thursday.

"The question is not whether he should go to jail. He should," Parker said. "The question is: how long?"

The ex-cop could get 20 years to life in prison and a fine of over $4 million when he is sentenced Nov. 9 before U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story.

Parker said his client faces far less time in prison -- perhaps five years -- on the corruption charge than on the drug charges. Federal guidelines tie sentencing length to the amount of drugs involved. In this case, Parker noted, the drugs were imaginary since Solomon only talked about cocaine. He said he will attack the drug charges during the sentencing phase of the case.

He said a wiretap that ran on his client's phone for a month will help him make his case.

"I have to prove a negative: that my guy's really not a player in the drug business," Parker said.

Yates said Thursday that Solomon was the worst kind of cop. He "took money to protect the very drug dealers he had sworn to pursue and arrest," she said. "There is no greater breach of a police officer’s oath than to actively participate in criminal conduct that so powerfully harms the community.”