Repeat offender clogs Atlanta justice system

His name is Fabian Coursoiver Sheats. He keeps Atlanta police and Fulton County court officials busy.

Police and those on the street talk about “The Game,” the constant maneuvering that goes on between detective and dealers. Sheats is a bit player. But, because of his repeated arrests, he clogs the machinery of justice, tying up investigators, prosecutors and judges and keeping them from more productive pursuits.

In May 2005, a frustrated Judge Alice Bonner was getting ready to sentence the bothersome Sheats, already a repeat offender, on a 2003 aggravated assault charge. In that case, Sheats stole a man’s wallet while an accomplice shot him in the leg.

The negotiated sentence was 10 years to serve one, with credit for time served. “It’s absolutely pathetic,” Bonner said of the deal before approving it. “He’ll be home before I get home for dinner.”

He was out three weeks later. Players in The Game know the overworked court, jail and prison system generally let the small fish swim free, so they negotiate, do their time then are released to return to their old haunts.

On Nov. 21, 2006, Sheats was arrested by Atlanta narcotics officers for the third time in four months on dope selling charges — all around the same parking lot at 1143 Simpson Road.

The cops, looking to land a bigger fish, planted drugs near Sheats and pressured him to give up his source, according to court papers. Sheats, in turn, randomly picked a house and told the officers he had just seen a kilo of cocaine there, setting off a chain of events that ended in Kathryn Johnston’s death hours later, the officers later admitted.

He was released in December, his charges dropped.

On March 2, 2007, he was tackled by police and arrested on Simpson Road with 7 grams of crack and 2 ounces of pot, according to court records.

Two weeks later, police said they found him — again on Simpson — near where 21 hits of crack and 13 baggies of pot were found and charged him with distribution.

“He just continuously goes out to the same location and deals drugs,” an incredulous prosecutor complained at a court hearing a month later as Sheats was sentenced to 10 years to serve 10 months on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

“I’m trying to fly straight because I miss my son,” Sheats told the judge.

Nine months later, on Jan. 29, 2008, he was arrested at his familiar spot and charged once again with possession with intent to distribute marijuana. In a plea hearing just weeks later, prosecutor Tessie Edwards recommended five years, noting six convictions. “Apparently, he is not getting it,” she said.

Judge Alford Dempsey sentenced him to five years probation and a year in a detention center. He was given a few days to get his affairs in order. He never turned himself in.

But police didn’t have to look hard. On April 9, 2008, police arrested him with marijuana at his Simpson Street haunt.

On August, 14, 2008, Sheats told Judge Walter Lovett Jr. that he was a marijuana abuser, and “I need some real discipline.” Lovett, who had sentenced him the year before, scolded him before sentencing him to 10 years, two to serve. The judge said if he returned, he’d end up with a mandatory 10 years in prison, no parole.

“You’ve got to get out of this business,” the judge said.

Last month, police arrested the 27-year-old Sheats a half block from his normal perch after a struggle. Police said he had 12 hits of crack and 32 small baggies of pot.

Not much has changed — except Simpson Street is now called Joseph E. Boone Boulevard.