The former Glynn County Police officer whose misdeeds with confidential informants led to the implosion of the countywide narcotics squad pleaded guilty Friday in Glynn County Superior Court, said Jackie Johnson, District Attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.
In pleading guilty to two counts of violation of oath of a public officer, James Cassada agreed to cooperate and testify in future proceedings of the DA’s ongoing investigation into the Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team, Johnson said.
In exchange for his plea, Cassada received 10 years probation, five years for each charge. He will begin the sentence by serving from 120 to 180 days in a state Probation Detention Center, Johnson said. With Judge Anthony L. Harrison’s consent, Cassada was sentenced under the Georgia First Offender Act. Johnson said earlier this year that nearly a dozen suspected drug dealers were released on bond as a result of Cassada’s behavior, which involved sexual relationships with two confidential informants.
Ultimately, the shakeup could effect some 75 pending drug-related cases, Johnson has said. A case was dismissed Friday in Harrell’s courtroom against a defendant who was already in prison on drug-related charges, Johnson said. Five more drug dealers who are presently incarcerated are considering what actions to take after learning Friday that their cases may be affected by the actions within GBNET, she said.
An investigation into Cassada’s misdeeds began in February when two fellow members of GBNET went to an attorney with the DA to share concerns about Cassada’s sexual relationships with two confidential informants. After learning of the allegations against Cassada, Glynn County Police Chief John Powell asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation into Cassada. The police department conducted its own internal affairs investigation, which ultimately led to disciplinary action against two additional officers with GBNET, as well as the disbanding of the narcotics squad.
Cassada resigned in February, shortly after county police internal affairs officers sought to question him.
Capt. David Hassler, former commander of GBNET, resigned in April. Hassler was facing “major disciplinary action” from Chief Powell for allegedly providing conflicting statements to internal affairs investigators. Hassler testified that he never heard of Cassada’s sexual relations with confidential informants, although at least two members of GBNET testified that they discussed the issue with him.
County Police Officer John Simpson was reassigned from investigation to patrol after it was learned during the investigation that he associated with a childhood friend who had been convicted of manufacturing drugs.
In late March, Powell announced that he was disbanding GBNET, which consisted of Glynn County and Brunswick police officers working to combat local drug dealers. Powell said at the time that GBNET would be replaced by a new joint investigative unit, the Brunswick-Glynn Special Investigative Unit. The unit still has not been formalized.
Cassada’s actions came to public light during a Superior Court hearing of an alleged drug dealer who had been arrested by GBNET. During the trial it was revealed that Cassada had sexual relationships with two informants going back to 2017 and may have partaken in illegal drug use while staying in a local motel with one of the women.
Cassada took a leave of absence in late 2017 and early 2018 to check into a facility for alcohol addiction treatment.