A former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of possession of heroine after a search of his Glynn County home yielded items with drug residue.
James C. Turner, 48, entered his plea before Benjamin Cheesbro, a judge in U.S. Magistrate Court in Brunswick.
In exchange for his guilty plea and cooperation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael T. Solis recommended to the court that Turner, who has resigned from the ATF, be sentenced to probation.
Solis told Cheesbro that FBI special agents watched as a confidential informant bought $40 worth of fentanyl from a woman identified only as M.S. The agents followed the woman to a house and saw her enter and then leave the residence, Solis said.
During a subsequent search of the house, a Glynn County drug dog was walked through and alerted beneath a sink where searchers recovered a metal spoon, razor blade and a heroine test kit, he said. The searchers also found other burnt spoons and drug paraphernalia and subsequent tests of the objects found residue of heroine and fentanyl, Solis said.
Turner knew that his girlfriend M.S., who was living with him, was a drug addict, Solis said.
In an exchange of messages, Turner complained to M.S., “You brought dope into our home again,’’ Solis said.
M.S. said she forgot and apologized, he said.
Turner later remarked that it was no wonder there were no spoons in the house.
Turner never used nor distributed drugs, Solis said, and was not a flight risk and posed no danger to the community.
Cheesbro adopted the U.S. Attorney’s recommendation that Turner be released on his own recognizance.
About two years ago, Turner was part of a 10-member team of federal agents and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Georgia that received an award for overcoming technological obstacles to successfully prosecute cases.
One of those cases was “Operation Cellmate,’’ in which inmate Daniel Roger Alo was convicted of running a multi-state drug distribution from prison using cellphones. The cellphones were flown into the prison by drone with the cooperation of corrections officers. Alo, who already was serving a life sentence for murder, was sentenced to more time along with 15 co-conspirators.
The team also made the case against Ronnie Music Jr., a Waycross man who used some of his $3 million in Georgia lottery winnings to bankroll meth distribution.