Now-former Tallahatchie County Sheriff William Brewer had the attention of all the law enforcement officers in the federal courtroom when he walked in on Tuesday.
What wasn’t known by all in the court at that time, but many of them did, was that an informant had come forward who told federal authorities he had robbed drug dealers on Brewer’s behalf at least 50 times in the last decade and a half.
The top law enforcement officer in his home county is accused on drug and extortion charges dating back those 15 years. On Tuesday, he resigned his position officially in a federal courthouse in Oxford.
He walked into the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit — a sharp contrast to the sheriff’s uniform his community had grown so accustomed to seeing him in — though his air seemed to be relaxed.
Brewer, 58, of Oakland, was arrested by FBI agents Friday morning and charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, and extortion and bribery under color of official right in violation of the Hobbs Act.
In court on Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Roy Percy gave Brewer a $25,000 secured bond and granted him house arrest after Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Mims withdrew the government’s request for pre-trial detention.
Brewer’s attorney, Kevin Horan, waived the defendant’s right to a preliminary hearing.
The criminal complaint states that Brewer is accused of the conspiracy to distribute from June 2003 to June 2018, and the extortion and bribery from June 2003 to July 2018.
The affidavit lays out a picture of criminal activities that prior to Brewer’s arrest had only been detailed in community gossip over the last decade and a half. It started with an informant who, when approached by the FBI, told themI that about 15 years ago, he “started participating in illegal activity with Brewer,” according to the affidavit. That activity consisted of robbing drug dealers of their drugs and money and bringing the money back to Brewer, the informant told authorities.
He would also sell the illegal drugs — usually methamphetamine and crack and powder cocaine — and then give Brewer the money for that too, he said. In return for that, the informant was protected from law enforcement in Tallahatchie County.
The informant also said that two or three years ago, Brewer allegedly found out that he was selling methamphetamines he had purchased from illegal drug suppliers rather than stealing from drug dealers as he had before.
Brewer allegedly made the informant pay him $500 to $600 every other week from his proceedings.
According to court documents, for a week in June, the informant planned with Brewer over recorded telephone calls to rob a drug dealer for around nine or 10 kilograms of meth. The informant then paid Brewer $10,000 broken up into three payments.
One of those payments was delivered in a cell phone box. The informant took the box to Brewer, who allegedly inspected it and told the informant to put the money under a bucket in a barn across from Brewer’s residence. There was then a phone call between the two where the informant told the sheriff where he had put the money, and the sheriff confirmed he had received it.
The other money drops were made in days following and each time, the informant says he put the money in that bucket for Brewer to pick up.
Allegedly Brewer did warn the informant in a recorded conversation to “be careful” who he was dealing with. He also told the informant to continue selling meth, the affidavit states.
According to the documents, law enforcement called for the seizure of money, jewelry, safes, proceeds of drug transactions, surveillance devices, information storage devices, lockboxes and any and all controlled substance, among other things.
If convicted, Brewer faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, along with fines ranging from $250,000 to $1 million per count.