Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy Convicted of Taking Money From Drug Dealer

Former Shelby County Sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Drewery was convicted Thursday of illegally taking money from a drug dealer and trying to have a witness killed.

The jury found Drewery not guilty of taking money from a second drug dealer.

Drewery, a professional poker player from Arlington, was convicted of taking cash from Errick Bearden, who testified he was a longtime drug dealer selling marijuana, Xanax and promethazine syrup when he was arrested by Drewery in August 2016.

According to Bearden, who testified in federal court in Memphis, the deputy asked him if he wanted to work as an informant by setting people up and turning them in. Bearden said no, and Drewery became angry and asked him how much it was worth to him, according to Bearden’s testimony. The two men negotiated a price and came to an agreement of a cash bribe to allow Bearden to go free, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Erskine.

After informing the FBI, Bearden’s interactions with Drewery were recorded over three weeks, including a text messaged threat from Drewery that a warrant would be out for Bearden’s arrest, as well as a bribe of $2,000 handed over to Drewery in a parking lot at Bellevue Baptist Church, Erskine said. Drewery showed up at Bearden’s house twice in a black four-door GMC which fits the description of the GMC Sierra assigned to the deputy for his official duties, FBI Special Agent Anthony Householder wrote in court documents.

Drewery was indicted and arrested, and then released on bond. After he got discovery documents about his case, he was charged with soliciting an informant to find out how much it would cost to have Bearden killed. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Drewery paid a confidential informant $2,000 to solicit someone to kill Bearden.

“Law enforcement corruption undermines the public trust and can threaten the overall safety of our community,” said Michael T. Gavin, special agent in charge of the Memphis field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “The FBI holds, as one of its highest priorities, the investigation of corrupt members of law enforcement. This conviction is the result of the hard work and diligence of the honest law enforcement officers and agents of the Tarnished Badge Task Force, who like the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers, put their lives on the line day in and day out to protect, serve, and maintain public trust.”

Drewery was convicted of a federal charge of solicitation to tamper with a witness, one count of Hobbs Act extortion and one count of receipt of a bribe by a government agent.

“Drewery was assigned to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Division at the time of these events, but has since been terminated from the department,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Judge Hardy Mays is to sentence Drewery on March 30 and Drewery will remain on bond. The prosecutor’s office said he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reagan M. Taylor and Erskine prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Tarnished Badge Task Force. The task force includes investigators from the FBI, Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Drewery’s attorney Steve Farese declined to comment following the verdict.