Former Hattiesburg police officer sentenced on drug conviction

Former Hattiesburg police officer sentenced on drug conviction
A former Hattiesburg business owner will serve two years in prison and pay back more than $165,000 in backed taxes after a sentence handed down by a federal judge. (Photo source: Raycom News Network)

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A U.S. District Judge sentenced a former Hattiesburg police officer to five years in federal prison on a drug conviction Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze announced that Tomas Wheeler, 33, was sentenced to 61 months in federal prison and a $1,500 fine for attempted possession of 50 kilograms or more of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Mississippi Highway Patrol stopped a commercial truck in Warren County on Aug. 8, 2015, and obtained consent from the driver, Elijah Moore, to search the vehicle, according to the Department of Justice press release. Officers discovered eight duffle bags containing bricks of marijuana, and Moore admitted that he obtained the weed from El Paso and was transporting it to Mississippi for distribution.

According to the release, Moore also said that he was meeting his grandson, Wheeler, who had agreed to unload it and transport it to Seminary for Moore to pick up at a later date. Wheeler was an off-duty Hattiesburg police officer at the time.

Officers spotted a maroon Chevrolet leaving the area Interstate 20 moments after the stop and later pulled the vehicle over. The driver was identified as Wheeler, who admitted coming to the location to pick up marijuana from Moore and that he had previously been paid $3,000 to pick up another load of weed.

Moore later pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and sentenced to 97 months in federal prison and a $1,500 fine in March 2017.

The case was investigated by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, with assistance from MHP and the Pearl Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carla Clark. Morre was sentenced bu U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate.