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Wake Deputy Charged with Assisting Drug Dealers

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Drug money
RALEIGH — Police officers are given equal amounts ofresponsibility and trust. Now one Wake County Sheriff's deputy is accusedof shattering the covenant. If what the U.S. Attorney says is true, he'sbeen selling protection and inside information to drug dealers.

James Ellerbe's 13 years working for the Wake County Sheriff'sDepartment ended Thursday night. He's now in federal custody on one countof conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and three counts of extortion.The simple explanation: selling information to drug dealers. His arrestends a sting that's been two years in the making.

Early in his career with the Wake County Sheriff's Department, JamesEllerbe's job was to bust drug dealers and break up drug rings. But,according to a 12 page, four count federal indictment released Friday, James Ellerbe was actually helping drug dealers in Wake County for aprice. Captain Jimmy Brown calls the whole situation very disappointing.

DEA agents and detectives in the Sheriff's Department first suspected Ellerbe of selling information two years ago during a drug traffickinginvestigation. After two years of watching Ellerbe, who most recentlyserved as a Court Security Officer at the Courthouse, agents had theircase.

In the indictment, the US Attorney details how Ellerbe was paid bycrack cocaine dealers to tell them when narcotics officers were gettingclose -- right down to telling the drug dealers what cars narcoticsofficers would be driving.

Wake County Sheriff John Baker says Ellerbe was putting his colleague's lives in danger by supplying undercover information.

Ellerbe was arrested Thursday night while he was eating dinner. Brown, his old friend and former boss, brought him in. Brown recalls thedays when he protected Ellerbe and Ellerbe protected him in drug deals anddrug arrests. He says it was very emotional to have to make the arrest.

Ellerbe made an appearance Friday in Wilmington before a federaljudge. He's scheduled to appear in federal court in Raleigh Tuesday.

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