Local News

Wake Deputy Charged with Assisting Drug Dealers

Posted June 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Police officers are given equal amounts of responsibility and trust. Now one Wake County Sheriff's deputy is accused of shattering the covenant. If what the U.S. Attorney says is true, he's been selling protection and inside information to drug dealers.

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

Early in his career with the Wake County Sheriff's Department, James Ellerbe'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 a price. 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 trafficking investigation. After two years of watching Ellerbe, who most recently served as a Court Security Officer at the Courthouse, agents had their case.

In the indictment, the US Attorney details how Ellerbe was paid by crack cocaine dealers to tell them when narcotics officers were getting close -- right down to telling the drug dealers what cars narcotics officers 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 the days when he protected Ellerbe and Ellerbe protected him in drug deals and drug arrests. He says it was very emotional to have to make the arrest.

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