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Former town cop pleads guilty to steroid distribution

A former Jonesborough police officer and Washington County sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty in federal court last week to distributing anabolic steroids through the U.S. Postal Service.
From approximately 2009 through April 2012, Freddie M. Sergent, 30, distributed the steroids from his Telford home.
According to court documents, Sergent obtained raw steroid powders and other materials through the mail from sources in China. He then processed and packaged the substances into vials of steroid solution.
Authorities estimate Sergent handled 40,000 or more units of the controlled substance over the three-year period, selling approximately $80,000 worth of steroids.
On March 23, 2012, Sergent mailed a package from the Jonesborough Post Office to a customer in Michigan.
That package was intercepted and opened through a federal search warrant, and a glass bottle of steroids was found inside.
Last year, the Herald & Tribune learned Sergent’s home in Telford had been raided by federal authorities on April 4, 2012. When contacted days later by the newspaper, Robert Bailess of the Drug Enforcement Administration said he could not “confirm or deny” anything to do with the raid because it was part of an ongoing investigation.
Court documents now reveal that inside Sergent’s home, authorities recovered steroid powders, materials to process and package steroids, syringes, and computers used to order and sell steroids over the Internet.
Sergent admitted to authorities he had been ordering the powder from China as well as processing it and selling it to customers across the country.
Sergent worked for the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety from November 2006 through Jan. 27, 2012, at which time he resigned from the force.
Prior to that, he worked as a deputy for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
At the time of his resignation from Jonesborough’s police department, Sergent was serving as a sergeant, a position he had held since 2008.
“The past five years have been very rewarding,” Sergent wrote in his resignation letter. “However, I feel it is time that I move on to an agency that can utilize my expertise and provide me with opportunities of advancement.”
According to personnel records, however, Sergent’s resignation did not come without prior disciplinary action. In fact, he was about to be fired.
Supervisors verbally reprimanded Sergent twice in the spring of 2011 for being absent from his post, insubordination and falsifying hours. That fall, he was written up for conduct unbecoming of an officer related to a complaint filed against him and, in November 2011, was suspended for two days for again falsifying time sheets.
More disciplinary action took place two months later, revealing Sergent had, on Jan. 19, 2012, gone to Walmart on West Market Street in Johnson City while on duty.
Video from the store showed Sergent inside for approximately 30 minutes doing personal shopping while he was supposed to be patrolling the streets of Jonesborough.
During the time Sergent was at Walmart, he left a lone officer to answer calls for service without any backup, a violation of numerous department policies.
Sergent later denied going to Walmart despite video proof he was there, according to his personnel file.
That same day, and again on the following day, Sergent failed to show up for roll call.
Police Chief Matt Hawkins suspended Sergent for five days without pay for “blatant disregard for officer safety and his dishonesty in an attempt to cover his actions.”
Then, on Jan. 26, 2012, just one day before Sergent resigned, Hawkins submitted a letter to Town Operations Manager Craig Ford recommending Sergent be terminated due to the most recent series of events.
Following Sergent’s plea in federal court last week, Hawkins said he could not comment on any criminal aspects of a case being prosecuted by federal authorities.
Hawkins did, however, say he and other top leaders at the Jonesborough police department were not aware Sergent had been being investigated by federal agencies. He also confirmed that the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety was not investigating Sergent for any illegal activity at the time of his employment with the town.
Sergent pleaded guilty in federal court in Greeneville on Jan. 30. He will be sentenced on Monday, Aug. 12. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.