Pine Belt

Former Hattiesburg officer sentenced to federal prison

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV) -- A former Hattiesburg officer is sentenced to 61 months in federal prison.

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said a judge sentenced 33-year-old Thomas Wheeler on Monday. He was also issued at $1,500 fine for attempted possession of 50 kilograms or more of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Authorities said on August 8, 2015, a Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper stopped a commercial truck exiting Interstate 20 in Warren County.  A police dog was walked around the vehicle and alerted on the truck.  Officials said the Trooper obtained consent from Elijah Moore, the driver of the truck, to search the vehicle.

Officers stated they found duffle bags containing bricks of marijuana. They claim that Moore admitted that he got the marijuana from El Paso, Texas, and was taking it to Mississippi to distribute it within the state. They said he also told them he had exited the ramp to meet his grandson, Thomas Wheeler. Moore allegedly stated that Wheeler agreed to unload the duffel bags of marijuana and transport them to Seminary, Mississippi, to be picked up by Moore at a later date. Wheeler was an off-duty Hattiesburg police officer at the time, authorities said. 

Authorities said Moore subsequently pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana,
and was sentenced on March 2, 2017, to 97 months in federal prison and a $1,500 fine.

At the time of the stop of Moore, agents saw a maroon Chevrolet SUV with a Covington County license plate parked on the off-ramp on which Moore’s truck was stopped. Moments after the stop, the maroon Chevrolet left the area on Interstate 20 heading towards Jackson. A traffic stop was later conducted on the maroon Chevrolet, and the person inside was Thomas Wheeler, authorities said. They said Wheeler admitted that he had come to the location to get the marijuana from Moore and that Moore would pick the marijuana up from Wheeler later.

They said Wheeler also admitted to having picked up another load of marijuana from Moore and paid $3,000.


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