State trooper Blake Swicord’s law enforcement career began unraveling earlier this year, the day FBI agents raided a Milledgeville bar and restaurant.
The agents found .45-caliber Glocks that Swicord had bought at a gun sale.
The guns, as it turned out, were now in the hands of a someone with a criminal background.
Now after a nine-month investigation into allegations of misconduct that began after the FBI raid, Swicord is expected to lose his job.
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Swicord, a sergeant first class in charge of the Georgia State Patrol’s Milledgeville post, was placed on paid administrative leave two days after the Feb. 28 raid.
The guns would be the tip of the iceberg of Swicord’s alleged actions, according to details in a 500-page Georgia Department of Public Safety internal investigation file recently obtained by The Telegraph through the Open Records Act.
In a concluding summary of the internal investigation, the Department of Public Safety alleges Swicord:
▪ associated with a person with a criminal background, which is against the department’s policy;
▪ violated off-duty work policy by working security for the Luke Bryan Farm Tour after his request to do so was denied by the Department of Public Safety;
▪ used his state-issued phone to contact multiple women with whom he exchanged sexually explicit texts and nude photographs; and
▪ used his position to influence a Tybee Island police officer to erase a traffic citation issued to his girlfriend.
Department leadership recommended Swicord be fired, effective at the close of business Thursday. He has appealed.
Attempts to reach Swicord for comment on the allegations were not successful.
When Capt. Allen Marlowe met Swicord March 2 to collect his phone, computer, keys, weapons and badge and notify him of the internal investigation, Swicord immediately apologized for embarrassing the department.
Marlowe later recalled to investigators that Swicord said, “I promise you captain, I haven’t done anything wrong. I know this looks bad,” according to documents from the investigation.
Swicord, who joined the state patrol in 2001, told Marlowe he had bought some guns in a Department of Public Safety gun sale in 2014.
He said he sold the guns to Trey Britt, who ran the Milledgeville bar and restaurant that were raided. Britt was convicted in 1999 on felony charges including burglary and kidnapping and was pardoned in 2011. Though Britt’s gun rights were reinstated when he was pardoned, Swicord expressed concern about violating department policy against associating with people with a criminal background.
According to Marlowe, Swicord said Britt “is no angel, but we’ve been friends since college. ... He’s a big supporter of law enforcement,” the report states.
The two drifted apart but reunited years later. Swicord invested nearly $15,000 in Chops, the restaurant that was raided, in 2003, according to the report. “Several other prominent business members of Milledgeville” also invested in the restaurant, Swicord said, noting the only thing he gets in return is half-priced meals.
When describing his relationship with Britt to investigators, Swicord first called him a “shyster,” then a “legitimate businessman” and later “a friend.”
In his 20-minute conversation with Marlowe, Swicord also expressed concerns about possible policy violations regarding off-duty employment, the report states.
Financial records obtained by the FBI showed Swicord was paid $3,000 in 2016 and $2,500 in 2015, plus reimbursements for rental cars and hotel rooms, for working security for the Luke Bryan Farm Tour after the Department of Public Safety had denied his request to do the job, the internal investigation shows.
Swicord denied to investigators he was paid for the work, saying the touring company fabricated the records for tax write-off purposes.
The investigation also found that Swicord violated the department’s technology policy when he used his state-issued cellphone to exchange sexually explicit texts and nude photographs with women.
Swicord told investigators he used his work phone because he was in the middle of a divorce and did not want his wife to see the messages.
Swicord also used his state-issued phone when he contacted a Tybee Island police officer about a traffic citation his girlfriend received, the investigative report alleges.
Phone records indicate he sent a text to the officer to ask if he’d had a chance to check the status of the citation. The officer responded, “Yes. It will disappear by Monday. I called the chief clerk that day. I go in on (Saturday) to sign it but she may have already done it.”
Swicord allegedly texted back: “Thanks bro. I owe u. Keep my number if you need something my way.”
Capt. Horace Wilburn III, director of the department’s Office of Professional Standards, called the findings of the investigation “disturbing.”
“Swicord’s conduct has eroded the trust DPS command staff, his peers, his subordinates and citizens of the state of Georgia had in him as a Georgia State Trooper and a supervisor,” Wilburn wrote in the report.
Swicord made $82,289 annually and had been working for the Georgia State Patrol since September 2001. He transferred to the Milledgeville post in August 2016.
Swicord was nationally recognized for training while he worked in the Crime Interdiction Unit and SWAT team. He was the 2007 recipient of the Governor’s Public Safety Award Act of Heroism. He also received a Commissioner’s Commendation Award in 2006.