Man pleads guilty to drug smuggling

ATLANTA - A 44-year-old Lawrenceville man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to his involvement in a fake heroin and cocaine sting with two other employees at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Former Transportation Security Administration employee Jon Patton - along with former Delta Air Lines employee Leslie Adgar, 42, of Decatur - pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute narcotics between Atlanta and New York's LaGuardia Airport on three occasions, according to U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias.

A third individual - former TSA employee Andre Mays, 24, of Atlanta - pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Prosecutors say Patton worked with an undercover agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration in December 2007 to broker an initial deal transporting two kilograms of cocaine through Hartsfield-Jackson to New York for which he was paid $8,000.

Days later, Patton allegedly helped transport two kilograms of fake cocaine in a carry-on bag.

In late January, Patton was involved in another deal that sent one kilogram of fake heroin and $4,500 in cash to New York in the same carry-on bag, authorities said. He was in uniform and on duty when he accepted the luggage and helped smuggle it through security.

A third and final transaction occurred Feb. 15, this time involving three kilograms of fake cocaine. Patton passed the fake drugs through security and was arrested shortly afterward.

Rodney G. Benson, special-agent-in-charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division, said the trio's misconduct "undermines the efforts of law enforcement officers who work so hard to keep our airports safe from the dangerous substances that these individuals were attempting to smuggle."

Patton and Adgar face 10 years to life in prison, Nahmias said. Mays, who pleaded guilty to entering a secure airport area in violation of federal screening requirements - a misdemeanor - faces up to one year in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 17 at 10:30 a.m.