Talbot County officers pleaded not guilty to extortion charges - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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Talbot County officers pleaded not guilty to extortion charges

Major Jeff Sivell was among the three arrested in Talbot Co. for extortion. Major Jeff Sivell was among the three arrested in Talbot Co. for extortion.
FBI set up press conference at the Columbus downtown office. FBI set up press conference at the Columbus downtown office.
Talbot County, GA City Hall Talbot County, GA City Hall

TALBOT COUNTY, GA (WTVM) - Three law enforcement officers appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon.   Jeff Sivell, Charlie Stephens, and Alvin Malone all plead not guilty to charges of extortion. They were released on $10,000 signature bonds.

United States attorney, Michael Moore, announced Wednesday afternoon, Stephens, 76, Sivell, and Malone, 32, were arrested in Talbot County, GA.  All were charged with extortion by a public official after agents say the men extorted money from undercover officers.

The arrest warrants were executed Wednesday morning when FBI agents raided Talbotton City Hall and placed the building on lockdown.

[Web Extra! Official Press Release - Federal agents arrest 3 officers]

[Talbot Co. Interim Sheriff speaks out about 4 law officials arrests]

The investigation was conducted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

John S. Comer, Acting Special Agent in Charge told the media Wednesday, "The vast majority of law enforcement officers serve the public with honor and distinction.  This type of activity tarnishes the badge of the committed men and women of law enforcement."

In addition, a Talbot County jailer was arrested. Mike Gamble faces a state charge of bribery.

The three men facing federal charges could serve a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fine.  The men must surrender passports, weapons, badges, anything stating they are public official.

Sivell and Stephens were certified law enforcement officers who worked in the Talbot County Sheriff's Office. 

Sue McKinney with the U.S. Attorney's office says Alvin Malone previously worked for the Talbot County Sheriff's Office, but was not working for them at the time of the arrest.  Malone, we are told, worked for the Talbotton Police Department.

The FBI was prompted to investigate the departments after a 2009 drug trafficking investigation showed that the trio was allegedly abusing power.

Copyright 2011 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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