An FBI investigation into the activities of a former Georgia sheriff’s deputy revealed he sent text messages to members of an extremist group bragging about beating a Black person he arrested and his plans to charge Black Georgia residents with felonies so they can’t vote, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
Cody Richard Griggers, who is also a former Marine, was fired from the Wilkinson County sheriff’s department in November after the FBI notified his former employers he was being investigated for illegal firearms and his alleged affiliation with a California man who posted extremist political views on Facebook.
Following his eventual arrest, the 28-year-old Griggers reached an agreement with authorities and pleaded guilty to a count of illegally possessing a firearm. The offense carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison.
Griggers, who is White, came under the FBI’s radar after his name appeared in a group chat following the search of a San Diego man’s cellphone by federal agents. Court documents reportedly state the members in the chat group were known as “Shadow Moses” or “Shadmo.”
Authorities said Griggers in the text messages informed group members he was assembling and also collecting illegal firearms and explosives. In a statement to announce the plea deal on Wednesday, prosecutors also said Griggers “expressed viewpoints consistent with racially motivated violent extremism, including the use of racial slurs, slurs against homosexuals and making frequent positive references to the Nazi holocaust,” the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
Following a search of Griggers’ patrol vehicle by federal agents in November, prosecutors said a machine gun “with an obliterated serial number” was discovered. Griggers was prohibited from possessing those kinds of firearms in his patrol car. The statement also revealed investigators found an “unregistered short barrel shotgun” in his home.
“In all, between the defendant’s residence and duty vehicle, officers found 11 illegal firearms,” the statement added.
The FBI affidavit also detailed some of the text messages Griggers sent to members of the group. In one of the chats on the “Shadmo” group, the former deputy bragged about physically assaulting a man he had detained.
“I beat the (expletive) out of a (racial slur) Saturday. (Expletive) tried to steal (a gun magazine) from the local gun store. … Sheriff’s dept. said it looked like he fell,” he allegedly wrote in the August 2019 text. Griggers also said laying his hands on people was “sweet stress relief.”
In another text, Griggers also signaled his intention of charging “black people with felonies in order to keep them from voting,” the affidavit states.
“It’s a sign of beautiful things to come,” he continued in the text. “Also I’m going to charge them with whatever felonies I can to take away their ability to vote.” The affidavit also states that the former deputy had a conversation with other members of the group about “killing liberal politicians” and making it look like Muslims were behind the crimes.
Responding to the assault claims, Wilkinson Sheriff Richard Chatman told The Telegraph it “never happened” and Griggers was probably bragging. “We don’t even have a gun shop here,” Chatman said on Wednesday.
“I think he may have been working in the jail (at the time). … We looked at all the cases he may have been involved in and we never had any complaints on him of any kind,” Chatman added. “We looked back and we pulled (records) of anything that he had taken a warrant for, any call that he had gone on, and we found nothing [that raised any red flags].”
Griggers is set to be sentenced on July 6. “This former law enforcement officer knew that he was breaking the law when he chose to possess a cache of unregistered weapons, silencers and a machine gun, keeping many of them in his duty vehicle,” Peter D. Leary, acting U.S. Attorney, said. “Coupled with his violent racially motivated extreme statements, the defendant has lost the privilege permanently of wearing the blue.”