An FBI investigation into a violent extremist group led to the discovery of a former Georgia sheriff's deputy who bragged about beating a Black man, fantasized about killing liberal politicians and had a "cache" of illegal firearms, prosecutors said.
Cody Richard Griggers, 28, of Montrose, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an unregistered firearm on Monday and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Georgia.
FBI agents investigating a San Diego, California, man who was making "violent political statements on social media'' said they discovered texts from Griggers in a group chat called “Shadow Moses” or “Shadmo," which discussed militia-type prepping, including lengthy discussions of weapons, combat gear and survival techniques. The ex-Wilkinson County Sheriff’s deputy claimed in those texts that he "was manufacturing and acquiring illegal firearms, explosives and suppressors," the statement said.
According to a criminal complaint filed in November of last year, "Griggers also expressed viewpoints consistent with white racially motivated violent extremists, including the use of racial slurs, slurs against homosexuals, and making frequent positive references to the Nazi holocaust.”
He said he worked in the local jail and, on one occasion, in 2019, wrote that he had gotten "wrapped up in my AR and forgot to tell y’all that I beat the s--- out" of an inmate, substituting a racial epithet. "F----- tried to steal a 33rd glock mag from the local gun store," the criminal complaint said.
Griggers allegedly described the beating as “sweet stress relief."
“It’s a sign of beautiful things to come. Also I’m going to charge them with whatever felonies I can to take away their ability to vote," he continued, according to the complaint.
The Wilkinson County Sheriff's Office declined to discuss the allegations against Griggers.
"The Sheriff does not wish to make a statement," the agency said in a statement Friday to NBC News.
Griggers also offered "Shadmo" members prescription medications he said he had obtained and law enforcement-only ammunition, the complaint said.
He allegedly boasted about recruiting people into "Shadmo," and gave members instruction on how to make explosives, suppressors, automatic triggers and automatic weapons.
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Authorities said Griggers went on to discuss his desire to steal items from the sheriff's department. "Also I want to get LE (law enforcement) only stuff like flashbands and entry charges and say I used them in training when I pocketed them," Griggers wrote, according to the criminal complaint.
In reply, the California suspect wrote: “Yeah I’ll pay big money for a bang an boom … I’m ready to terrorize la," according to the complaint.
During a series of messages in which members of the group discussed a potential civil war and killing liberal politicians, Griggers wrote: 'Still, if they’re famous liberals, they can’t die from a gunshot without becoming a martyr really,'" the complaint said.
Griggers allegedly went on to say the plan would be best if people of color were blamed for the attack and if it was done with a machete so that "they can’t go the gun grabber route."
In November of last year, agents searched Griggers' home and sheriff's department-issued vehicle with a warrant and found 11 illegal firearms, including a machine gun with an obliterated serial number in his squad car and a short barrel shotgun in his home.
"The machine gun was not issued to the defendant, and he was not allowed to have the weapon in his law enforcement car," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
“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. Coupled with his violent racially motivated extreme statements, the defendant has lost the privilege permanently of wearing the blue,” said acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary.
Griggers is scheduled to be sentenced on July 6. He was detained at his pretrial hearing and remains in custody, according to the Justice Department.
His attorney could not be reached for comment Friday