A former Knoxville Police Department officer once honored for his patrol work admitted Friday he took part in a drug-selling conspiracy that started in the city and spread through East Tennessee.
Joshua Hurst, 39, faces a 12-year term on his guilty plea in Knox County Criminal Court to eight felonies including conspiracy to deliver the opioid oxycodone, possession with intent to sell oxymorphone in a drug-free park zone and official misconduct.
Hurst appeared in court with several co-defendants before Judge Scott Green.
By agreement, Hurst will have to serve all of the first three years of his sentence and he must pay a $8,000 fine.
Hurst was among eight people indicted last year in the drug ring, according to the TBI.
The agency tapped Hurst's phone to verify his role in the conspiracy.
The TBI began investigating the alleged ring in February 2016 after KPD Chief David Rausch asked for the help of Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen and the agency.
Related: Wiretaps unveil drug conspiracy
Rausch thought one of his officers might be involved in criminal activity, according to the TBI
That officer was identified as Hurst, twice recognized in his 13 years on the force for good work.
Others indicted last year on drug charges: Milbern Breeden Jr. of Knoxville; Erin Keenan of Knoxville; Pamela Moretta of Knoxville; Trevor Loy of Wartburg; Hurst's brother Jacob Hurst of Clarksville; and Paul Gilbertson of Knoxville.
The TBI said Mark Thomas Gilbertson, Paul Gilbertson's brother, also was indicted in the case.
Wiretaps showed Hurst and his brother talking about dealing drugs along with the Gilbertsons.
"In addition to determining the scope of the conspiracy, one of the goals of the wiretap was to determine if any other law enforcement officers were involved in or had knowledge of this drug trafficking organization," Knox County Assistant District Attorney General Sean McDermott said. "The wiretap confirmed that no other law enforcement officers were engaged in this drug conspiracy
Hurst resigned from KPD in April 2016.
In June 2014, the East District D Squad, of which Hurst was a member, was honored collectively as Officer of the Month.
Then in July 2007, Hurst was honored for spotting a driver swerving thorugh a downtown intersection late at night. He arrested the driver, who didn't have a license and also was found with several bags of cocaine as well as loaded guns.