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Six Florida Jail Staff Arrested in Contraband Smuggling Probe

by David M. Reutter

An on-going investigation into contraband smuggling at Florida’s Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale has resulted in the arrest of five guards and a contract nurse.

Following months of witness interviews and a review of phone records, detectives arrested jail guards Salisia Pascoe, 30, Kiara Walker, 22, and Roderick Lopez, 30, on December 15, 2010.

The investigation of Pascoe began last November following a fight between two prisoners over the use of a cell phone. Pascoe had provided the phone to a detainee whom she later admitted to having consensual sex with in a jail storage room. When that prisoner refused to lend the cell phone to another detainee, a fight ensued. The spurned detainee then informed jail officials about the phone.

Phone records not only revealed the illicit relationship, but also that Pascoe had arranged to smuggle marijuana into the jail. She was charged with two counts of using a cell phone to facilitate a felony, one count of sexual misconduct with a prisoner and one count of introducing contraband into a detention facility.

When a cell phone fell from the underwear of prisoner John Toussaint during a pat-down search by a jail sergeant on June 24, 2009, an investigation into Lopez began. Although Toussaint tried to flush the phone down a toilet, the sergeant was able to retrieve it.

The investigation gained momentum after Toussaint disclosed to investigators on December 7, 2010 that Lopez had accepted $800 from Toussaint’s two girlfriends to bring him the phone, food, batteries and a picture of one of his girlfriends.

Walker’s arrest also resulted from an informant’s tip. Following that tip, investigators searched the cell of jail prisoner Dietrick Johnson. They found a cell phone, a makeshift lighter fashioned from batteries and a wire, and a piece of paper inside a Bible that contained Walker’s phone number.

Cell phone records revealed that over a three-week period, Walker and Johnson spoke and sent text messages “several hundred times.” The pair wrote that they loved each other and discussed having sex in Johnson’s cell.

Johnson had been convicted of robbing three all-night pharmacies within 90 minutes in October 2007. It was his suspected involvement in the murder of Broward County deputy Chris Reyka during an earlier pharmacy robbery that most upset jail officials about Walker’s involvement with Johnson.

Jail contract nurse Carline Jean, 34, employed by Armor Health Care, also faces criminal charges for providing a contraband cell phone to a prisoner and then sending him nude photos. She was arrested on January 4, 2011.

“The man approached me. I responded back,” Jean stated, according to an arrest report. “It led to something else. It shouldn’t have happened. ... Do I somewhat know that maybe I shouldn’t be in contact with him? Yes, I know that, but I did it anyway.”

On February 1, 2011, another Broward County Jail guard, Keith McPhee, 37, also known as “Mr. Brown,” was arrested on charges of smuggling contraband. He reportedly met with prisoners’ friends and family members in the jail parking lot to accept bribes to sneak cell phone batteries, photos, Gatorade and other items into the facility. McPhee had already resigned but that didn’t prevent him from being prosecuted.

“Another employee has betrayed his badge and sold himself out,” said Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti.

And on May 14, 2011, Broward County Jail guard Wonza Moore, 48, a 14-year veteran with the Sheriff’s Office, was charged with four counts of introducing contraband into a jail facility, one count of official misconduct and one count of using a cell phone to facilitate a felony. Moore was accused of having a personal relationship with a prisoner. She was jailed with a $300,000 bond.

The reasons for the contraband smuggling by jail staff appear to vary by gender. “The males appear to be doing it for cash and the females seem to be doing it for the romance,” said Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective Joe Kessling.

Four prisoners are being prosecuted as a result of the contraband smuggling investigation, including Dietrick Johnson, who received a 50-year sentence in January 2011 for the pharmacy robberies.

The Broward County Jail plans to implement security changes to prevent staff from smuggling contraband, including searching all employees as well as employee areas in the jail, installing outside surveillance cameras, prohibiting personal cell phones in most cases, and restricting guards’ movement inside the facility.

Sources: Orlando Sentinel, CBS Miami, Sun Sentinel

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