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Florida Guards Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

Florida Guards Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

Three former Florida prison guards, including a security chief, were sentenced to probation and ordered to perform community service after entering guilty or no contest pleas to charges that they accepted bribes to perform favors for prisoners, including supplying contraband, providing special treatment and “protection.” The charges stemmed from events that occurred at the Calhoun Correctional Institution (CCI) in Blountstown, Florida, where the guards worked.

Colonel John “Sammy” McAlpin, 43, pleaded guilty in Calhoun County Court to multiple charges of misdemeanor petit theft and was sentenced in October 2013 to one year of probation and 150 hours of community service. He also forfeited his corrections certification.

Former prison guard Stephen Whit Pickron, 34, pleaded no contest and was sentenced on May 15, 2013 to 104 days in jail, 10 years’ probation and 250 hours of community service. The court dismissed Pickron’s jail sentence on November 18, 2013 in response to a motion to modify his sentence.

Former guard Nicholas Anson Hans­ford, 24, also pleaded no contest and was sentenced on May 15, 2013 to 104 days in jail, 10 years of probation and community service. Like Pickron, Hansford filed a motion to modify and the court subsequently removed his jail term.

Pickron, Hansford and McAlpin – the former Chief of Security at CCI – were all arrested in September 2012 and charged with unlawful compensation for official behavior. McAlpin was further charged with official misconduct.

According to an affidavit filed by the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC), the trio’s bribery scheme was discovered in November 2010 after the husband of a guard found 40 letters written to his wife by a prisoner at CCI. The letters detailed a relationship between the prisoner and the woman, and in one letter the prisoner “indicated he was paying for protection and that ‘Big Daddy’ looked out for him,” the affidavit stated. Investigators said “Big Daddy” was a nickname given to McAlpin.

The prisoner wrote that he had paid $500 for protection and the use of a cell phone. The letters also implicated other FDOC guards who were involved in illicit activities.

The guard’s husband turned over copies of the letters to a sergeant at CCI, who gave them to Col. McAlpin, who then convened an investigation. The female guard involved in a relationship with the prisoner who wrote the letters was fired, and the prisoner was placed in segregation while the investigation remained pending. McAlpin reported that he put the letters in the warden’s office for safekeeping before giving them to Law Enforcement Inspector Mike Harrison with the FDOC’s Office of Inspector General.

When Harrison interviewed the former guard’s husband in January 2011, however, it was learned that some of the letters were missing. The FDOC affidavit stated the woman’s husband then provided a complete set of copies of the letters to investigators, and Harrison discovered the missing letters referenced money paid to McAlpin and other guards.

The prisoner who wrote the letters said in a sworn statement on December 21, 2011 that he had given McAlpin $2,400. The prisoner told authorities that McAlpin offered protection to prisoners at CCI and notified them of unannounced contraband searches, and estimated that McAlpin had received more than $20,000 in Western Union money orders over the preceding year from prisoners’ friends and relatives.

Separately, a former prisoner told authorities that between May 24 and June 4, 2010, he met with Pickron and gave the guard $400 in cash and eight Western Union money orders totaling $2,750 that were sent to him from families of CCI prisoners. Pickron later admitted he had accepted the cash and said he turned it over to McAlpin.

Pickron also picked up a $400 money order on November 12, 2010 that came from a prisoner’s girlfriend. The next day, the prisoner told his girlfriend in a recorded phone conversation that the payment was for a job change at CCI.

Six days later, Pickron received a $1,500 money order from a prisoner’s sister. A phone call recorded the prisoner telling his sister the money was to make things “better for him.” The same woman sent Pickron $300 on December 9, 2010; the prisoner later admitted the money was in exchange for alcoholic beverages and information from the Internet. The prisoner’s sister sent another $700 within the next six weeks. “There’s been some big changing around here,” the prisoner told her in a phone call. “I can’t explain it, but everything is so perfect now.”

When investigators questioned Pickron on September 19, 2012, he said he kept only a small portion of the money each time and gave the rest to McAlpin. He stated McAlpin had originally approached him, saying, “You know, there is money to be made.... You can make money off these inmates like this.” For his participation in the bribery scheme, Pickron received a post change that gave him weekends and holidays off.

The investigation also revealed that Hansford was involved in the scheme. He deposited $300 worth of money orders into his personal bank account in October 2010. Using the alias “Stan Smith,” he also received money orders totaling $1,455 from prisoners in exchange for smuggling contraband into CCI between March 7 and June 7, 2012.

Notably, none of the three guards involved in the bribery scheme was required to serve jail time despite their egregious misconduct.



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