Florida Prison Guards Charged With Smuggling Cash, Phones, Cigarettes
Three corrections officers who worked with the Florida Department of Corrections were arrested for smuggling hundreds of dollars in cash for inmates, Polk County deputies announced.
The suspects were identified as 33-year-old Jules Loya, 23-year-old, 25-year-old Victor Medina, and 23-year-old Nathan Lucy. All worked at the Avon Park Corrections Institution in Avon Park, FL.
The corrections officers were investigated by the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Corrections Office of the Inspector General after they received information that the officers may have been involved in bringing contraband into the jail.
In all cases, an undercover detective, posing as an inmate's relative met with each suspect and asked them to pass along contraband to inmates, WTSP News reports.
On September 13, Loya met with an undercover detective with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, who he believed was an inmate's relative. The detective gave Loya two packs of cigarettes, two cell phone SIM cards, and $400 in cash. Loya was told he can keep $250 in exchange for the deal, according to officials.
However, officials said when Loya entered the main unit of the prison, he was told he was assigned to work in a separate building that day. He walked through a metal detector, which went off. He told staff members that he forgot he had something on him and had to return it to his vehicle.
When he left, detectives said he tossed the SIM cards and cigarettes in a trash can outside the facility but pocketed the cash. Deputies said Loya was arrested in 2016 for knowingly driving with a suspended license.
On October 8, an undercover detective met with Medina at a Walmart in Avon Park, officials said. The detective gave Medina $600 in cash and told him he can keep half, but to provide the other half to an inmate. Deputies said he handed over the cash on the following day.
On September 28, Lucy met with the undercover detective. Officials said the suspect was given $200 in cash and told he can keep $100, but provide the other half to an inmate. Detectives said Lucy handed the cash to the inmate the following day.
On October 4, Lucy met with the same undercover detective to provide $60 to an inmate, but keep $100 in cash for himself, according to the sheriff's office.
The cash provided by undercover detectives were verified through serial numbers, according to the sheriff's office. All suspects face several charges including introducing currency to an inmate and receiving unauthorized compensation.
According to a DOC statement:
> “These officers broke the law and intentionally undermined the integrity of the Department and the institution they were supposed to protect. Their actions do not appropriately reflect the thousands of upstanding officers we employ across the state. We commend the work of our Inspector General’s Office and our law enforcement partners to ensure their arrest, and we will begin the process of moving forward with their immediate dismissal.”
After a thorough investigation, the officers were arrested on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 and booked into the Polk County Jail.
Loya was charged with one count of introduction of currency to an inmate and one count of unauthorized compensation.
Lucy was charged with two counts of introduction of currency to an inmate, one count of unauthorized compensation, and one count of prison employee receiving unauthorized compensation.
Medina was charged with one count of introduction of currency to an inmate and one count of unauthorized compensation. Medina has posted $1,500 bond, Loya is still in custody, being held on $2,500 bond and Lucy is in custody, being held on $3,000 bond.