CHEROKEE CO., S.C. (WSPA) – Six people–including a detention officer and two inmates–are now facing charges after investigators said they got contraband inside the Cherokee County Detention Center.
“He was honest and shared that he was not making enough money and that the extra money he was making by bringing the contraband in helped him pay his bills,” Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said.
Detention Officer Christopher Gillespie was fired and arrested after investigators say he helped get contraband to two inmates inside the Cherokee County Jail.
“We are not going to allow anybody who does the wrong thing to stay within the ranks of our agency and we’re going to take care of business quickly,” Sheriff Mueller said.
The two inmates–Eric Barron and Dewayne Lipscomb–remain in jail and are now facing more charges because of the scheme. But they’re not the only ones.
“Our investigators began to listen to the phone calls between the inmates and their family and friends, and that led us to the other three people,” Sheriff Mueller said.
Jennifer Barron, Lora Smith, and Shannon Cady have also been charged with furnishing contraband in a prison after investigators said they worked with former officer Gillespie to get items to their loved ones.
“Tobacco–smokeless form–and cigarettes. He brought in some vaping devices, along with a telephone,” Sheriff Mueller said. “They would give him the contraband and give him a cash payment, and, the next shift he was working, he would bring that into the facility and get it into the hands of those inmates.”
Gillespie had only been working in the jail for about 90 days. Investigators believe he assisted the inmates four or five times and made about $1,000 doing it.
“That’s the sad part of the story,” Sheriff Mueller said. “He’s lost his career in this profession. He’ll never serve as an officer here or anywhere else and all for a measly thousand bucks.”
Sheriff Mueller now has a message for the community.
“When we find those bad actors, we’re going to get them out of our system and we’re going to charge them accordingly,” he said. “This one officer’s actions should never reflect what the other 99% are doing right every day and that’s what frustrates us.”
Sheriff Mueller said he’d like to use this as an opportunity to recruit more honest detention officers. If you’re interested in signing up, you can go by the Cherokee County Detention Center for an application.
Before the contraband scheme, Barron was in jail on drug and weapons charges. Lipscomb was in on murder, attempted murder, attempted armed robbery and burglary charges.