Three Brown County jailers have been fired and face third degree felony charges over allegations that they provided contraband to an inmate, Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said.
Two inmates have also been charged.
The jailers, Anthony Spivey, Josh Crowder and Jason Behler, are accused of providing snuff to an inmate, and Spivey and Crowder are accused of allowing an inmate to use their cell phones, complaints filed by sheriff’s investigator Scott Bird in Justice of the Peace Bryan Thompson’s court states.
Sheriff’s officials allege that tobacco was being brought into the jail for an inmate named Harold Johnson, Grubbs said. “Harold Johnson would then distribute the tobacco in the jail to other inmates for monetary gain,” Grubbs said. “Harold Johnson was also using the cell phones of jailers … to make the arrangements for the tobacco to be brought into the jail.”
It wasn’t an option to overlook the alleged offenses, Grubbs said. “If you turn your head once, you’ve got to keep turning,” Grubbs said. “We would be wrong if we tried to sweep it under the carpet and act like it didn’t happen. That’s not what we do.”
Spivey was featured in a Bulletin article and photo on May 18 for being one of several sheriff’s office employees who received awards from Grubbs. Spivey and another jailer serving with the National Guard, James Cole, received letters of appreciation in honor of their Guard service and previous deployments to Iraq.
They were scheduled for deployment for a second tour, but Spivey isn’t being deployed overseas because of the criminal charges, Bird said.
A few days after giving out the awards, sheriff’s officials received information that jailers may have been involved in illegal acts, Grubbs said. He said investigators did not initially publicize the investigation after arresting Spivey because they did not want to give “advance notice” to other jailers who might have been involved.
“It was not a fun investigation. It had to be done,” Bird said. “It’s never fun investigating another officer. You’re investigating someone you work with and know. It’s never easy to do but it’s something you have to do.”
Bird said inmates’ “main goal is to better themselves while in jail. They’ll do anything they can to befriend a jailer. They’re playing a game with the jailer.”
Grubbs said sheriff’s officials tell new jailers “we treat these people fairly, humanely, but we still have to keep a wall between us.” Jailers need to remember, Grubbs said, that inmates, no matter how friendly they might seem, “are on the other team.”