April 5, 2014 8:20:33 PM
PEARL -- Two guards at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County are charged with trying to sneak contraband items into the prison in food.
Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps said in a news release Wednesday that the two were arrested in separate incidents and both are subject to firing.
Epps said Erling Gresham, 26, of Jackson, was arrested Sunday when officers found Gresham's 12-inch bread-only sandwich contained 2.80 ounces of tobacco. Gresham told investigators an inmate offered him $200 to bring the tobacco in.
Epps said Tamikta Russell, 34, of Jackson, was arrested March 26 after she tried to smuggle in not only tobacco but also marijuana and other contraband in three burritos inside a Tupperware container.
Both were arrested during a routine search when they reported for duty.
"These arrests are a result of the Mississippi Department of Corrections' intensified efforts to reduce contraband items," Epps said. "You would be surprised by the different ways in which people try to bring in contraband. That's why we must always be alert and ready.
Gresham and Russell are each charged with possession of prohibited items by persons other than offenders for possessing tobacco. A conviction carries a maximum one year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both.
Gresham was still in the Rankin County Jail on a $1,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Russell, who posted a $20,000 bond Friday from the Rankin County jail, is also charged with possession of marijuana and introduction of contraband. The 6.40 ounces of tobacco, 48.7 grams of marijuana and other contraband were inside plastic bags concealed in the burritos, Epps said.
If convicted on the marijuana possession charge, she faces a maximum $25,000 fine and between three and seven years in prison.
Under state law, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility is a felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison, a maximum $25,000 fine, or both.
Russell had been working for the Corrections Department since July 1, 2013. Gresham had been employed since Nov. 1, 2012.
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