For Immediate Release
GDC joint investigation with the FBI results in Federal Indictments
More than 50 individuals charged in corruption, fraud, and money laundering
FORSYTH, Ga. – As part of a joint investigative effort between the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), federal indictments have been handed down for four current GDC Correctional Officers, 11 former GDC Correctional Officers, one former contract employee, 18 current inmates, and 18 civilians, to include two parolees. The four officers, who were most recently employed by the agency, were terminated effective today, January 21, 2016.
“We will not stand for corruption within the walls of our prisons and the imposing threat against the safety of our citizens,” said GDC Commissioner Homer Bryson. “This is why the continuation of our partnership with the FBI is imperative in combating and exposing these criminal networks.”
GDC and the FBI have been working together for approximately two years in this joint operation, culminating today, January 21, in these arrests, and the exposure of a criminal network inside the walls of Autry State Prison. Autry is a medium-security facility, located in Pelham, Ga., housing approximately 1,700 adult male felons.
The 54 individuals who have been indicted are: current GDC employees, Correctional Officer (CO) Jokelra Copeland, CO Renaldo Freeman, CO Chameta Isom, and CO Shameka Williams; former GDC Officers, Shalonda Baker, Jonathan Jamaal Daniels, Tyler Dickens, J.D. “Dayia Diont’e” Gilbert, Brian Kennedy, Calvin Martin, Tadia Mercer, Kiatya Milton, Shebrikia Stewart, Christina Wilson, Ermesha “Brianna” Wingfield; contract employee Cassaundra Gordon McGhee; current inmates Austin Bradley (GDC #1001012690), Kahary Campbell (GDC #889061), Ricky Knight (GDC #933339), Jessee Edward Lopez (GDC #1000267490), Sharron McCoy (GDC #1260513), Michael Blaine Oliver (GDC #1000309541), Steven Paul Patterson (GDC #1001345606), David Pinder (GDC #1244049), Anthony Powell (GDC #1000809552), Anthony Craig Sanders (GDC #1000516270), Terrance Dante Shields (GDC #685736), Clifford Smalls (GDC #1000297829), Shameik Spinks (GDC #1000760430), Joseph Louis Tate, Jr. (GDC #1295243), Edward Townsend (GDC #748178), Derrick Lorenzo Watson (GDC #923157), Benjamin Williams, Jr. (GDC #1000806820), and Rokei Winston (GDC #1292198); parolees Caesar Futch, Jr. and Reginald Perkins; civilians Leanna Bearden, Iesha Bell, Ashley Butler, Toccara Cantrell, Cellie Louise Clark, Willa Davis, Keri Hatcher, Bettie Jones, Laporshia Knight, Melissa Lloyd, Amber Mayes, Tangela Parks, Aida Rosa, Veronica Andrea Watters, Douglas Welch, and Quintavious Williams. Details on charges for these individuals can be found within the Department of Justice’s press release.
During the investigation, it was discovered that contraband cell phones were allegedly used by inmates inside Autry State Prison to access websites in order to identify names, addresses, and phone numbers of potential victims. Inmates used these devices to call victims and falsely represent themselves to be law enforcement officials, falsely accuse victims of failure to appear for jury duty, falsely inform victims that due to their failure to appear in court that warrants had been issued for their arrests, and falsely advise victims that they had a choice of being arrested on warrants issued or paying a fine to have the warrant dismissed. Victims, who selected to pay a fine, purchased pre-paid cash cards and provided account numbers to inmates at Autry State Prison.
“Eliminating illegal cell phones, from our facilities, is a top priority for our agency,” said Commissioner Bryson. “Working closely with our partners at the FBI is just one of the many tools we are using to combat this serious issue. In October 2015, our agency had the opportunity to meet with Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai to discuss the issue that plagues Corrections across the United States. Since our meeting, we have continued to discuss and work together on this issue. Additional actions we are taking include internal enhancements, such as training for contraband detection, assignment of cell phone detection dogs, improved incoming package screening, enhanced screening during staff shift changes, and secure evidence storage procedures.”
Furthermore, GDC continues to utilize technological efforts such as Cell Sense detection, thermal imaging, Through Body Scanners, etc., all of which can be reviewed in the agency’s special publication, detailing what the public should know about cell phones in Georgia prisons and how they can help.
The GDC has one of the largest prison systems in the U.S. and is responsible for supervising nearly 52,000 state prisoners. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with approximately 10,500 employees.
For more information on the GDC call 478-992-5247 or visit http://www.gdc.ga.gov