|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - December 2009
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PCSO: 9 arrested in jail smuggling investigation
Polk County Enterprise - December 2009
LIVINGSTON — An investigation into the smuggling of tobacco and drugs to inmates housed at the Polk County Jail resulted in the arrest of nine people, according to Lt. Andy Lowrie of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division. The investigation was launched Oct. 27 and included two groups which consisted of five inmates and their family members, Lowrie said. “Inmates were making $30 to $50 a bag for Bugler tobacco and up to $50 for other items such as marijuana and prescription medication that could not be obtained by inmates while housed at the Polk County Jail,” Lowrie said. Family members became bolder about bringing contraband items to the area around the jail when construction work at the Polk County Criminal Justice Center required removal of the security fencing that ordinarily surrounds the back entrance to the jail and patrol vehicle parking area, according to Lowrie’s report. Lowrie said previously family members would buy the tobacco and leave it at various sites around the county and inmates assigned to work on road crews or other areas outside the county jail would smuggle the items into the jail. The items were distributed in the jail from that point. After the fencing was removed, Lowrie said family members would drive through the parking lot and drop tobacco and drugs in areas around the back part of the jail so that the items could be smuggled into the jail later than night or the next day. During the investigation, Lowrie said one suspect in the smuggling operation, Carrie Nelson, was heard on a recording telling her husband/boyfriend Eric Rodgers that she does not even make the drops anymore, that her son does the drops for her. In all, nine people were charged in connection with the smuggling investigation. Chester Aaron Gorsha, an inmate in the Polk County Jail was charged with engaging in organized crime, a second degree felony.
He is in custody for burglary of a habitation after his bond was surrendered. Daniel Lee Falls, another inmate, was charged with engaging in organized crime, a second degree felony and prohibited substance in a correctional facility, a third degree felony. Molly Sue Henry, the mother of Daniel Lee Falls, and Falls’ wife, Candice Nicole Bernal, and Falls’ brother-in-law, John Gregory Alexander, were all charged with engaging in organized crime, a second degree felony. Byron Wade Caldwell and Eric Christopher Rodgers, both jail inmates, were charged with engaging in organized crime, a second degree felony. Rodgers’ girlfriend, Carrie Jo Nelson, was charged with engaging in organized crime, a second degree felony and faces additional charges for using her child to complete the drops at the jail. Caldwell’s girlfriend, Francis Arlene Morin, was charged with engaging in organized crime, a second degree felony. Several of the inmates were nearing parole dates, which now will be postponed with the new charges pending. Daniel Lee Falls was in jail after pleading guilty to a theft charge and being sentenced to probation and some jail time, according to Lowrie. He did not even make it out of jail before his probation was revoked for the new charges. The Polk County jail is a tobacco-free facility and has been since about 2006, after Sheriff Kenneth Hammack took office. Signs are posted throughout the sheriff’s office stating that all forms of tobacco are prohibited. Lowrie added that the parking areas around the sheriff’s office are under constant video surveillance and that video is recorded and stored at the sheriff’s office. A second degree felony carries a penalty of imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for two to 20 years as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Some of the suspects charged in connection with this investigation without a history of other serious crimes would more than likely be sentenced to felony probation, according to Lowrie.