Two former Hamilton Correctional Institution corrections officers were arrested recently for money laundering, bribery and introducing contraband into Hamilton CI, according to arrest reports from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
Reports show that on Wednesday, Feb. 12, Tom Pierce Jr., 47, 1080 Mary St. Jennings, and Johnnie Ruth Young, 54, 16955 Mill St., White Springs, were both booked into Hamilton County Jail on $10,000 bond each on a host of charges after an internal investigation revealed the two were involved in a money laundering operation within Hamilton CI.
Pierce and Young, while employed at Hamilton CI, knowingly and willfully diverted monies, financial transactions, wire transfers and other exchanges of currency to introduce contraband such as cigarettes, tobacco, narcotics and cell phones into the prison, which they passed along to inmates in exchange for monetary rewards, reports state.
Several of the transactions were utilized via Green-Dot money transfers and were applied to prepaid debit cards owned by Pierce. Evidence also suggested Young used her White Springs post office box to receive contraband and financial transactions in the form of U.S. currency, as well as Green-Dot MoneyPaks (i.e. prepaid debit cards), according to reports.
Reports further state that months before their arrests, Pierce and Young had Green-Dot bank cards and both were receiving alarming amounts of deposits, which caused Green-Dot to suspend both accounts, after which they prevented either of them from conducting further business with their financial institution.
As the investigation progressed, a cell phone was confiscated from an inmate, which showed text messages between the inmate and Young. The inmate, during a sworn interview, told authorities he had directed his girlfriend to send the cell phone to Young’s post office box in White Springs, along with other illicit contraband and a $500 Green-Dot MoneyPak, which was payment to Young and Pierce for bringing the inmate the cell phone and other contraband, reports show.
A second inmate testified he was involved with Pierce, Young and a third correctional officer in helping to introduce the contraband into the prison. The inmate stated he paid Pierce thousands of dollars in Green-Dot MoneyPaks as payment from other inmates in exchange for their requested contraband, such as tobacco, synthetic marijuana, cell phones and health supplements. The elaborate scheme involved the inmate texting Young and using code words to communicate, HCSO said.
Additionally, family members of two inmates sent payments directly to Young.
Young and Pierce were charged with money laundering over $300 and less than $20,000, offering commercial bribes and smuggling contraband into the prison. They were booked into Hamilton County Jail on $10,000 bond each and have since posted bail.