A joint investigation into a bribery scheme at the Jackson County Detention Center led agents to arrest four people, including two correctional officers, after a search of the jail Monday morning.
Court documents released Monday detail an alleged contraband smuggling operation at the jail that spurred the investigation. The criminal complaint accuses 26-year-old Andre Dickerson and 29-year-old Jalee Fuller, both corrections officers at the jail, of working with inmate Carlos Hughley to smuggle cigarettes, narcotics, cell phones and other contraband into the jail in exchange for hundreds of dollars at a time.
The documents also suggest 32-year-old Hughley may be the father of Fuller's "recently born child," and describe the fourth suspect, 36-year-old Janikkia Carter, as "more than an acquaintance" to Hughley. Carter was a sort of liaison between the investigation's confidential informants and Hughley, according to the documents, and stands accused of taking money to smuggle contraband into the jail.
Hughley is currently serving 10 years in prison on a drug conviction, and was in the Jackson County jail awaiting trial in a separate case on charges including domestic assault, armed criminal action, resisting arrest and drug charges.
Dickerson, while employed at the jail, allegedly offered one of the informants a $2,500 per month deal to set up a continual smuggling operation into the jail. He's also accused of accepting a $500 bribe from a different informant for related services.
At least 200 law enforcement officers took part in Monday morning's search of the jail as part of an investigation that began weeks ago. Two confidential informants helped investigators uncover the alleged illegal activity, which court documents say began in May and continued at least through early June.
One of the informants was out on probation and in communication with the defendants about the illegal operation, per the documents. The other informant was an inmate and directly involved in coordinating the cash-for-contraband set up.
— Belinda Post (@Belinda_Post) June 26, 2017
Prosecutor Jean Peters Bakers said the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office worked in conjunction with the FBI and Department of Corrections in this investigation. She also said that charges won’t be filed Monday because there is still too much of the investigation ahead, but charges can be expected in the near future.
In February 2016, officials raided the jail for illegal contraband, including cellphones, weapons and narcotics.
Fuller and Carter went before a judge Monday morning. The court let Fuller go on her own recognizance. Carter, however, will remain in jail in part due to outstanding warrants in Kansas City and Grandview in what appear to be unrelated cases.
All four defendants face charges related to violating the Travel Act, which, in part, prohibits the use of telephones to further any criminal activity, including the bribery and corruption detailed in the federal complaint.
As the investigation continues to unfold, more arrests and additional charges remain possible, as well as details on the specific charges for each defendant.
The prosecution has said it will seek detention without bond for Dickerson and Hughley.
According to county officials, both correctional officers involved in the alleged scheme are off the job. The office of County Executive Frank White, Jr., released a statement Monday afternoon.
“We have dedicated and well-trained associates working hard inside the jail each and every day, but we must hold those who are breaking the rules accountable if we want to make forward progress,” said White. “We will not tolerate such reckless behavior.”
The next round of court appearances in this case is scheduled for the afternoon of July 29.
Former inmate: 'I say it's hell on Earth.'
Monday’s arrests are the latest in a two-year federal investigation into the jail after inmate accusations of rape, cell doors not locking and guards using excessive force.
“This place is, I say it’s hell on Earth. I would rather be anywhere but there,” said Colby Apolinar, who was released from the detention center nine days ago.
Like other former inmates, Apolinar told 41 Action News he witnessed guards using excessive force on inmates and ignoring those who needed medical attention. He also said the living conditions inside the jail were “horrible” with mold growing everywhere.
“I am hoping that for real this opens up the eyes and let’s them find out what else is going in on there because just smuggling in stuff that’s just the beginning of it. There is way more going on in this place that needs to be found out,” Apolinar said.