Pair admit they tried to sneak drugs through holes at jail
Two local residents were sentenced to serve three months in jail last week for trying to bring drugs through holes in the walls at the Floyd County Detention Center.
On Jan. 3, District Judge Eric D. Hall sentenced Brandy Tucker and Jason Stumbo to serve 90 days in jail for promoting contraband charges that were recently filed against them.
Tucker, 37, of Prestonsburg, pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting contraband and two counts of conspiracy to promote contraband. The second-degree promoting contraband charge was filed because she brought cigarettes and a small bag of marijuana into the jail. The conspiracy charges came because she tried to sneak drugs into holes in the jail walls, officials reported.
Stumbo, 42, of Prestonsburg, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to promote contraband. He was arrested on Dec. 30 at the jail, where he was being housed for a drug court violation, Assistant County Attorney Tyler Green said.
Tucker was arrested on Jan. 1 by the Prestonsburg Police Department, which served an arrest warrant filed by Sgt. Bradley Fields of the Floyd County Detention Center.
Fields reported in the warrant that on Dec. 22, Tucker and Stumbo “engaged in multiple phone conversations” and Stumbo instructed Tucker to “make a ‘drop’ of drugs and tobacco” at the jail.
“Brandy Tucker then attempted to execute the ‘drop’ at the Floyd County Detention Center,” Fields wrote. “Deputy jailers recovered a quantity of Suboxone, tobacco, straws, and tape attached to a string outside of the building.”
Green said the conspiracy was a bit unusual.
“The jailers actually recovered the string and several straws where Brandy had placed tobacco and Suboxone inside the straws in an attempt for Jason to pull a string attached to the straw in a hole in the side of the jail. Luckily, they were not successful,” he said. “Contraband cases are, unfortunately, not unusual, but the typical contraband case is where an inmate is actually searched and something’s found on the inmate’s person, such as methamphetamine, Suboxone and needles, a razor, cell phone. I mean, we’ve seen everything over the years. But actually catching someone in the act from the outside is a little less normal, quite a bit less normal.”
He commended Jailer Stuart “Bear” Halbert for seeking prosecution of contraband cases.
“The inmates will dig a hole in the side of the jail. If you go look at the side of the jail, you’ll see all the holes that have been patched up on the side of the jail over the years with concrete,” Green said. “And I have to really commend Bear Halbert and the jail staff for the efforts they’ve taken to prevent contraband from being introduced into our jail. They’ve made a really big dent in it since Bear’s been the jailer. They’ve closed these holes up. They routinely search cells, search inmates, and I would venture to say Bear has prosecuted more contraband cases as jailer than any other jailer in the history of Floyd County, combined.”
He said Halbert is the county’s first jailer to appoint a staff member to investigate criminal offenses that take place in the jail, like assaults, contraband cases and other crimes.
Fields took on that role at the jail a few weeks ago. Prior to that, Sgt. Parker DeRossett handled all jail-based criminal investigations.
“They’ve both done an excellent job,” Green said. “They don’t care to ask questions and coordinate with our office.”
Under Halbert’s administration, the jail has prosecuted more than 300 people for promoting contraband.
“It’s something we fight every day,” Halbert said. “I mean, it’s a big part of it … It’s my number one priority, is keeping stuff out of here and keeping these inmates safe, and that’s what we’re doing.”
He said the number of promoting contraband cases have increased because illegal drug use has increased over the years. He explained years ago, prior administrations dealt mostly with people who were addicted to alcohol and marijuana.
“You’ve got so many different things now … The times have changed and the mentalities and things, but the drugs, now, it’s meth and bath salts, your opioids and Suboxone,” he said. “I mean, all they really had to fight was marijuana and alcohol back years ago. Now, it’s overwhelming. The county hasn’t seen the situation like it’s in right now. This meth is just absolutely overwhelming.”
He said the contraband most usually brought to the jail was Suboxone up until about a year ago, when deputies started finding more methamphetamine on inmates. Halbert said it “flipped like a light switch” from Suboxone to meth.
He said he will continue to seek prosecution of all promoting contraband cases.
“It’s been a fight from day one. I’m not crazy by any means. I know we’ll never stop it, I don’t care where you’re at, what prison or jail or whatever, it’s going to happen. But, like I tell my staff, we just have to do everything we can to stop it,” Halbert said.
He said the jail walls are being reinforced with metal to cut down on drilling.
“The metal will deter that, but they’ll find some other way,” he said. “We just have to keep, just keep going on.”
The detention center provides video surveillance of every cell, as well as the outside of the building, and the videos are used to prosecute these cases.
“So, if someone comes up and tries to do something like Brandy Tucker did, it’s on video and they’ll be caught,” Green said.
He said video surveillance played a role in the prosecution of this case, as did the telephone calls between Tucker and Stumbo.
“There were some phone conversations that were recorded between Jason Stumbo and Brandy Tucker and that led to watching the video and finding the contraband outside,” Green said.
Green said Stumbo will serve a total of 123 days in jail because of the 90-day sentence in this case and his probation violation in the drug court case. He warns the public not to try to sneak contraband into the jail.
“If you introduce drugs into our jail, you will be caught and you will serve time,” Green said.
By Mary Meadows
Floyd County Chronicle and Times