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Sheriff investigating accusation of contraband smuggling into Ohio jail

The sheriff is looking into accusations of “inappropriate” conduct by food service employees


Issues with smuggling into the jail has been a longstanding issue.

Photo/Cory Shaffer of via TNS

By Adam Ferrise
Advance Ohio Media

CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Sheriff is investigating accusations of contraband smuggling into the county jail, possibly involving food service workers, a county spokeswoman said.

County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan said Thursday she could not release specific details of the case, which began Friday, but that the sheriff is looking the accusations of “inappropriate” conduct by food service employees. She would not say exactly what kind of contraband was smuggled into the jail.

Issues with smuggling into the jail has been a longstanding issue. Two corrections officers were arrested in connection with a drug-smuggling operation in which the officers worked in tandem with a Heartless Felons street gang member to smuggler heroin, vape pens and cellphones into the jail for inmates, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

One of the inmates survived an overdose on the drugs sold by the group, according to prosecutors.

The current investigation includes “looking into” accusations of wrongdoing by food service employees at the jail, Madigan said. Some food service employees are county employees; others work for the private Trinity Food Services Group.

The county approved a $9 million contract in June for Trinity to provide food service. County Council approved the contract eight months after they tabled discussions on the vote because of news reports of issues the company had at other jails.

Trinity at the time sent a lengthy list of rebuttals of some of the news reports. A Trinity spokesman said late Thursday that they are looking into the incident.

Cuyahoga County previously handled food service with only in-house employees. The U.S. Marshals Service in 2018 cited poor food quality as one of several issues at the jail.

Under the contract with Cuyahoga County, Trinity buys and prepares all food for inmates and provides managers to oversee operations. County employees and inmates continue to distribute the meals to inmates.


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