Third suspect charged in Ga. prison contraband plot
Was found with a package containing suspected methamphetamine and marijuana as well as tobacco and cigarette lighters
By Alan Mauldin
The Moultrie Observer
MOULTRIE — A third suspect has been charged in what law enforcement described as an attempt by one inmate to bring contraband from an outside source into prison for another inmate.
Joseph Paul French, who pleaded guilty two months ago to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, was identified by police as the person for whom Justin Joseph Griffin allegedly accepted a package on June 12 while working at the Colquitt County Landfill.
A Wednesday story in The Moultrie Observer had the inmates’ names reversed.
Griffin was found with a package containing suspected methamphetamine and marijuana as well as tobacco and cigarette lighters after a Colquitt County Correctional Institution guard saw an apparent hand-off of the contraband, Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office Inv. Jerome Burgess said. The guard and a fellow officer confronted Griffin and Daniel Paul Hamilton as Griffin was putting the package in his pocket, Burgess said.
The sheriff’s office charged Griffin, 21, the inmate, with two counts possession of items prohibited by inmate. Hamilton, 31, 4392 Tallokas Road, was charged with possession of amphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Prison personnel reported that Hamilton arrived at the landfill on Shade Murphy Road in a white Chevrolet Tahoe near to the area where Griffin was working and handed him a package, Burgess said.
French, 29, was charged with one count conspiracy to possess items prohibited by inmate. Specifically, he is accused in connection with the tobacco, Burgess said.
French pleaded guilty in April to a single count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in connection with two drug-possession cases.
French was arrested in April 2014 and again the next month in separate cases related to possession of methamphetamine.
French was arrested in April 2014 when a jogger flagged down a passing police car to report suspicious activity at the former Wilkes Nursery building on South Main Street. That business had been closed for some time.
Investigators with the sheriff’s office said that a likely drug deal was thwarted when French was taken into custody and officers seized “crystal meth” — the professionally manufactured variety of methamphetamine — as well as cocaine, hydrocodone, other pain medications, methadone and Viagra.
French also was charged at that time with possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
The following month he was charged in a separate incident with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled substance and improper headlights.
French was sentenced to serve two years at the county prison in the plea deal in which the charges related to the May drug bust and all other charges in both indictments were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea for possessing methamphetamine. He also was fined $2,000 and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service work.