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Former corrections officers allegedly smuggled cell phones, drugs into Milwaukee HOC

Milwaukee House of Corrections
Posted at 1:08 PM, Sep 01, 2021

FRANKLIN — The Milwaukee House of Correction has fired three Corrections Officers for their alleged involvement at smuggling contraband into the House of Correction in Franklin over the course of three months.

Two COs, Tewan Bailey-Darnell and Jahkiah Grant, have been charged with felony smuggling and misconduct. A third CO, alleged to be the leader of the scheme, has yet to be charged. All three have been fired by the HOC.

The I-Team discovered the investigation in recently unsealed search warrants. The plan, detailed over more than 100 pages of search warrants and criminal complaints, goes into detail about how the scheme started and how it was carried out.

According to a search warrant, Inmate 1 told investigators the smuggling scheme started in December of 2020. He says a female CO approached him with an offer of bringing in Suboxone tablets; a medication used to help opioid addiction.

Inmate 1 says he declined the drugs but was offered a cell phone. As part of the deal, Inmate 1 says he was ordered to move “Suboxone, THC vape pens, food and electronic(s) to her “boyfriend.” The CO’s boyfriend was housed in an adjacent dorm.

The search warrant describes the initial scheme as one for the CO to be able to communicate with her boyfriend, passing notes and a phone to him. However, it quickly grew into more.

The COs are alleged to have started accepting payment from Inmate 1 who was receiving money from other inmates’ families on the outside through a mobile payment service called CashApp. In essence, Inmate 1 allegedly charged a heavy markup on an item. The family member on the outside would send the money to Inmate 1’s fiancee, Dylianette Nunez-Alvira, through CashApp. Nunez-Alvira faces felony conspiracy charges in the case.

CO Grant allegedly picked up the items from Nunez-Alvira’s residence and would bring them to the HOC where Grant and/or Bailey-Darnell would bring them inside. In the search warrant, Inmate 1 says he would pay the COs through CashApp for them bringing in the contraband.

A different inmate told investigators, Inmate 1 charged other inmates:

  • $50 for Percocet pills
  • $50 for fast food
  • $250 for Marijuana vape pens
  • $1,000-$1,500 for cell phones
  • $3,500 for a handgun

It’s untold how much money was made by the COs involved in the operation. According to a criminal complaint, Grant delivered items three times for $800.

According to the search warrant, Inmate 1 benefited from the scheme as well. He told investigators he would charge an extra $50 for each item to fund food delivery orders. The COs are alleged to have charged $50 for each food delivery they would bring in.

Bailey-Darnell is accused of joining the inmates in consuming the contraband. According to the criminal complaint, Inmate 1 said Bailey-Darnell was well aware, saying, “yeah, Bailey knew the vapes was there cuz Bailey hit the vapes.” Inmate 1 says Bailey-Darnell used the vape pens every time he worked the dorm, would charge the flip phone for inmates by taking it home and would eat food ordered by the inmates in exchange for keeping quiet.

Bailey accused of vaping at work
Inmate 1 accused CO Tewan Bailey-Darnell of vaping marijuana while on the job at the Milwaukee County House of Correction.

The operation went on from at least January 21 to April 24 of 2021. It was foiled after an inmate receiving a contraband phone didn’t have his full payment go through. Inmate 1 allowed the other inmate to call his family member on the outside to add more money to the account when another Corrections Officer spotted them using the phone.

Inmate 1 detailed how he would receive the contraband items in the search warrant, telling investigators, the COs “would put [the items] in the porter’s closet for [Inmate 1] to pick up later.” From there, Inmate 1 told investigators he would grab brooms and other cleaning items so he could take them to the other dorms.

The HOC investigation found two cell phones, vapes, weight gain supplements and an external cell phone charger.

The HOC declined to be interviewed for this story but the County Executive’s Office, who appointed Superintendent Chantell Jewell, released the following statement:

Crowley statement on HOC
Milwaukee County Executive, David Crowley, feels confident this is an isolated incident.

“The Milwaukee County House of Correction (HOC) remains a safe and secure facility. HOC leadership has always taken the appropriate measures to ensure a high-level of security at the facility, and have doubled-down on those efforts since this incident. We are confident that the officers remaining at HOC are committed to enforcing HOC rules and ensuring the highest level of security available at the facility.”

Jewell officially took over the HOC in December of 2020, the same month Inmate 1 allegedly said the smuggling scheme started. In response to questions about Jewell’s leadership, the County Executive’s Office said, “ The County Executive is in full support of Superintendent Jewell and her leadership at HOC. During the past year of uncertainty, fueled by an ever-changing COVID-19 landscape, Superintendent Jewell and her leadership staff have worked tirelessly around the clock to keep employees and others in our care safe from the spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, the County Executive is confident that Superintendent Jewell is actively working towards Milwaukee County’s goal of achieving racial equity and helping to implement our strategic plan to move resources upstream to meet the needs of our residents so that individuals don’t find themselves in our care to begin with.”

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