Eight state prison employees fired in contraband smuggling probe

Eight employees at the Morgan County Regional Correctional Complex have been fired in an ongoing probe started after an inmate breached the state prison’s perimeter, only to return in an apparent effort to smuggle contraband into the prison, reports the Times Free Press.

Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Neysa Taylor on Friday confirmed the employees’ dismissals Friday in response to Times Free Press inquiries based on tips from several sources.

But citing an ongoing Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe, Taylor refused to say more, referring a reporter to a Jan. 26 news release posted on the department’s website. It says nothing about the staff dismissals, but it does outline how prison security staff found evidence showing inmate Robert Fusco, 36, had “breached the secure perimeter” of the facility.

“Although this case is highly unusual, it appears that the inmate was not trying to flee custody but was in fact attempting to introduce contraband into the facility,” the release says.

…In an article published Jan. 30, The Morgan County News reported that District Attorney Russell was informed on Jan. 12 about the Fusco matter.

The newspaper said Fusco was serving a life sentence and noted there were reports he had put a dummy in his bed, which went unnoticed by prison staff during “multiple” bed checks. TDOC officials did not provide an answer when questioned about those reports, the newspaper said.

The department said the “breach highlights the threat that contraband and those looking to introduce contraband pose to correctional facilities. This threat is not limited to TDOC facilities, but negatively affects prisons throughout the country.

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