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Former Hernando County corrections officer pleads guilty to drug charges

BROOKSVILLE — A former Hernando County corrections officer who promised to deliver drugs to inmates at the county lockup pleaded guilty Friday to three drug-related charges.

Circuit Judge Jack Springstead sentenced Charles M. Dunn, 27, to 13 months in state prison.

Dunn offered to deliver oxycodone pills to inmates for a $500 fee, according to arrest reports. He later denied ever giving inmates drugs but claimed it is easy to get illegal narcotics into the jail because staffers don't make thorough checks.

The Spring Hill resident faced a maximum of 35 years in prison for solicitation to traffic oxycodone, the sale of oxycodone and using a cell phone to facilitate a felony, said Assistant State Attorney Erin Corcoran Daly.

He left his fate up to the judge, who gave him the minimum guideline punishment, which is Springstead's standard policy.

Dunn is no longer employed at the privately run facility, and the circumstances surrounding his departure were not immediately available, a jail official said.

Dunn told the judge he was subject to involuntary commitment under the state's 2008 Baker Act for drug addiction and mental problems. It's unclear whether jail officials knew about the incident.

Authorities arrested Dunn on Feb. 20 after setting up an undercover sting operation.

It started when an unidentified source told the Hernando County Sheriff's Office about illegal drugs at the jail, which is managed by Corrections Corporation of America, a Tennessee-based company.

Dunn, who went by the nickname "D," coordinated his potential sales with friends and relatives outside the jail.

In this case, he offered to sell 42 pills for $870 to an undercover officer and deliver 22 of them at a later date to inmates at the jail, arrest reports state.

Dunn also sold two of the prescription pain pills to the officer for $10 each when they met at the Hess gas station at the intersection of Mariner and Northcliffe boulevards in Spring Hill. Deputies arrested him nearby.

In an interview with investigators, Dunn said he has never given drugs to inmates and planned to just pocket the money.

But he said jail employees could sneak drugs into the jail by concealing them in lunch bags and personal property. He said "no one checks in depth for illegal narcotics," reports state.

Assistant warden Orlando Rodriguez declined to comment on Dunn's case. But he said the jail policies include searching all employees as they come to work.

Staffers must pass through a metal detector and put all belongings through an X-ray machine. Lunch bags are supposed to be clear plastic.

Rodriguez said jail management also conducts unannounced searches and random drug tests.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Former Hernando County corrections officer pleads guilty to drug charges 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 5:40pm]
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