CLEVELAND — A former Cuyahoga County Jail corrections officer accused of a jail smuggling operation has pleaded guilty to multiple charges and now faces nearly a decade in prison.
The former jailer, Stephen Thomas, pleaded guilty to two counts of bribery, both third-degree felonies; one count of theft in office, a fifth-degree felony and illegal conveyance of communications device onto the grounds of a specified governmental facility, a first-degree misdemeanor. He is facing up to seven and a half years in prison on those charges as well as more than $20,000 in fines when sentenced.
Thomas, who resigned following his arrest in 2019, was a member of the jail's Special Response Team, or "Men in Black." Thomas was accused of accepting thousands of dollars from inmates in exchange for providing them with heroin, vape pens, cell phones, and fentanyl behind bars.
Thomas was arrested after a detective watching jail security cameras saw him hand drugs to an inmate. When authorities searched his locker, they say they found oxycodone pills and part of a plastic glove containing suspected drugs.
Prosecutors previously said that Thomas supplied the drugs that led to one inmate's overdose in 2019.
They also previously said that an inmate paid Thomas to smuggle in a cell phone, cell phone batteries, and a vape pen in April 2019.
Investigators said Thomas also warned the inmate that investigators planned to search his cell. Prosecutors said the inmate then flushed the contraband down the toilet in his cell.
Investigators previously linked the smuggling to the Heartless Felons gang.
Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
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