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Press Release

Former Correctional Officer, Two Others Indicted for Smuggling Oxycodone into Shelby County Jail

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN –A Shelby County Correctional Officer and two other individuals have been indicted for their roles in a scheme to smuggle prescription opioids and other contraband inside the Shelby County Correctional Center. Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee; Michael T. Gavin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Memphis Division; and Bill Gupton, Director of the Shelby County Division of Corrections, announced the indictments today.

"Committing criminal acts like those alleged threatens the reputation of the many correctional officers who perform their jobs with honor and integrity every day," said U.S. Attorney Stanton. "This indictment should serve as a reminder that no one is excluded from criminal prosecution."

According to the indictments, Kevin Thomas, 38; Kalon Jennings, 29; and Aaron Travonta Wallace, 26; all of Memphis, Tennessee; attempted to smuggle oxycodone and other contraband into the Shelby County Correctional Center. The defendants’ criminal behavior was revealed during an undercover investigation law enforcement conducted between April 2015 and August 2016.

In addition to the smuggling of oxycodone, the investigation revealed that Jennings, a correctional officer, sold numerous inmates’ social security numbers in exchange for cash on two separate occasions.

"These indictments represent the successful cooperative efforts of the FBI and its partners to target those who would attempt to smuggle contraband into a Correctional Center and the corrupt Correctional Officers who assist them," said Gavin. "The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue those who choose to break the law, no matter where that may occur."

"Once we discovered the scheme, our staff immediately reported these actions to area law enforcement agencies," said Gupton. "This multi-agency investigation led to the arrests. It should send a clear message to our staff at the corrections center that the net is always out there. If policy violations or criminal actions occur, there will be swift consequences."

Thomas and Wallace are each being charged with one count of attempting to unlawfully possess with the intent to distribute and distribute oxycodone. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

Jennings is being charged with two counts of attempting to unlawfully possess with the intent to distribute and distribute oxycodone. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million per count.

Jennings is also being charged with two counts of unlawfully possessing and using the social security numbers of numerous inmates during the commission of a felony violation. If convicted, he faces a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, which is consecutive to any other term of imprisonment. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Tarnished Badge Task Force and the Shelby County Correctional Center.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Whitmore is prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated November 16, 2016