2 Juvenile corrections officers face felony charges in crackdown

benw@ledger-enquirer.comApril 20, 2013 

Two juvenile corrections officers for the Muscogee County Youth Development Campus face felony charges in an ongoing crackdown against internal corruption, white collar crime and other violations, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice said Friday.

Commissioner Avery D. Niles identified the officers as Anthony Harvey and Keith Spruills. Harvey is charged with crossing guard lines with a controlled substance , a felony, misdemeanor possession of marijuana and violation of oath of office.

Niles said the arrest of Spruills is pending on charges of crossing the guard line with contraband, introducing contraband inside a juvenile secure facility, both felonies, and misdemeanor violation of oath of office.

Both officers have been placed on immediate suspension without pay after warrants were issued. The officers could face up to four-year prison sentences if convicted on the charges.

"We are wasting no time recommending criminal prosecution wherever evidence is found and prosecution is warranted to remove officer misconduct from our ranks and to protect Georgia's youth in detention," Niles said in a statement. "And I promise the agency will continue to fast track administrative and criminal corrective measures wherever a need is found to combat internal corruption and wrongdoing."

Harvey, a six-year employee at the YDC, was arrested after a K-9 unit from the Georgia Department of Corrections alerted to the officer's vehicle during a random security sweep. Investigators discovered marijuana inside the vehicle which was parked inside the guard lines.

During the probe, investigators said they have evidence allegedly linking Spruills to the smuggling of cellphones, cigarettes, lighters and blunt spray to detained youths.

Although the investigation is ongoing, two other juvenile corrections officers have submitted their resignations and a third was administratively terminated.

The investigation started in October 2012 after a 36-year-old woman was arrested for concealing an illegal cellphone in her clothing to smuggle the device to a teen during a visit for school graduation.

Since July 2012, it has been a felony to smuggle contraband past juvenile detention facility guard lines. Illegal items include guns, knives, ammunition, explosive devices, alcohol, drugs, marijuana, cellphones and other contraband.

More actions are possible against personnel for criminal misconduct violations as the investigation continues.

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