A garbage truck driver for the city of Columbus was charged Thursday after he allowed a Muscogee County Prison inmate to meet a woman at the dead end of Hunter Road while on a work detail, police said.
The driver, Edward Leroy Waldrop, and the woman, Ashley Brummett of Macon, Ga., each face a felony count of aiding in the escape of a prisoner, Michael Crook. Waldrop, 40, was released on bond and waived his Recorder's Court hearing Friday while Brummett, 29, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Her bond was set at $5,000 and the charge was bound over to Muscogee Superior Court.
Crook, serving a sentence for trafficking in cocaine, faces an additional escape charge in Municipal Court.
Pamela Muncy, who lives on Hunter Road, said she called her brother, a city employee, after her boyfriend saw a prisoner leave a parked garbage truck about 11:30 a.m. and enter a black GMC Yukon nearby.
"I called my brother, Tony Perry, and asked if a prisoner is allowed to get in a truck," Muncy said after the hearing. "He said, 'Hell no. Where are they at?'"
After a call from her brother, Muncy said, it took city officials about five minutes to get a supervisor at the scene. Police officer J.L. Gragg told the court that Brummett had known Crook about four years and she missed him.
She drove to Columbus to meet the prisoner.
Inside the vehicle, police found Crook's shirt and a .38-caliber pistol.
During the hearing, Brummett wouldn't state how she knew where to meet Crook.
Police said there were calls to her phone from Waldrop's cell phone.
"I made a mistake," Brummett told Judge Michael Cielinski. "I'm sorry."
An investigation indicates the meeting was preplanned, said Lt. S.J. Thomas, a supervisor at the prison.
"He called her 10 times prior to the meeting," Thomas said of the driver.
Thomas said officials don't know what happened inside the SUV before the prisoner walked out with no shirt.
"We suspect she was trying to hide him and get out of there," he said. "His shirt was hid under the front seat of the car."
Warden Dwight Hamrick said Crook was sent to Muscogee County Prison after a Bibb County conviction in 2010. His release date was set for 2020.City officials said Waldrop has been with the city since June 2011. He earns about $29,380 a year as a waste equipment operator. His current status with the city wasn't available. Thomas said Crook was one of more than 400 inmates assigned to work details in the city and that rules to protect the public were followed.
"The rules we got in place worked very well and we were able to close in on this case," Thomas said. "They violated the rules. The rules we have worked fine. We were able to get them. He was not able to escape."
Signs are posted on the truck to prohibit talking with inmates.
"If people would only follow that sign, there wouldn't be a problem," Thomas said.