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Garbage truck driver busted, suspected of supplying inmates

A Columbus garbage truck driver was arrested last week for possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

His potential customers? Muscogee County Prison inmates on work detail.

Acting on a tip, a Muscogee County Sheriff's Office deputy arrested Thaddeus Scott, 36, on June 13 as he reported to work at the Public Services fleet lot with two small packages of marijuana in his pants pocket.

Scott, a city employee for more than a year, was suspected of selling drugs to inmates by a supervisor, according to the sheriff's office report.

"We are continuing to investigate to determine how wide spread it is," said Sheriff's Maj. Joe McCrea.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley said he believes it's an isolated incident. "It's the first and only report of that nature that I have been made aware of," Hugley said.

Public Services Director Gary Stickles and Chief of Sanitation Les Moore acted properly by informing law enforcement when they were informed of Scott's possible actions, Hugley said. Moore contacted deputies on June 9 and advised them drugs were delivered on Fridays.

"Moore stated one of his drivers is selling marijuana to inmates," the report said.

Hugley said he and Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin knew of the allegations before Scott was arrested, Hugley said.

Sheriff's investigator Cedric Holton, U.S. Marshal Bob Green and Parole Officer Al Dean went to the fleet lot Friday morning. Scott was not there, so the officers waited. About 10 minutes later he arrived.

Scott was carrying a black bag as he walked across the lot.

"We approached him and identified ourselves, and I stated I had a complaint from the chief of sanitation, and I'm here to investigate (an) illegal drug sale," Holton wrote in his report.

They asked to search his bag, which Scott agreed to, according to the report.

"The bag showed no evidence of marijuana," according to the report. Holton began to close the pockets on the bag when Scott started to run. After a brief chase, he was caught by Green. During a search, two packets of marijuana with a street value of $80 were found in his front left pocket.

Scott, a waste equipment operator, began working for the city Jan. 29, 2007. He was making $13.13 an hour when he was arrested on Friday the 13th. "Thirteen" is also one of the many archaic slang terms for marijuana.

Scott has not showed up for his job since the arrest and was terminated by the city on Thursday, Hugley said.

"When he had returned to work, he would have been suspended," Hugley said. Because he did not report for three days or contact his supervisor, he was fired.

Between 350 and 400 Muscogee County Prison inmates work in city jobs each day, Warden Bill Adamson said. About 150 of those are assigned sanitation, where many of them work on garbage trucks.

Muscogee County Prison Warden Bill Adamson said he was aware of Scott's arrest and the allegations of drug sales to inmates. All inmates who leave the Schatulga Road prison are strip-searched when they return from city work assignments.

But Adamson said drugs still get back into the prison.

"I can get real graphic and tell you how they bring them in," Adamson said. "We strip search to the level the law allows. But — and there is a but — a medical doctor is required for us to search the rectum and I do not have a medical doctor at the back gate."

Adamson suspects if Scott was selling drugs to inmates, the money was coming from family or friends.

"This is purely a guesstimate, but if I am an inmate and I want something from somebody who works for the city and he was willing to give it to me if I pay him, I would call my brother in, say, Jacksonville, and supply an address and ask my brother to send cash, money order or a check," Adamson said. "When he gets the money, I get what I want."

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