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Eight former South Carolina prison employees, including six correctional officers, have pleaded guilty to federal offenses as part of an investigation into contraband in prisons around the state. 

The former employees were caught accepting bribes to smuggle items including tobacco, cellphones and drugs into seven different prisons, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

“When a correctional officer brings contraband into an institution, it breaks a public trust and makes the institution and our state unsafe for everyone,” Bryan Stirling, state Department of Corrections director, said in a statement. “They deserve to spend time behind bars.”

The former employees and details of their pleas are as follows, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

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  • Sept. 19, Jamal Early, a former officer at Ridgeland Correctional Institution, pleaded guilty to use of an interstate facility to facilitate bribery after he “accepted bribes to smuggle tobacco and A-PVP (a synthetic narcotic) into prison.”
  • Sept. 18, Frank Pridgeon pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud. The former Kershaw Correctional Institution officer took bribes to smuggle cocaine, marijuana, tobacco and cellphones into the prison.
  • Sept. 13, Miguel Williams pleaded guilty to use of an interstate facility to facilitate bribery. The former Perry Correctional Institution officer took bribes to smuggle tobacco and liquor.
  • Sept. 13, Catherine Prosser pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. The former McCormick Correctional Institution officer took bribes to smuggle marijuana.
  • Sept. 13, Holly Mitchem pleaded guilty to use of an interstate facility to facilitate bribery. The former food service worker at Tyger River Correctional Institution took bribes to smuggle tobacco and K2, a synthetic cannabinoid more commonly known as “spice” into prison. 
  • Sept. 13, Robert Hill pleaded guilty to use of an interstate facility to facilitate bribery. Hill, a horticulture specialist at Tyger River Correctional Institution, accepted bribes to smuggle marijuana, K2, tobacco and cellphones into prison.
  • Sept. 10, Ebonynisha Casby pleaded guilty to use of an interstate facility to facilitate bribery. The former officer at Lieber Correctional Institution took bribes to smuggle a watch and jewelry into prison.
  • Aug. 6, Sharon Johnson Breeland pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The former officer at Broad River Correctional Institution took bribes to smuggle meth into prison.

Early, Williams, Prosser, Mitchem, Hill and Casby each face maximum sentences of five years in federal prison. Breeland and Pridgeon each face 20-year maximum sentences. 

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