Another Tennessee correctional officer is under arrest, charged with bringing a large number of forbidden cell phones into prisons, and another woman says she's been harassed over the phone by a prisoner.
Authorities say Cpl. Lonnie Rodgers, a correctional officer at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, is accused of smuggling 40 cell phones, along with phone chargers, drugs and tobacco.
Rodgers is the latest state employee charged with sneaking in phones. Previous stories by the Channel 4 I-Team uncovered more than 100 Tennessee inmates were using contraband phones to document their parties and drug use on social media.
And those photographs aren't the only indication it's an ongoing problem. One Tennessee inmate named Justin posted a profile on a dating website, the Channel 4 I-Team has found. His profile picture for the site was clearly taken inside his cell from a cell phone.
Ladies, he's single, but not available yet.
Last week, the Channel 4 I-Team reported that a Middle Tennessee family had received threatening and sexually harassing texts from prison inmates who've obtained cell phones while behind bars.
Now, another woman has come forward, saying she, too, is being harassed by cell phone. This time, it's by the man who allegedly knocked out her front teeth.
Norma Pendleton is divorcing her husband and got an order of protection after he was indicted and charged with busting in her door and hitting her so hard that her front teeth were knocked loose.
The assault charge sent him to back to Riverbend Prison, where he was serving time for murder.
So, imagine her surprise when an unknown cell phone number showed up on her phone and she says her husband was on the other line, saying, "How much is it going to take to drop these charges?"
Pendleton wants the state to now reinstate the oversight committee for the Department of Correction, saying lawmakers and agency officials don't understand how innocent people are suffering from devices that are bringing so much fun and freedom to criminals.
"People are scared. And, really, they haven't been in this predicament. They haven't been hit, or beat or teeth loosened out of their mouth," Pendleton said.
Pendleton said she has repeatedly called Riverbend's warden and assistant warden to report the calls she says she's received but has heard nothing back.
The Channel 4 I-Team wanted to ask the state about the cases of harassment we've learned about, but they've denied our request for an interview.
In a statement released Thursday regarding the contraband found in the west Tennessee prison, Commissioner Derrick Schofield said:
"Whether it is one cell phone or 40, and whether it is a visitor or an employee, our agency will not tolerate the introduction of contraband into our prisons."
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