Ex-Riverside Jail officer gets 1 year in prison for smuggling drugs, cigarettes, phones to inmates – Richmond Times-Dispatch

A former Riverside Regional Jail officer was sentenced for smuggling drugs, cigarettes and cellphones into the facility for inmates.
A corrections officer for Riverside Regional Jail who began smuggling drugs, cigarettes and cellphones into the facility just a month after she was hired was sentenced Thursday to serve one year in prison and pay a $4,440 fine — a sum that equates to the amount she obtained in cash and services for the contraband she provided to inmates.
In sentencing Quentina Latrice McKinnon, 22, to nine years in prison with eight suspended, Prince George Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett said that McKinnon violated the trust of the jail and prisoners inside who were trying to get help for their drug addictions.
Sharrett also noted that McKinnon smuggled contraband into the jail for profit at least 11 times, and had developed a plan to conceal the items she was bringing in. McKinnon admitted to concealing contraband in her socks, her waistband or hair to get them inside undetected, prosecutors said.
McKinnon is now a prisoner at the jail where she once worked.
The smuggling operation began about a month after she was hired on May 4, 2020, and occurred during a period when the 1,300-inmate jail was struggling to fill dozens of vacancies while on state probation for staff violations that state officials said directly or indirectly caused the deaths of two inmates in 2007.
After jail officials and Prince George County police launched an investigation into how inmates were receiving banned items, authorities determined that McKinnon conspired to deliver contraband to at least three inmates between June 1 and Aug. 11, prosecutors said.
Once she was identified as being the source of the contraband, McKinnon immediately cooperated with jail investigators and admitted to bringing in the items such as cellphones, tobacco and suboxone strips on numerous occasions.
Suboxone strips are placed under the tongue to receive the narcotic effect of the drug mixture they contain — typically buprenorphine and naloxone. The man-made drugs can be addictive and, in some cases, result in overdoses.
McKinnon used the money she obtained for everyday expenses, although one inmate paid her through a cellphone app that McKinnon used to pay for various items, such as salon services, said Prince George Commonwealth’s Attorney Susan Fierro.
McKinnon admitted to making five deliveries to one unnamed inmate, bringing in tobacco twice, suboxone strips twice and a small cellphone. She was paid for those items using the mobile app.
McKinnon also admitted to making five deliveries to a second inmate, bringing in a cellphone, tobacco and suboxone strips. She was paid $800 in cash for each delivery. She also admitted making one delivery to a third inmate — providing suboxone strips in return for $400 in cash.
She confessed to conspiring with additional inmates, prosecutors said.
Her statements were corroborated with evidence obtained during the investigation that related to the contraband found during jail searches, as well as through jail phone and video calls. Money was McKinnon’s primary motivation, but once she started she felt coerced to continue since she could be exposed by the inmates, prosecutors said.
When she was arrested Aug. 11, she was charged with 12 felony counts — six charges of conspiring to deliver contraband to prisoners and six charges of making the deliveries. As a result of her cooperation, authorities agreed to withdraw all but three of those charges, and she pleaded guilty on April 29.
She was to be sentenced in July but the date was postponed to allow her to give birth to a daughter, who is now 2 months old. She apologized Thursday in court, adding that she just wants to be a good mother to her child.
McKinnon’s attorney, Alex Taylor, noted that his client is a U.S. Navy veteran, is “very young” and has some mental health challenges — factors that Taylor believes the judge took into consideration in sentencing her to serve only one year behind bars. However, the judge denied her request to serve her sentence under home incarceration.
“She did testify that she had some issues with depression while in the Navy,” Taylor said. “She’s been receiving counseling for mental health issues.”
Due to her mental health challenges, Taylor told the court that McKinnon was susceptible to the “nefarious intentions” of some of the inmates with whom she had contact with as a corrections officer.
“This is a case where there are no winners,” the attorney said. “It’s not one of those situations where we walk into court expecting that there will be no consequences. But I’m very happy that the sentence wasn’t more than it was.”
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A former Riverside Regional Jail officer was sentenced for smuggling drugs, cigarettes and cellphones into the facility for inmates.
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