By Jennifer Lenain, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
A week-long investigation by the Narcotics Division of the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Office into a contraband smuggling operation ended with the arrest of a jailer and eight other suspects.
The investigation began when investigators were alerted to the possibility of contraband being smuggled into the jail by listening to recorded telephone calls made from within the jail, said Donnie Saucier, chief investigator.
“Investigators listening to jail phone calls intercepted plans of individuals wanting to smuggle contraband,” Saucier said.
On Saturday, investigators learned that Charlie W. Strahan, 69, of 165 First St., a correctional officer in the jail, was planning on receiving a package containing contraband to smuggle to inmates.
“Through investigation, investigators learned that Strahan was set to meet a Briana Lee, 18, of 02 R Fore Lane, at a public location in Carriere,” Saucier said.
Surveillance was set up at the location and Lee was observed actually meeting another female at the scene.
Lakisha Brown, 35, of 4715 Terrington Ct., Sugarland, Texas, was observed sitting in a vehicle with Lee, and the two appeared to be waiting on someone, said Saucier.
“At approximately 6 p.m. a vehicle pulled up, driven by Lenard Odom, 26.”
At that time, it appeared that a transfer of packages was about to take place. “Investigators then moved in before a transfer could occur and secured the three subjects,” Saucier said.
Three baby powder containers were found that had been emptied out and filled with a combination of “tobacco, marijuana, ecstasy pills, Lortab pills, Adderall pills and a homemade tattoo machine,” Saucier said. “They additionally found two soap boxes which contained cell phones.”
“Initially, the women were set to meet up with Strahan, and while waiting to meet him the plan changed,” Saucier said. Through further investigation, it was learned that Strahan had a change of plans and wanted Lee to drive to the jail and place the contraband in the back of his pickup truck.
It is believed that Lee called Odom to meet her at the location and drive her to the jail to make the drop off, said Saucier.
“A plan formulated to go ahead and make the drop in his pickup,” Saucier said.
Investigators maintained a constant surveillance on Strahan’s pickup truck, Saucier said.
“At approximately 11 p.m., Strahan exited the jail, where he was working at the time, and retrieved the package containing contraband out of the back of his truck,” Saucier said.
Strahan walked back to the jail, where investigators left their surveillance posts and placed him under arrest.
Once Strahan was arrested, investigators were able to see the “big picture,” said Saucier.
Strahan was booked and is being held at the Lamar County Correctional Facility for safety reasons, said Saucier.
After Strahan was arrested, investigators proceeded to 100 Jackson St. in Carriere, to arrest Jessie Monroe Millis, 42, for his role in the conspiracy.
“At the residence, investigators made contact with Millis and Ronald Palmisano, 56,” Saucier said. “Millis was arrested and consent to search that residence was conducted.”
The search resulted in investigators finding marijuana, methadone, clonazepam and Valium in Millis’ room, said Saucier. They also found, “containers of high-grade marijuana packaged for resale along with $1,300 cash and two firearms in Palmisano’s room.”
Sheriff David Allison said he thanks the investigators and jail staff of the Sheriff’s Office for their work on this investigation over the past week.
“This was a very dangerous situation,” Allison said. “Weapons could have been brought in or someone could have been hurt or killed. Tools could have been supplied to where someone could have escaped.
“We will not tolerate this type of behavior from our employees,” Allison said. “Mr. Strahan was booked Saturday night and he will appear before a judge today (Monday) to have a bond set.”
Conspiracy and charges summed up
The big picture, according to Saucier was:
Three inmates were involved in the conspiracy: Jessie Allan Millis, 22, of 59 Green Meadow Place; Shane Anderson, 27, of 43 Easy Street; and Yusuf Curry, 34, of 215 Darby Trails, Sugarland, Texas.
Briana Lee is the reported girlfriend of Jessie Allan Millis.
Lakisha Brown reportedly drove from the Houston area in an attempt to make the transfer happen and is the known girlfriend of Curry.
Curry and Millis were recorded on jail phone lines making the arrangements with Lee and Brown.
During the arrangements, Millis gave Lee contact information for Strahan, including his home telephone number.
At that point, Lee and Strahan began to communicate, making arrangements.
Investigators recovered evidence from Strahan’s vehicle that indicated he was going to be paid $50 to do this.
Through investigation, it was determined that Odom supplied the homemade tattoo machine.
Jessie Monroe Millis, inmate Jessie Allan Millis’ uncle, supplied the marijuana that was to be smuggled in.
Resulting charges issued, Saucier said, were:
Charlie W. Strahan was charged with: 7 counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility marijuana, MDMA (ecstasy), Lortab, Adderall, two cell phones, tattoo machine; possession with intent to distribute marijuana, MDMA (ecstasy), Lortab, Adderall.
Briana Lee was charged with: 3 counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility marijuana, Adderall, tattoo machine; 2 counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, Adderall.
Lakisha Brown was charged with: 5 counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility marijuana, MDMA (ecstasy), Lortab, two cell phones; 2 counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, MDMA (ecstasy); 1 count possession with intent to distribute Lortab.
Lenard Odom was charged with: 1 count of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility tattoo machine.
Jessie Allan Millis was charged with: 3 counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility marijuana, Adderall, tattoo machine.
Jessie Monroe Millis was charged with: 1 count of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility marijuana; 1 count felony possession of a controlled substance methadone; 3 counts of simple possession of clonazepam, diazepam, marijuana.
Ronald Palmisano was charged with: 1 count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana; 1 count felony possession of a controlled substance methadone; 1 count simple possession of diazepam.
Shane Anderson was charged with: 3 counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility marijuana, Adderall, tattoo machine.
Yusuf Curry was charged with: 5 counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility marijuana, MDMA (ecstasy), Lortab, two cell phones.