CHICAGO—A woman working for a contractor at Cook County Jail attempted to smuggle drug-soaked papers into the facility to be cut and sold to inmates, officials said Friday. She is the third person to be recently charged with a felony for allegedly trying to bring saturated paper into the facility.
Chicago resident Shaunda McClendon, 38, has been working for a contractor that services prison kiosks since November 2020, the sheriff’s office said.
On March 2, after receiving information that Mr. McClendon planned to deliver drug-laden papers to prison inmates, sheriff’s office investigators prepared to deliver personal purchases at the prison. I confronted her.
After initially denying possession of the contraband, she later admitted to possession of the contraband and removed 19 plastic-wrapped injection strips hidden from her waistline, according to the sheriff’s office.
Authorities estimated that these papers, had they been taken to prison in pieces, could have sold for $125,000.
The papers were sent to a laboratory for testing and recently tested positive for synthetic cannabinoids, prosecutor Sarah Dale Schmidt said at McClendon’s bail hearing. She said McLendon was on a secretly taped call regarding the smuggling operation.
Dale-Schmidt did not say who McLendon spoke to during the recorded call. A sheriff’s office spokeswoman said an investigation was ongoing.
Her attorney said she worked as a cook for 20 years at a food service company.
Judge Barbara Dawkins set bail at $30,000, meaning McClendon would have to post $3,000 bail to get out of prison.
Mr. Dale-Schmidt also regularly asked Mr. McClendon to order him not to contact the complainant’s location. In this case, McClendon is confined to prison.
“Can’t you get in touch with the prison?” Dawkins asked. “That’s interesting.”
Earlier this week, an inmate in custody on murder charges and his girlfriend were charged with conspiring to bring drug-laden papers to prison.
Dwayne Johnson has been in the Cook County Jail since December 18, 2020. suspicion He was the getaway driver for the group that shot and killed former Chicago firefighter Dwayne Williams in a carjacking attempt.
With the help of his girlfriend Cassandra Claudio, 23, he tried to bribe a prison officer to help smuggle drug-laden papers into the prison, officials said. .
Assistant State Attorney Rob Schwartz said Johnson approached a corrections officer in the prison’s highest security wing and offered to receive $1,500 in compensation for bringing the synthetic cannabinoid-laced documents from Claudio to prison. .
Instead, the prison officer went to his superiors and launched an investigation. Police arrested Claudio last Thursday night after delivering documents to an undercover agent at the North Riverside Park Mall, officials said.
Like prison operators across the country, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is trying to cut off the supply of drug-laden paper sold among inmates.
Last month, the sheriff’s office implemented new regulations after two private attorneys were arrested for bringing contaminated documents into the facility to meet with clients. Under the new rules, attorneys who want to bring documents to client meetings must make an appointment to view the documents. Prison and county officials are also prohibited from bringing paper into prison unless it is related to work or unions.
An investigation continues into a private attorney who allegedly brought contaminated documents into the facility.
Sources familiar with the operation of Cook County Jail believe drug smuggling is to blame for the increase in custodial deaths.
Coroner’s records show that 12 people have died in prison so far this year. Two died of natural causes and one was murdered. The cause and cause of death in the other nine cases are not yet known.
By comparison, there were seven in-prison deaths last year overall, two of them from drug overdose. Coroner’s records show that two out of 10 prison deaths in 2021 will be due to drug use.