UPDATED 5.24.2012 by Julie Montanaro
A former corrections officer is about to find out what it's like on the inside of a prison cell.
Court records show Eric James was sentenced this week to 18 months behind bars for possession of cocaine with the intent to sell it.
James was arrested in June 2011 when he tried to buy cocaine from undercover drug agents in the parking lot of a Tallahassee Wal Mart.
James was fired from his job at Liberty C-I.
The judge, also, stripped him of his correctional officer certification as part of his punishment.
UPDATED 6.24.2011 6:30pm by Julie Montanaro
A corrections officer is now behind bars himself. He's accused of trying to traffic cocaine in the prison where he worked.
And we say the prison where he "worked" because Eric James is about to be fired.
The deal went down at 2 o'clock Thursday afternoon in the always busy parking lot of the Wal Mart on West Tennessee Street.
Arrest papers say 34 year old Eric James showed up here along the fence line in a t-shirt, shorts and a ball cap and tried to buy enough cocaine to sell it at the prison where he worked.
"We actually only ended up taking 56 grams out there which is two ounces," said SGT Ed Cook with the LCSO Narcotics Unit. "Earlier in the process it was discussed up to a kilo of cocaine and then yesterday during the transaction he again brought up larger amounts half a pound to half a kilo."
Of course the coke dealer was really an undercover deputy.
James is now under arrest for bribery and trafficking cocaine. Florida law keeps his mug shot out of the public eye.
The Department of Corrections says James worked at Liberty County CI and it was an inmate there who tipped off the Inspector General to his cocaine business.
"We know this began a couple of months ago. So this was a quick investigation. Once it was notified, we made contact with him and we don't have any information that he was involved in other deals within the institution," said David Folsom, Deputy Inspector General with Florida's Department of Corrections.
Folsom says he does not know exactly how long James was selling drugs at the prison, but the Department of Corrections has been investigating him since March.
James is currently in the Leon County Jail with bond set at $10,000.
A DOC spokeswoman says the agency is in the process of firing James. His termination letter could be hand delivered by day's end.
Tallahassee, Florida - June 24, 2011 - DOC Press Release
A Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) employee was arrested on drug trafficking charges today in Tallahassee as a result of a joint investigation between the DOC’s Inspector General’s Office and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.
Correctional Officer Eric James, 34, was arrested by deputies from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in a parking lot on West Tennessee Street this afternoon, when he attempted to purchase 56 grams of cocaine, with an estimated value of $5,600.00 from undercover officers. He expected to purchase a much larger amount. James has been charged with trafficking narcotics, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute or sell, and official misconduct.
The investigation was launched when IG Senior Inspector Julie Mader was tipped off by an anonymous source. She worked closely with LCSO Sgt. Brice Google throughout the investigation.
“I’d like to commend Sr. Inspector Mader and Sgt. Google for an outstanding job. There are a lot of men and women doing exceptional work at DOC, and this incident should not detract from the professionalism of those individuals,” said DOC’s Inspector General Terrance Edmonson. “This type of behavior endangers our employees and the citizens of Florida, and it will not be tolerated.”
James had worked for the Department since 2006, most recently at Liberty Correctional Institution. He is currently being held at the Leon County Jail. DOC is pursuing his dismissal.