Correctional Officer Arrested in Drug Sting Sent to Prison

By: Florida Department of Corrections Release; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Florida Department of Corrections Release; Julie Montanaro Email

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.

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  • by Curious on May 27, 2012 at 08:20 PM
    What does the Leon County Sheriff have to do with this CO this officer worked at Liberty CI some people read the story and still cant get it right simple minded people.
    • reply
      by MA on May 28, 2012 at 02:06 AM in reply to Curious
      I think someone posted an idiotic comment, and that is what they are reading, not the story itself. The story clearly states that he worked for LIBERTY CI.
  • by Outside Observer Location: Leon on May 27, 2012 at 07:09 AM
    The word on the street which is how they caught this employee is that the department is rampant with this type of behavior. Where is IA in all of this? Does the Sheriff see watching his own employees as part of his job too?
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on May 27, 2012 at 06:54 AM
    I would like to see this officer James' Internal Affairs history, and if there were any complaints within the Sheriff's Office. the Sheriff's office needs to be held accountable for things like this. It is obvious that while the sheriff runs around publicly campaigning by arresting 50 drug dealers... He is allowing his staff to do the exact same thing.
  • by Terry Location: Tallahassee on May 26, 2012 at 04:19 PM
    With the academy graduating officers every few months. Can we please start to hire corrections officers that are qualified, and not as a favor to an old friend. The Sheriff's Office needs to be held accountable for who it decides to hire at our cost!
  • by Knight Location: Leon on May 26, 2012 at 02:51 PM
    We need an outside agency to participate in Internal Affairs for the Leon County Corrections and the Sheriff's Office. You can't police yourself. Things like this happen in our Sheriff's Office far far too often. Workers have no recourse. The current leadership has made certain of that.
  • by Anonymous Location: Leon on May 26, 2012 at 02:38 PM
    Where is the oversight for these corrections officers within the Leon County Sheriff's Office? What are we paying for. Do we really need a Sheriff, if he is not going to supervise, train, or do anything? What a waste!
  • by D. Wilkerson Location: Leon on May 26, 2012 at 02:35 PM
    This is another case in which the Sheriff's Office like so many others where Leon County has continued to let the Fox watch the Hen house. Leon County needs a change. This is so unfair to our youth and a community that deserves better. sheriff's Office needs to clean house.
  • by Insider on May 26, 2012 at 02:32 PM
    As long as the King of Sheriff's is allowed to continue his reign. This will continue. this officer wasn't affraid because he knew that he wouldn't get caught, and if he did, nothing would be done. Thats the problem with current leadership. I am shocked that he didn't get a promotion.
  • by Baker Location: Tallahassee on May 26, 2012 at 02:29 PM
    This is typical of what goes on under the current leadership of the Sheriff's Office. This is not a new problem. This has been going on for years, and those in the department know this to be true. Correction officer are not able to speak out because IA is a joke. We need a Sheriff who will not play favorites and allow this to continue!
  • by Lobohart on May 26, 2012 at 06:23 AM
    Mr. James will most likely be sent to an out of state prison for his protection or he will be kept in admin confinement. DOC doesn't want ex-officers on the pound with inmates he may have had problems with. Yep, I have worked in the prison system and most of the officers are the greatest folks you will meet.
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