Crime & Courts

Smuggling charge gets jail officer fired

A Lexington County Detention Center officer has been fired on accusations he helped a woman smuggle cigarettes and marijuana into the jail.

The woman and the officer were arrested Wednesday, the Lexington County Sheriff's Department said.

Tawanda Katherine Williams, 35, of Columbia was charged with furnishing contraband to a prisoner, furnishing drugs to a prisoner and distributing marijuana. She was at the detention center Thursday on $37,000 bail.

Officer Phillip Anthony Fields, 29, of Lexington is charged with two counts of furnishing contraband to a prisoner, two counts of furnishing drugs to a prisoner, two counts of misconduct in office by a public official and one count of possessing marijuana.

Fields was hired in July. He was released from custody Wednesday after posting $37,000 bail.

The department accuses Williams of bringing marijuana and cigarettes to the jail and putting them in Fields' personal vehicle. The department accuses Fields of getting the items from his car while on duty to bring to an inmate. The items were found on Fields in the jail, the department said.

In a separate case, a Batesburg-Leesville woman was also arrested Wednesday evening and charged with furnishing contraband to an inmate, in the form of three packs of cigarettes.

Melissa Marie Vera, 28, turned herself in after an arrest warrant was issued in the case alleging she left cigarettes in a cup in a trash can. The department said she put them there so inmate Rodney Dean Isbill, whom Vera had visited, could retrieve them.

A corrections officer witnessed Vera put the cigarettes in the trash can, the department said.

Isbill, 46, is in jail on a family court bench warrant for failing to pay court-ordered child support, the department said.

Furnishing contraband to a prisoner is a felony in South Carolina.

- Kelly Davis