Charges filed against former prison employee in sex and smuggling case

By  | 

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Criminal charges have been filed against a former Green Bay Correctional Institution employee accused of smuggling drugs inside prison and having sex with an inmate.

Rachelle M. Ritchie, 36, has been charged with Misconduct in Office, Deliver Illegal Articles to Inmate, Possession of THC, and Conspiracy to Deliver THC.

Target 2 Investigates broke the story in February after learning the Brown County Sheriff's Office was investigating a report of sexual relations between inmates and staff.

The Sheriff's Office said two female employees of the Department of Corrections were "compromised"--being blackmailed after having consensual sex with inmates with gang ties.

Criminal charges were filed against Rachelle Ritchie on May 16. Action 2 News has obtained the criminal complaint. We are not naming the second female employee in this case because she has not been criminally charged.

Brown County Sheriff's Dept. Capt. Dave Poteat told Action 2 News that an employee overheard inmates talking about sex with staff and reported to the sheriff's office.

In January, Ritchie provided a statement to the Brown County Sheriff's Office. She said she had worked alone for years in the prison store and was surrounded by maximum security inmates.

At one point, she started a relationship with an inmate who worked in the store. Ritchie told investigators that it was "more lust than love."

The inmate provided her a number to "contact a guy on the outside" for marijuana. Ritchie said she brought marijuana to the prison twice and delivered it to this inmate both times, according to the complaint.

The criminal complaint says Ritchie admitted to bringing in hand sanitizer for making alcoholic drinks. The inmates used it to get drunk, according to Ritchie.

Ritchie admitted to smoking marijuana with the inmate who worked with her at the store on one occasion and and drinking alcohol with the inmate on one occasion, according to the complaint.

Ritchie said "bringing contraband into GBCI was super easy," according to the complaint. She said she could carry contraband in a coat pocket or lunch box and they were never checked.

State Representative David Steffen (R-Howard) says he isn't surprised. Steffen has proposed closing GBCI and building a new, modern prison at a cost of $230 million to $290 million.

"(GBCI) is still using 1960's technology of metal detectors only for visitors and employees. What they really need to be having is TSA-style body scanners to ensure that this type of contraband can be identified prior to entry to the facility."

Action 2 News received a statement from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections reading, "GBCI, along with all of the Department of Corrections' facilities, continually monitor their security procedures and modify them if necessary to improve the safety of both our staff and those in our care. The safety of the public, our staff, and those in our care continues to be our top priority."

In the court documents, Ritchie went on to describe a culture of alleged misconduct at the prison. "People are bringing in tobacco, officers are f----ing," Ritchie said.

In the documents, Ritchie did not describe any threats from inmates, but she said she felt "intimidated and trapped."

Steffen said not enough is being done by the state agencies in charge of the facility.

"DOC and the Department of Administration, which is in charge of every building, is not doing enough. In fact, that's the cornerstone of my proposal relating to closing the facility. That facility is the most dangerous prison in the State of Wisconsin," Steffen said.

Even with charges against Ritchie filed, state Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said the incident does not speak about the majority of people who work at GBCI, and he says a new prison isn't in the cards.

"This incident is unfortunate and a violation of the public trust. However, the actions of one or two employees does not change the fundamental debate about whether or not taxpayers should spend a half-billion dollars to build a new prison when renovating GBCI can be done at less than half the cost, especially when it is unlikely a new prison will be approved," Hansen wrote.

Ritchie resigned from GBCI in January. She has a court appearance scheduled for the end of the May.