ALLOUEZ, Wis. (WBAY) - Two women, former employees of Green Bay Correctional Institution, face possible felony charges after investigators say they helped smuggle drugs, hand sanitizer and food to inmates in exchange for sex.
Green Bay Correctional Institution cells (WBAY photo)
The Brown County Sheriff's Office began investigating last month after receiving a sexual assault complaint from a third employee. From there, the investigation just kept growing.
"Once you do something that violates the rules, well, now they've got you," Brown County Sheriff's Captain Dave Poteat said.
Poteat says it likely didn't take long before the women, both civilian employees of the Department of Corrections, were what he calls "compromised" -- essentially being blackmailed after having consensual sex with inmates.
"They were involved with inmates that have gang ties... be asked to do certain things," Poteat said.
Poteat says those inmates would somehow tell gang members outside the prison to give contraband to the employees who could sneak it in.
He says it started with small things like sandwiches or chips but soon escalated to smuggling in hand sanitizer -- which he says inmates would turn into some kind of alcohol drink -- and marijuana.
"They would bring them in or be packaged in balloons that were vacuum-sealed and wrapped up so they could be easily swallowed by the inmate when they were going back to their cells," Poteat said.
Poteat said the two women worked closely with inmates in the prison's canteen, making it easier to hide the illegal items.
Investigators say the inmates are technically the victims in this case but weren't very cooperative, so they're unsure how long this was happening or exactly how many people inside and outside the prison were involved.
He says it wasn't until another employee overheard inmates talking about sex with staff that the case was brought to sheriff's investigators.
In the past 24 hours, the sheriff's office referred charges against the two women. The case involving the two women is now in the hands of the Brown County District Attorney.
Late Friday afternoon, the Department of Corrections told Action 2 News one woman has resigned, the other was fired.
It says Corrections Secretary-designee Kevin Carr was briefed and is "deeply concerned about the allegations."
"The safety of our employees and the people we serve are our highest priority," Carr said in a statement to Action 2 News. "Anyone working for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections who is found to have violated our policies, procedures, or the law, must be held accountable."