ALBANY, N.Y. -- Merlin Thomas, 48, was an employee in Albany County Correctional Facility for 18 years. On Saturday, that career ended.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says Thomas smuggled items for inmates.
“We do have a number of surveillance photos indicating that people on the bottom row met the sergeant outside and handed off cash and packages in our parking lot,” said Apple.
Those packages allegedly contained marijuana, tobacco and cellphones.
During a lockdown Saturday, those items were found in the jail along with homemade knives. The people who brought the cash and contraband are connected to the inmates who had the items.
But every person involved in this three-month investigation is connected to Thomas.
“You really look for honesty and trust with your employees other than strip-searching your employees prior to coming to work, you just pray to god that you have good stand up employees,” said Apple. “People think, ‘well the phone, how is that dangerous?’ Well they can put hits on people, they can barter with people. Everything that gets smuggled in is dangerous.”
Thomas and the other six civilians each face ten charges, including conspiracy and criminal possession of marijuana.
Apple says stricter rules will be put in place to stop something like this from happening again. The "no cell phone" policy in place will continue and people will be searched more thoroughly before entering the facility.
“Anybody that follows the sheriff’s office knows we work really hard to try and build in roads into community and gain public trust and, again, it only takes one idiot like this to screw it up and set us back years,” said Apple.