Five accused of plot to sneak items into jail

Thursday, February 25, 2010

County investigators have charged five people with a scheme to smuggle contraband into the Bedford County jail by allegedly hiding items in an area where prisoners await court appearances.

Arrested were:

* Jimmy Patterson, charged with criminal conspiracy.

* John M. Cronin, III, introduction of contraband, and possession of schedule VI.

* Howard L. Yerkey, criminal conspiracy.

* Annette J. Ransom, criminal conspiracy.

* Amber Patterson, two counts of introduction of contraband, and possession of schedule VI.

A report by Bedford County Sheriff's Department Detective Todd Hammond stated that information was received in early February about contraband being brought into Bedford County Courthouse and dropped off for inmates to bring to the jail.

The information detectives received indicated that Amber Patterson was bringing small packages containing tobacco and marijuana to the courthouse.

As a result of the information, Hammond and Det. Sgt. Scott Jones went to the courthouse on Feb. 4 and saw Mrs. Patterson there, but her husband, James Patterson, who is currently being held at the jail, had no court appearance on that particular date.

Hammond followed Mrs. Patterson into the courthouse and watched her sit on a bench outside of the courtroom. Jones and Det. Sgt. David Sakich then asked to speak to Patterson and Annette Ransom, who had accompanied her.

Patterson waived her Miranda rights and allegedly told Sakich that she had met with a woman named Ashley the day before at a church in Deason and received a package to drop off at the courthouse that day.

Ms. Patterson allegedly said that she knew the package had a lighter and tobacco, "but was unaware of anything else contained inside the package that was wrapped in black electrical tape."

Ransom allegedly claimed she had no knowledge of anything that was going on and that she had given Mrs. Patterson a ride to court to see her husband. But Hammond then spoke to Mrs. Patterson, who allegedly said that Ransom knew she was leaving a small package for her husband.

Following the questioning, the two women were placed on administrative hold and an undercover officer posed as an arrestee.

While in custody, the undercover officer stated he watched Cronin allegedly retrieve the package that was left by Mrs. Patterson on top of a cabinet.

"Another inmate, Blake O'Pry, retrieved another package from on top of the same cabinet while the undercover was out of the holding room, as told by inmate Yerkey," Hammond's report says.

The undercover officer was then taken to the jail with the other inmates and separated. Jones and Chief Deputy David Williams then watched cameras while the inmates were brought in and placed in a holding cell.

Cronin was observed allegedly hiding what he had in his possession under a mattress in his cell. All the inmates were then brought to the sheriff's department and interviewed separately and statements were obtained from each of them.

Jimmy Patterson was charged with criminal conspiracy because he allegedly spoke with his wife on the phone -- a call that was monitored -- and implied he wanted to make sure she was all right after allegedly putting the items in the location.

Cronin was charged allegedly for possessing the lighter, tobacco and marijuana and bringing the items into the jail.

Yerkey was charged because he allegedly knew what was in the package and was aware of the items being brought back to the jail, as well as helping to conceal them by being a lookout for Cronin.

Ransom was charged because she knew Mrs. Patterson was allegedly placing the items in the inmate area in the courthouse.