Three correctional officers have been arrested for allegedly taking money from families and girlfriends of Calhoun Correctional Institution inmates in exchange for protection, special treatment and contraband.
Colonel Sammy John McAlpin, 43, of Sneads, Officer Stephen Pickron, 34, and Officer Nicholas Hansford, 24, both of Blountstown, have all been charged with unlawful compensation for official behavior. McAlpin has also been charged with official misconduct.
According to the arrest affidavit, numerous cash transfers to the CaCI officers were made through Western Union from 2010 to 2012. McAlpin, who served as chief of security at CaCI, allegedly orchestrated the scheme.
The investigation began in Nov. 2010 after the husband of a former correctional officer discovered an estimated 40 letters at his home written to his wife by a CaCI inmate. Not only did the letters suggest a staff-offender relationship, but also referenced illegal activity going on at the institution. One of the letters referred to the inmate paying Col. "Big Daddy" McAlpin $500 for protection and the use of a cell phone.
The man turned copies of the letters over to a sergeant at CaCI, but kept the originals. That sergeant then gave the letters to Col. McAlpin. On Nov. 20, 2010, Col. McAlpin turned the letters over to Law Enforcement Inspector Mike Harrison of the DOC Inspector General’s office. However, letters referencing McAlpin and other employees were missing.
During an interview with the woman’s husband in Jan. 2011, copies of all the letters were provided to Inv. Harrison.
Several thousand dollars were allegedly exchanged during the scheme.
A former inmate told authorities he met Pickron at the Bristol boat landing between May 24 and June 4, 2010, and gave him eight Western Union money orders totaling $2750, along with a $400 check, that were sent to him from families of inmates still at CaCI. Pickron reportedly admitted to meeting the former inmate at the landing and receiving cash which he said he turned over to Col. McAlpin.
Investigators say Pickron allegedly picked up $400 via Western Union on Nov. 12, 2010. The money was delivered to a Blountstown supermarket and reportedly sent by an inmate’s girlfriend. That inmate was heard on a recorded phone call with his girlfriend the following day indicating the payment was made in exchange for a job change.
Six days later, Pickron reportedly received $1500 via Western Union that was sent by an inmate’s sister. The inmate was heard on a recorded phone call telling his sister the money was to make things “better for him.”
Pickron was sent $300 via Western Union Dec. 9, 2010, from the same woman. The inmate later confessed to authorities the money was in exchange for alcoholic beverages and the provision of information from the internet.
Again, the sister to the inmate sent another $300 Dec. 17, 2010. During a phone call with his sister, the inmate was recorded saying, “There’s been some big changing around here. I can’t explain it, but everything is so perfect now.”
Another $400 was sent to Pickron Jan. 20, 2011, by the same woman.
Pickron was questioned Sept. 19, 2012, and told authorities he delivered the money he received each time to Col. McAlpin. Pickron acknowledged keeping a small portion of the money, but said most of it went to McAlpin.
Pickron told investigators McCalpin initially approached him and said, “You know, there is money to be made...You can make money off of these inmates like this.” Pickron said he received a job change that allowed him to be off every weekend and holiday.
Back in Oct. 2010, Hansford reportedly deposited three money orders totalling $300 into his personal checking account. Between Mar. 7 and June 7, 2012, Hansford allegedly received $1455 in money orders using the alias Stan Smith. The money was reportedly on behalf of inmates in exchange for contraband.
Hansford reportedly had another man pick up five money orders totalling $850 from Western Union between Oct. 28 and Nov. 10, 2010. The man said he turned them over to Hansford and they met a man fitting McAlpin’s description at a local convenience store, then gave the money to him. Hansford reportedly admitted to the exchange.
One inmate told authorities he gave Col. McAlpin $2400 and estimated McAlpin had received as much as $20,000 over the past year. He alleged McAlpin offered protection to inmates, as well as notification of scheduled, but not publicized, contraband interdiction operations, all in exchange for cash.
McAlpin was booked into the Calhoun County Jail Wednesday; Pickron and Hansford were taken into custody Thursday. All have been given a conditional release.
I am disappointed in Pickron. We all wondered why he had not been coming to armwrestle during that period. I guess McAlpin is the one that needs the most punishment. I am just going to say I do not agree with custodial release on gaurds or cops. Make them post bail. After all they were arrested and need their day in court too but what is to stop them from absconding? let me address the county and state governments. Your all corrupt > go back through a copy of Morals and Ethics. If your not using them you are an embarrassment to all life on this planet. Judges rewording laws and trying to justify an agenda that is contrary to being fair. Violators... Sheriffs> Gaurds> county planners> state prosecutors > Senators> ALL politicians everywhere. Your either doing the right thing or your not. There is no excuse.
You made a strong point about bail, morals and ethics. These three people put the lives of every other officer and employees in grave danger by this behavior. Warning inmates when there is going to be a shake down, providing contraband...if they want to act like inmates so bad, perhaps the state should let them be one for a few years. Sign Just plain mad