INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A jailer in Independence County found himself on the other side of the bars after deputies accused him of smuggling contraband.
The Batesville Police Department is investigating the claims because the jailer is an employee of the Independence County Sheriff's Office.
According to the incident report, Chief Deputy Jeff Sims contacted the Batesville Police Department on Tuesday to report an employee who they suspected of smuggling tobacco to inmates.
Deputy Sims reported the allegations surfaced after jail administrators listened to recorded phone calls.
An inmate, identified as Kelby Epperson, asked several people to "buy him tobacco and deliver it to his grandma, who would then get it to the 'boy from Newport' and he would deliver it to him inside the county jail."
The only jailer on the jail's staff from Newport is 22-year-old James Tyler Stump, the reported stated.
During a separate interview with an inmate, investigators say the inmate identified Stump as a "dirty jailer."
Investigator Bobby Woods of the Batesville Police Department attempted to make contact with Stump via text message to arrange a transaction with Stump to smuggle in contraband.
During the exchange, Stump responded to the text message with "Who is this?"
Stump never replied to a series of text messages, according to the report.
Investigators interviewed Stump around 10:30 Tuesday night.
Stump admitted to bringing Epperson tobacco several times. He said he would place the tobacco in a glove and give it to Epperson who would deliver it to other inmates.
Stump said he was paid for bringing the tobacco into the jail after one of Epperson's family members would buy it.
According to the report, Stump also admitted that he was paid $40 to smuggle a phone into the jail. He said he never brought the phone inside the jail because it would be "crossing the line and that it would be too hard for the inmates to hide."
Investigators searched Stump's car and found the phone and tobacco.
He's charged with furnishing prohibited articles.
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