Jailer who supplied pot to inmates pleads guilty

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hernandez sentenced to 5 years of probation for crime

A former Barry County jailer has pleaded guilty to delivering an illegal substance to inmates being held in the jail in August 2015.

Judge Jack Goodman sentenced Matthew Hernandez, 24, of Butterfield, to five years of supervised probation for pleading guilty to smuggling marijuana to a pair of inmates in the jail.

Hernandez in August 2015 allegedly admitted to law enforcement he picked up marijuana at the Cassville Walmart, packaged it in sealed latex and delivered the substance to the inmates. According to Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff, Hernandez, who had been working at the jail for about a month and a half, was fired from his position on the same day.

Epperly said the conspiracy was unravelled when Missouri State Highway Patrolman Travis Hilburn arrested Logan Moore, 18, of Rocky Comfort, for leaving the scene of an accident. Hilburn obtained a warrant to search Moore's cell phone, which yielded text messages between Moore and Hernandez about drug sales and distribution.

According to a probable cause statement filed by Det. Doug Henry, with the Barry County Sheriff's Office, Hernandez was interviewed at the jail and allegedly confessed to picking up the marijuana from Moore and delivering it to Norman Baez, 25, of Monett, and Mathew Miller, 22 of Eagle Rock.

Hernandez said he was approached by Baez and Miller, who asked him to make the transaction with Moore at the Cassville Walmart, where he would receive payment. Hernandez said he had brought marijuana into the jail two times in the past four weeks.

Epperly said deputies, along with the help of former Exeter Police Chief Morgan Struble and his drug dog, Bailey, searched the jail, and Bailey located a pipe with marijuana residue tucked under a stairwell in one of the pods.

Epperly said it was the first time he has ever fired an employee for bringing contraband into the jail, and he hopes it never happens again.

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