Prison teacher confesses to smuggling cellphones in underwear - CBS46 News

Prison teacher confesses to smuggling cellphones in underwear

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Photo source: WGCL Photo source: WGCL
Photo source: WGCL Photo source: WGCL

An elderly woman is facing criminal charges after being caught smuggling cell phones into a prison where she was a teacher but it's where officers found the phones that will shock you.

It was March of 2015 when guards showed up for work at Calhoun State Prison near Albany. Among them, 72 year-old Annie Mae Flood, who was a teacher at the institution, helping inmates learn to read and write.

Suddenly, after a security alert, guards pulled Flood out of her class and found six cell phones, hidden in her underwear.

Flood's lawyers tells CBS46 that this was her first offense and she's very remorseful. Calhoun County Sheriff Josh Hilton was amazed.

"It doesn't make sense," said Hilton. "A teacher supposed to be helping people but not by bringing in cell phones. Just awful."

Sheriff Hilton says greed was her motive. There's no denying that jobs and money are scarce in rural Georgia. The prison offers wages right in the middle of what most people make in the county. However, the sheriff doesn't think more money will make guards, teachers or workers any more honest.

"Everybody needs more money," says Hilton. "But I don't think that makes an honest person. If you're honest, you're honest. If you're crooked, you're crooked."

CBS46 tried desperately to find Ms. Flood. We started by knocking on her door at her home in Albany. Why try her house? Because she's not in jail.

Her sentence for smuggling in cell phones? Probation and community service. No jail time. 

CBS46 asked District Attorney Joe Mulholland why Flood received such a light sentence.

"We can't even keep murderers, rapists and armed robbers locked up," said Mulholland. "Because she didn't have a record, the judge though the sentence was appropriate."

But the stack of indictments from FBI witnesses accusing guards and prisoners of running crime rings from cell phones are making prosecuting attorneys rethink.

"I probably just assumed like the general public that the prisoners were calling their girlfriends," continued Mulholland. "Now we're seeing these criminal enterprises.

Frustrated prison officials say they can't stop inmates from getting a hold of cell phones if the smugglers aren't punished. But local officials say that's hard to do when the prisons are already full of criminals convicted of far worse crimes.

"You're talking about stone cold killers and child molesters," says Mulholland.

The total number of prisoners, guards and family members indicted in this federal and state joint operation is now topping 100 people, all linked by cell phones.

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