Crime & Courts

Prison Scandal: Two South Carolina Corrections Officials Arrested

Prison leader: “We’re not going to put up with this conduct.”

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The inspector general of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) announced the arrest of two employees at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C., according to an agency news release.

Brian Darold Keely, 58, of Sumter, S.C., was charged with providing contraband to prisoners and with criminal conspiracy.

“The charges against Keely, who was a food service supervisor at the prison, involve a large quantity of cellphones and narcotics found in his cafeteria office,” the release noted. “During Tuesday’s search, officers also found evidence of contraband deals with inmates on his cellphone.”

Specifically, a probable cause affidavit accompanying the warrant for Keely’s arrest referenced “multiple telephone calls and text messages” related to such deals – including texts between July 2 and August 6 of this year.

Keely was terminated by SCDC.

In addition to Keely, criminal charges were filed against correctional officer Brittany Nicole Welch, 33, of Rembert, S.C. for allegedly “tipping inmates off to contraband searches, keeping weapons for inmates and allowing inmates to trade and share weapons.”

Wait … holding weapons for inmates?

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Regular members of our audience will recall Lee was the site of the deadliest prison riot in the United States in more than a quarter century on Sunday, April 15, 2018. That riot – which left seven dead and many more injured – has spawned a separate and ongoing criminal investigation.

Welch – who had been at the agency for six years – was charged with misconduct in office and obstruction of justice. She was also terminated from her position with SCDC.

According to the agency, the arrests of Keely and Welch were “part of a targeted investigation into employees” at the prison.

“Multiple other employees were suspended without pay,” the release noted, referring to the investigation as “continuing.”

“If you come to work at SCDC and have bad intent to bring in contraband to make money on the side, we’re not going to put up with this conduct,” SCDC director Bryan Stirling said in a statement. “This is not just at Lee but across the state at all of our twenty-one prisons.”

As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Keely and Welch are considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as they may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges filed against them.

The corrections release specifically noted that “after an arrest, the burden of proof is on the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” In this case, that burden would fall to the office of S.C. third circuit solicitor Ernest A. Finney III.

Keely received an $8,000 surety bond on the charges he is facing, while Welch received a $10,000 surety bond. Both are scheduled to appear in court on October 4, 2023 for a preliminary hearing related to their cases.

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RELEASE/ INDICTMENTS …

(Via: SCDC)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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2 comments

Goody3 Top fan September 7, 2023 at 3:09 pm

Take-away from the reports today – it doesn’t seem to matter which side you’re on …. plenty of fault to go ’round.

INSIDE the concertina wire or OUTSIDE

ON the bench or arguing BEFORE it

CHOOSING judicial candidates or MANIPULATING judges

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VERITAS Top fan September 7, 2023 at 4:47 pm

Corrupt and criminal correction officers cozying up to inmates puts EVERY corrections officer at that facility in danger. There should be a special hell on earth for these corrections officers. And inquiring minds want to know how inmates are able to carry operate or participate in criminal enterprises from prison. How’s that happen. Prisons are a joke.

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