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Buford prison employee pleads guilty to smuggling drugs into kitchen
Charonda Edwards worked in kitchen of Phillips State Prison in Buford
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A College Park woman working in a Buford prison was the first of more than 80 defendants Wednesday to plead guilty to smuggling drugs into the facility.

Charonda Edwards, 29, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and marijuana and interfering with commerce by extortion.

Edwards was charged in a Sept. 22 indictment along with Georgia Department of Corrections inmates.

According to the indictment, Edwards worked in the kitchen of Phillips State Prison in Buford.

“Edwards obtained drugs, tobacco and other items requested by (inmate Johnathan Silvers) in exchange for payment,” according to the indictment. “Edwards smuggled the items into prison, typically hiding them inside the Phillips State Prison kitchen for inmates who would later retrieve the contraband.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Edwards received contraband orders on smuggled cellphones, and inmates “paid bribes to her using prepaid debit cards.”

“At the same time, Edwards provided valuable correctional information to the inmates, such as when the prison would be on ‘lock down’ or would be searched by guards,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s news release.

The maximum prison sentence for drug conspiracy is 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million, according to the Department of Justice. The bribery count carries the the same maximum prison sentence with a fine of up to $250,000.

“The security of our prisons depends on correctional employees to perform their jobs honestly and with integrity,” U.S. Attorney John Horn said in a news release. “The safety and effectiveness of the prison system is compromised when employees, like Edwards, conspire with inmates to bring contraband into institutions.”

Sentencing is not set for Edwards.