Darin Laird, Versailles, was sentenced by Ripley Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Sharp Sept. 11 to two years in jail for trafficking contraband into the Ripley County Jail at least twice between Feb. 16 and March 9 while working as a jail officer.
Prior to sentencing, Laird pleaded guilty to official misconduct, a Level 6 felony; and trafficking with an inmate, a Class A misdemeanor. He faced a maximum sentence of two and a half years.
During the hearing, Laird was questioned about the details of his crimes. The defendant explained that he was contacted by an inmate’s girlfriend, whom he had known previously, to bring contraband into the jail on her behalf to the inmate. Laird and the girlfriend would meet at a gas station in Versailles, where the contraband would then be given to Laird prior to the start of his shift. The jail officer would then conceal the contraband in a glove and carry it into the jail unbeknownst to any other jail staff.
Laird would then have a short conversation with the inmate in his jail cell, where he would give the contraband to the inmate in a manner to avoid detection. While working as a jail officer, Laird had direct access to the inmates. He explained the contraband as tightly folded up pieces of paper with tape around them, but admitted he didn’t know what was inside them. While the trafficking was occurring, Laird admitted he was receiving nude pictures of the girlfriend, but denied he was receiving them in exchange for trafficking the contraband into the jail.
At the sentencing hearing, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Tucker argued that Laird’s dangerous actions not only put other jail officers at risk, but also the other inmates and the public at large. Further, Tucker urged the court that the multiple times this had occurred and the well-thought-out plan Laird initiated to transport the contraband justified an aggravated sentence.
Laird’s attorney requested that the court take into consideration that Laird had no additional criminal history and his employment history.
The judge agreed with the state and sentenced Laird to two years while emphasizing that his conduct severely violated the public’s trust. Due to Laird committing these crimes as a Ripley County jail officer, he will serve his time in a neighboring county jail.
In reference to the sentence, Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Ric Hertel stated, “Laird’s conduct was extremely dangerous and placed the safety and welfare of the other jail staff, inmates, law enforcement officers and the community in jeopardy. Laird took advantage of the public’s trust by trafficking contraband to inmates while working as a jail officer. His conduct warrants the aggravated sentence he received.”