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Corrections officer arrested on trafficking charge after 100 cell phones found inside car

PENDLETON, Ind. – Police arrested a corrections officer after finding more than a hundred cell phones inside his car.

According to Indiana State Police, investigators from the Department of Correction contacted detectives Tuesday morning after finding the cell phones, which were inside sealed plastic bags concealed inside an employee’s car.

The employee, 23-year-old Taylor Hardesty, had dropped the car off at the Pendleton Correctional Facilities inmate run body shop to get the brakes repaired. With Hardesty set to pick up the car in the afternoon, police tracked him a home on the south side of Indianapolis.

“After we the door panels off of the car, we found 20 vacuum sealed bags containing 103 cell phones with chargers and sim cards,” said Indiana State Police Detective Bob May.

He was arrested and taken to Madison County on charges of trafficking with an inmate and bribery. The investigation was a joint effort involving Department of Correction Internal Affairs and Indiana State Police.

Officials at Pendleton Correctional Facility said Hardesty planned to smuggle the phones into the facility. The 103 phones, chargers, and SIM cards have an estimated value of more than $100,000 in prison, according to Superintendent Dushan Zatecky.

“The cellphones would have been used to order heroin and heroin laced with fentanyl. The deaths inside of the jail would have went through the roof,” said Detective May.

“It is disheartening that a staff member with less than a year’s experience would allegedly turn his back on his fellow co-workers and his duties as a Correctional Officer to traffic with an offender for personal gain,” Zatecky said in a statement. “Cell phones remain one of the greatest threats to the safety and security of our facility.”

Police say Hardesty was trafficking with inmates to make extra cash. Cell phones are one of the hottest items inside of the prison, allowing criminals to communicate and make drug deals.

“He was getting paid $1,000 a trip, every time that he brought something in. Tuesday was going to be the big score for him…if it would have made it through,” said Detective May.

Officials say Hardesty was not just moving cell-phones but drugs too. He only worked at the facility for a year but police believe he was trafficking with inmates at the facility for months.

“If you are caught smuggling then you are going to jail,” said Detective May.