Deputy accused of smuggling items into Orleans prison resigns _lowres

Photo provided -- "A serrated folding knife was recently recovered after a shakedown in Orleans Parish Prison, underscoring the jail's continuing struggle with contraband. Sheriff's Office investigators are looking into how the weapon ended up inside the jail."

A deputy sheriff accused of smuggling packages of contraband into Orleans Parish Prison has resigned her position amid an internal investigation.

The deputy, Evelyn Tureaud, who worked at the jail’s troubled Conchetta facility, stepped down Oct. 1, said Philip Stelly, an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman. She had been with the Sheriff’s Office for about six months.

“As you know, the Sheriff’s Office has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to contraband,” Stelly said in an email confirming that Tureaud had been “the subject of a contraband investigation.”

The specifics of the investigation weren’t immediately clear, but a Sheriff’s Office employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity said officials recently discovered several cellphones and at least one folding knife with a serrated edge inside the jail.

Tureaud is believed to have been romantically involved with an inmate, the source said, but the extent of the items she allegedly smuggled into the jail remains under investigation.

State law makes it a crime to possess or introduce dangerous weapons, drugs and other contraband into jails and prisons.

Tureaud had not been arrested Tuesday, but Sheriff’s Office investigators were consulting with the District Attorney’s Office about what charges she might face, said Marc Ehrhardt, another spokesman for Sheriff Marlin Gusman.

“The Sheriff’s Office absolutely will pursue all available criminal action against this deputy,” Ehrhardt said. “We are completing the investigation, consulting with the DA and determining what criminal action will be taken.”

Efforts to reach Tureaud for comment were unsuccessful.

Tureaud’s resignation was the latest indication of the seemingly free flow of contraband into OPP, raising fresh questions about the jail’s security protocols. The jail is subject to a long list of court-ordered reforms under a federal consent decree, yet inmate-on-inmate attacks remain rampant.

The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a photograph obtained by The New Orleans Advocate on Tuesday depicted a folding knife recently found inside the jail — a potentially deadly weapon that appeared far more menacing than the traditional shanks or homemade knives that commonly turn up after shakedowns.

“We continue to get reports that there is a lot of contraband in OPP, including specifically knives, and that there was a rash of recent stabbings,” said Katie Schwartzmann, the MacArthur Justice Center attorney whose class-action lawsuit on behalf of inmates resulted in the consent decree. “We are very concerned for the safety of our clients in the jail.”

The most recent report issued by the team of outside experts monitoring the consent decree reforms faulted the Sheriff’s Office for not conducting shakedowns frequently enough, as evidenced by “the large amount of contraband which is discovered each time shakedowns do occur.”

After such a search, “there is no effort to determine the source of the contraband and remediate the danger,” the monitors wrote in their report.

In March, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said authorities were looking into how more than a dozen smartphones ended up inside the prison. It remains unclear whether anyone was ever charged in that investigation.

Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.