Second jail employee pleads guilty to food theft conspiracy

Second jail employee pleads guilty to food theft conspiracy

FORREST COUNTY (WDAM) - A second employee at the Forrest County Detention Center has pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

Former jail cook Jerry Woodland, 52, entered a guilty plea in federal court Monday morning when he appeared before Judge Keith Starrett. He is charged with one felony count of conspiracy in connection to ordering food items through the jail for personal use.

Allen Haralson, the former kitchen supervisor at the jail, pleaded guilty to the same charge in November. Both men are free on bail under pre-trial supervision.

According to the case filed by the United States Attorney, Haralson and Woodland ordered food and food-related items between 2002 and 2014, along with others "known and unknown to the United States Attorney."

The U.S. attorney's statement also said Haralson and Woodland "did knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with persons known and unknown to the United States Attorney to commit.. theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and/or mail fraud."

It said Haralson and Woodland would "conceal the true identity" of what was being ordered through the detention center by "fraudulently listing or causing others to fraudulently list" items for purchase orders. According to the statement, Haralson and Woodland"would embezzle, steal, obtain by fraud, knowingly convert or intentionally misapply food or food-related items" by transporting them from the detention center to personal residences, including Haralson and Woodland's, or to "businesses or other entities owned or controlled by or affiliated with Haralson and Woodland" for personal use.

The food that was allegedly being stolen included "ribs, steak, shrimp, clam strips, and beef brisket."

According to sources, there are several other individuals related to this case in federal court, but a court date has not been set.

Woodland will appear before Judge Starrett for sentencing on March 9 at 10:15 a.m., and Haralson's sentencing is set for February 5 at 2:15 p.m.