LIMA — A former prison guard convicted of smuggling drugs into Allen Correctional Institution will be trading his gray shirt for a blue shirt for the next four years.
Elroy James, 62, was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison. A jury convicted James last month of illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a detention facility.
Judge Richard Warren of Allen County Common Pleas Court said the sentence should send a message to inmates and prison employees that drugs inside prisons will not be tolerated. Drugs are used to obtain power and control.
“This message should be loud and clear,” Warren said.
James stuck to his story he was an innocent victim who was unaware drugs were inside his lunch box. He said an unknown person must have placed the drugs there when he stopped for coffee on his way to work June 9.
The drugs were found by another guard who searched anyone entering the prison.
James said he always has respected the law and always abided by it. He blamed his trial attorney saying he was told he would be able to take the stand to show the jury he was a man of credibility.
“I’m still innocent,” he said.
Warren told James he didn’t believe his story or that he was innocent.
James painted himself as a man struggling with health problems including mental health issues left over from his military service in the Vietnam War. He asked Warren for a furlough from prison because of eye problems.
Warren told James he had a good job paying $20.94 an hour he threw away and was going to prison.
James was fired in October. He has had previous allegations of smuggling drugs into prison against him. He was previously fired on drug-smuggling allegations but his union fought to get his job back.