Belle Meade police help crack massive Georgia prison fraud case

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Federal investigators, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Department of Corrections, raided a Georgia prison late last week.

Fifty-one people, including 15 prison guards as well as convicts, were arrested and accused of using cell phones smuggled into he prison to defraud citizens as far away as Davidson County.

The massive investigation is almost a year in the making and the Belle Meade Police Department has played a prominent role in helping crack the case.

Detective Tom Sexton has been working the case and says, “What better place to commit a crime than inside a prison?”

In March of 2015, Det. Sexton got a case from a Belle Meade senior citizen who received a call reportedly from a Davidson County sheriff’s deputy.

Cell Phone Generic
(Photo: WKRN)

The caller told the Belle Meade senior that he has missed jury duty and the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department has a warrant for his arrest unless the senior citizen pays a substantial fine, which he does.

Sexton told News 2 the caller sounds very authoritative and convincing.

“I’m Lt. Davis with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department and we have a warrant for your arrest,” the caller allegedly says.

The Belle Meade detective determined the cell phone that called the victim also called 248 other Middle Tennesseans, including other investigators from Williamson and Davidson counties, Spring Hill, and himself.

“It was a pleasant experience because we got to talk to the person doing it. We talked to the person doing it and not targeting an elderly person,” Det. Sexton explained.

Sexton determined the calls originated from inside the Autry State Prison in southern Georgia.

Belle Meade police contacted the FBI and quickly learned their fraud case was part of a massive corruption investigation where 51 people were charged, including 15 current and former prison guards and convicted felons inside the prison.

Police Chief Tim Eades told News 2 he was shocked to learn that prisoners behind prison walls perpetrated this alleged crime.

Chief Eades said he is proud his department could help in such a large scale federal investigation.

“We believe it was a contribution where we have an actual victim who was identifiable,” he said.

Whether the Belle Meade victim will get his money back is unknown.

Police say officers will never call you on the phone and demand money, and if you have any reservations, you should hang up and call your local department.

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