published Friday, February 25th, 2011

Deputy disciplined for relationship with inmate

A corrections deputy will be suspended for 40 hours after her supervisors learned she had a "personal" relationship with an inmate, according to an internal affairs report released Thursday.

Phone calls from the Hamilton County Jail revealed to investigators that Deputy Sandra Brown planned to have a physical relationship with an inmate once he was transferred to a state prison.

"It ain't gonna be long and we will be together," said Randy Belcher, an inmate whose jail phone conversations were recorded.

"OK, baby. Bye, bye," Brown responded, according to the report.

Investigators counted 34 recorded phone calls between Brown and Belcher.

Brown said she planned to break off the relationship when Belcher entered the prison system, the report stated. However, a March 15, 2010, call shows that Brown reportedly planned to omit her employment information on a state prison visitation form and visit Belcher for eight hours at a facility where they would be able to touch and hug. Belcher asked for Brown to send him some pictures of herself when she writes him, according to the report.

On Nov. 23, 2010, Brown was interviewed by investigators. She said "she had no inappropriate contact with inmate Belcher and had at no time brought any items into the jail or provided him with any special considerations as a result of their relationship," according to the report.

Sheriff Jim Hammond said Brown received a 40-hour suspension in December because she violated policy by fraternizing with an inmate and allowed telephone calls.

"It [the relationship] could have gone elsewhere, but it didn't," Hammond said.

She described their relationship as "intellectual," when she was interviewed by investigators.

Hammond said female corrections officers working in a jail often get extra attention from male inmates.

"Every male attempts to hit on them to get ahead. ... Sometimes these females have to be extra cautious," he said.

Belcher has a lengthy arrest record in Hamilton County including charges of aggravated assault, robbery, theft and forgery, according to court records.

He is serving a prison sentence for a robbery case dating back to 2008 where he lunged across the counter at a clerk at a convenience store and grabbed $30 out of a register.

His sentence is expected to end in August 2013, according to state prison records.

Brown had two previous internal affairs complaints since she began working for the sheriff's office in 2008. Both complaints were not sustained.

In addition to the 40-hour suspension she will be placed on six months of probation, according to the report. She is expected to begin her suspension in the next couple of weeks. She could not be reached for comment for this story.

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