published Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Hamilton County jailer resigns after she's linked to inmate's stolen food stamps

Former Hamilton County Jail sergeant, Wanda Henry Smith
Former Hamilton County Jail sergeant, Wanda Henry Smith
Photo by Ben Benton /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A homeless man serving his remaining sentence for a theft conviction believes he recently had a Hamilton County Sheriff's Office corrections sergeant commit the same crime against him.

Sgt. Wanda Henry Smith resigned after she was connected to an investigation where an inmate's food stamp card was stolen and used.

Smith, who resides in Dunlap, Tenn., worked at the sheriff's office for 12 years. She did not respond to a request seeking comment.

The Sept. 10 incident was reported to the sheriff's office Nov. 19.

Greg Sciance, 55, violated his probation for a case in which he was convicted of theft when he was unable to report to his probation officer, he said.

While incarcerated at the Hamilton County Jail, his food stamp card was used. It was missing when he checked his wallet. On Friday, he received a new card. Although the money is gone, he received a partial amount of money to get by, he said.

While Sciance was locked up, he said eight purchases were made on his card where the pin was changed using his Social Security number. Social Security numbers of inmates are routinely printed on court documents, which jail staff have access to.

"I went to jail for theft. ... I served 182 hard days in jail sleeping on a hard bed eating not too good of food," Sciance said. "She did -- every time she swiped that card -- the same crime I did. In my mind she ought to get eight times 182 days."

There were three purchases at Walmart in Dunlap, four at the Dollar General in Dunlap and one at the Dollar Tree in Soddy-Daisy. The total of all the purchases was $370.51.

"The question is: Is this an isolated incident, or has this lady done this to other people?" Sciance said.

The case will be reviewed by the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office, said Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond.

"We'll be presenting to the Hamilton County grand jury on her case," he said.

Two other corrections officers were arrested earlier this year. Corrections officer Lori Pickett, who is suspended without pay from the sheriff's office, was arrested by East Ridge police for reportedly forging a prescription for pain medication. Her next court date is set for Dec. 12 before Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman.

Corrections officer Dale Daniel was arrested in July after co-workers gave more than $2,000 to him because he reportedly had cancer. It turns out Daniel never had cancer. He faces nine theft charges. His next court date is set for Feb. 13 before Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman.

Staff writer Ben Benton contributed to this article.

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