Sheriff: County employee gave drugs, contraband to prisoners

COUNTY — A Pickens County employee was arrested last month after sheriff’s deputies received statements that he was “involved in the obtaining and furnishing of marijuana and other contraband into the Pickens County prison system.”

According to a release from sheriff Rick Clark, he and Captain Chad Brooks responded to the Pickens County administration building at the request of county administrator Chappell Hurst on Nov. 21 after Hurst said county staff had received a tip that an employee may be in possession of illegal drugs.

Clark said a county work truck was searched, and approximately 26 grams of marijuana was found in the employee’s jacket pocket. Officers also found $114 and a cellphone in the dash of the truck.

After further investigation, officers said they determined that the employee also had controlled substances hidden at the county sign shop. Prison director Keith Vinson assisted the sheriff’s office in the investigation, which officials said led to the discovery of illegal cellphones and contraband being furnished to an inmate that was assigned to the employee. The inmate’s girlfriend was also charged in the case for supplying a cellphone to the inmate.

Former county employee Steven Montgomery Holder, 52, of 256 Lay Bridge Road in Central, was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and furnishing contraband to a prisoner.

Robert Ceaphus Whisonant, 47, of 3944 Watermont Road in Kershaw, a state inmate, was charged with possession of contraband by a prisoner. Whisonant is currently serving a 10-year sentence for felony DUI involving death, according to the S.C. Department of Corrections.

In addition, Cindy Marie Nix, 44, of 1009 Slab Bridge Road in Liberty, was arrested and charged with furnishing contraband to a prisoner.

“I would like to thank all of the county departments involved in this case,” Clark said. “Administrator Hurst was adamant about prosecuting anyone who was involved in illegal activities on the job and director Vinson was a tremendous asset to our joint investigation.

“It is good to know that our county administration has zero tolerance in situations like this. Captain Brooks pursued the investigation to the point of arrest, and we feel like we have cleaned up a problem in our county.”