Prosecutor: Men dropped drugs and phones into Warren County prison using drone

Warren Correctional Institution. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

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Warren Correctional Institution. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

Two northern Ohio men are facing multiple felony charges for allegedly using a drone to drop drugs and cellphones into the yard at Warren Correctional Institution in what the county prosecutor described as an “Easter egg hunt” for inmates.

Michael Eugene Russell Williford Jr., 28, of East Cleveland, and Bryan Douglas Shepherd, 27, of Richmond Heights, were indicated by a Warren County grand jury this week on 23 counts including illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto grounds of specified government facility, aggravated trafficking in drugs, aggravated possession of drugs, possession of criminal tools and misdemeanor possession of drugs.

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According to the grand jury report, Williford and Shepherd transported drugs onto the grounds of Warren Correctional Institution using a drone between in July and August.

Williford and Shepherd were staying at a Monroe hotel, where they used glue to cover the small packages of contraband with turf. They then dropped them at WCI using a drone, according to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

“I would characterize it as a prison Easter egg hunt,” Fornsell said.

WCI tracked a drone to the Monroe hotel on July 30. Law enforcement then began conducting surveillance on the hotel.

“On Aug. 8, another drone is launched from the same location and is able to be tracked,” Fornshell said. “We get a search warrant on the hotel room and the equipment inside.”

The video on the drone shows it dropping the packages at WCI and two other prisons, Mansfield Correctional Institution and Ross Correctional Institution, he said.

Fornshell said Williford and Shepherd are believed to be part of the Heartless Felons gang that has members in prison.

Arraignment dates are scheduled for Feb. 12 in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

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