CASE FILE: Text Messages Don’t Reflect Intimidation in Derriso Contraband Case in Screven County

Editor’s Note: This article follows the adjudication of State v. Hannah Reeves Derriso in Screven County in which Derriso was sentenced after pleading guilty to providing a cell phone and tobacco to an inmate at the Screven County Correctional Institute. routinely covers prison-related cases, particularly those involving contraband cell phones, as a tangent to a prison cell phone case in Tattnall County which resulted in the brutal murders of three people. 

After Derriso was sentenced in December, she posted on an article by TGV and said, “If you ever want to know what actually happened, let me know.” She then made a number of posts on social media about ‘covering for other county employees’ and suggested TGV would be ‘biased’ if her side of the story was not told.

TGV scheduled two interviews with Derriso over a two week period (on January 3 and January 11), but the interviews were canceled by Derriso at the last minute. Simultaneously, TGV obtained the complete case file under the Georgia Open Records Act in a quest to ‘get the whole story’ and report her side.

The publishing of the documents and videos contained are an attempt to ‘tell the whole story.’ The records were also sought to see if Derriso submitted any proof during the investigation that this was an ongoing problem at the Screven County courthouse in which she covered for other people.

Derriso was arrested on January 25, 2023 for providing a contraband cell phone and tobacco to an inmate, Santonyo Monteza Boyd, at the Screven County Correctional Institute. She worked as an employee at the courthouse and he was on an inmate work detail. Derriso was indicted by a grand jury in April 2023, along with Boyd, and faced up to 20 years in prison for her two charges. She pleaded guilty in December 2023 just ahead of a scheduled bench trial while Boyd pleaded guilty in September 2023. She received a sentence of 180 days on a lesser charge while he was sentenced to five years in prison. (Read more about the background here) 

The story presented by Derriso has changed since her arrest. Initially Derriso’s story was that she was in fear for her life, per family members who contacted TGV. She also said in an interview with police and in written confessions that she was afraid of Boyd. The story later transitioned to her suggestion that she was not properly trained, then that she was covering for other county employees at the courthouse and that she was selectively prosecuted. 

The documents obtained by TGV shed light on all of those statements. Under the Georgia Open Records Act, the case file contained the text messages between Boyd and Derriso, a video interview, and a written confession provided to the Warden of SCCI.

Interview with Sylvania PD

On December 30, 2022, Investigator Normal Royal met with Derriso at Sylvania PD to conduct an interview. She willingly spoke to Royal without being Mirandized. 

In the interview, Derriso told Royal the friendship with Boyd began with Boyd asking her to help with a letter to the Parole Board, to which she agreed. She said she told him she would try to help him find a job when he got out and that it wasn’t until “later” that he began to ask to use her phone. She agreed until she found out he was calling people other than his mother. He then asked her to get him his own phone, to which she agreed. 

Derriso told Royal that she attempted to avoid Boyd when she could because she was uncomfortable around him and that that’s one of the reasons she provided him with a phone in the first place, but text messages indicate she was communicating with Boyd and having him meet her in the office right up until a few hours before Boyd was found with the phone.

On multiple occasions during the interview, Derriso said she knew what she was doing was wrong, that she “tried to clean up the mess” herself, and she wanted to make it right.

Hannah Derriso Pre-Arrest Interview with Sylvania PD

Screven County employee Hannah Reeves Derriso was interviewed by Sylvania Police Investigator Norman Royal about her role in providing a contraband cell phone to a correctional institute inmate. Interview: 12/30/22 Video obtained under the Georgia Open Records Act. STORY:

Statement for Warden of Screven County Correctional Institute

The letter is undated, but in her interview with Royal, Derriso mentions the lengthy statement she penned for the Warden when it happened. 

Derriso references hiding from Boyd when he would ask her for things and being “very uncomfortable” when he was around. She said he made mention of Derriso having a threesome with his girlfriend and he would put his arm around her and make inappropriate comments. She also detailed what was relayed to her by Boyd about the living conditions at the prison. 

In it, she mentions she never intended to do anything unlawful and that she was tricked, contradicting what she told Royal in her interview on December 22. It also conflicts with her statements made in texts to Boyd. 

She wrote that she was relieved when everything came to light because it forced her hand on the matter.

Commentary on Facebook 

Since her case proceedings began, Derriso has repeatedly suggested that she took a plea to cover for other people who work at the courthouse. 

On January 15, 2024 Derriso posted about her sentence and stated that she “unknowingly incriminated” herself when she reported an inmate. There is no evidence in the case file to suggest she reported an inmate. 

In her interview with Royal, Derriso suggests that she told “Debbie and Vickie” in her office about feeling uncomfortable about Boyd. But by her own admissions in that same interview, Derriso did not notify the county manager, who is the HR director and the liaison between the county and the prison inmate details, of anything about Boyd until the day after he was ‘busted.’ She also said she initially “lied to Lori the day it happened.”

Text Messages Indicate She Knew What She Did Was Wrong

On 10/5/22, she wrote “You better keep that phone hidden and hidden well. Someone sees you with that shit and it’s your ass.”

On 10/7/22, Boyd called her and she told him she “can’t talk to you[Boyd]” on the phone when she was in the office.

Text Messages Don’t Suggest She Was Fearful of Boyd 

According to the text messages obtained from the cell phone download, Derriso was in Boyd’s phone as ‘Banana.’ (The number associated with ‘Banana’ was confirmed to be that of Derriso when she communicated with TGV for an interview)

Among the findings on the phone:

  • The first text message between Derriso and Boyd was initiated by Derriso.
  • On at least 3 occasions, she offered to go pick up food for Boyd without him asking first
  • On 10/5/22, she told him to meet her in the back of the office
  • On 10/6/22, she told him to meet her at her car
  • On 10/7/22, she told him to come down to her office
  • On 10/12/22, she asked him to come to her because she needed his assistance
  • She discussed sharing food and cooties with Boyd
  • She had a nickname for Boyd
  • Boyd suggested she should trust him and he’d ‘never let it (the phone) come back to her and she replied, “I know you won’t.”
  • She referenced throwing in items ‘for free’ as ‘incentive’ while she was shopping for tobacco for him

The gaps between some text messages do indicate that communication took place face-to-face, but there is no evidence to suggest Derriso attempted to halt communication with Boyd. Their last text message exchange was on 10/13/22 and he was caught with the phone on and tobacco the same day. 

The communication contradicts the claims of hiding from Boyd when he was at the courthouse.  

Boyd did ask for her address at one point and she said she was not comfortable providing it.

(The blue messages are Derriso. The green messages are Boyd)

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Selective Prosecution 

As part of her guilty plea, Derriso was given a reduced charge to allow a judge to sentence her below the mandatory two year minimum sentence – which she would have received for each count. She was sentenced under the First Offender Act and is expected to serve a maximum of 180 days in a Probation Detention Center, a step down from a GDC prison facility that she would have been assigned to had she been convicted of the offenses for which she was indicted. 

There is no evidence in the case file that suggests Derriso was the only person prosecuted or that evidence of wrongdoing by other courthouse employees exists.

Screven County Grand Jury Indicts Derriso in Inmate Contraband Case, Additional Charges Added
Warrants Identify Inmate in SCCI Contraband Case, Additional Charges Forthcoming

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and co-creator of of the Peabody Award-nominated podcast 'Prison Town.'

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