Fmr. Screven County Employee Enters Guilty Plea in Prison Contraband Case

A former Screven County employee entered a guilty plea in Screven County Superior Court Friday morning.

Hannah Derriso, appearing with her attorney, Cindy Delgado, stood before Judge Lovett Bennett Jr. and accepted a sentence for unlawful actions which occurred in 2022. 

Derriso, 37, of Sylvania, was booked into the Screven County Jail on January 25, 2023 on warrants alleging that Derriso provided a contraband cell phone to an inmate at the Screven County Correctional Institute who was working at the courthouse. Derriso was the Elections Supervisor for the Screven County Elections Office, which is housed in the Screven County Courthouse in Sylvania. 

Derriso and the inmate, Santonyo Monteza Boyd, had access to one another through an inmate detail at the courthouse. As part of an ongoing agreement between the Georgia Department of Corrections and Screven County, Screven County Correctional Institute (SCCI) provides a host of inmate work details to Screven County offices and building grounds, including the courthouse. 

Under Georgia law, providing a cell phone to an inmate is a felony offense. O.C.G.A. § 42-5-18(b) states that it is unlawful for any person to “obtain for, to procure for, or to give to an inmate a gun, pistol, or any other weapon; any intoxicating liquor; amphetamines, biphetamines, or any other hallucinogenic drugs or other drugs, regardless of the amount; any telecommunications device; or any other article or item without the authorization of the warden or superintendent or his or her designee.” 

Any person found guilty of this offense should be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years but not more than ten years. Additionally, the court is barred from suspending or probating the mandatory minimum sentence of two years, meaning it would be required that the individual serve time in a state prison. Cell phone contraband in Georgia prisons have frequented news headlines as cell phones in the possession of inmates have facilitated the operations of criminal enterprises. In southeast Georgia in particular, contraband cell phones have assisted in the assaults on and attempted murders of corrections officers, murders-for-hire on innocent members of the public, and dozens of other criminal acts accompanied by drugs and violence.

Co-Defendant Enters Guilty Plea 

Investigators with the Sylvania Police Department charged Boyd with possessiong a cell phone unlawfully . A Screven County grand jury returned a ‘True Bill’ for both Derriso and Boyd in April 2023.

Under O.C.G.A. § 42-5-18(c), it’s unlawful for an inmate to possess a gun, pistol, or any other weapon; any intoxicating liquor; tobacco or any product containing tobacco; amphetamines, biphetamines, or any other hallucinogenic drugs or other drugs, regardless of the amount; a telecommunications device; or any other item without the authorization of the warden or superintendent or his or her designee. Any inmate who commits or attempts to commit this act and is found guilty would be guilty of a felony and subject to a one-to-five-year sentence in prison. 

In September 2023, Boyd entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to an additional five years to serve in prison.

According to GDC records, Boyd is serving a ten-year sentence, which began in January 2022, for Trafficking Methamphetamine, among other things. The 48-year-old was convicted in Troup County in West Georgia, though his criminal history is much lengthier. He has since been transferred to Wilcox State Prison in Abbeville. It is also a medium security facility, but of a much larger size, housing upwards of 1,800 inmates. More on Boyd here.

Derriso Speaks on the Issue

The Friday before Derriso’s last court appearance, she took to Facebook to opine about the situation, including how the court procedures have transpired, suggesting that if she takes a plea, she is covering for others in Screven County government. 

Derriso purported that the ADA in the case, Ben Edwards, should not be handling her case because Derriso worked for the marketing firm that ran the Solicitor’s campaign for Catherine Findley in 2020. Findley and Edwards were opponents. 

However, state campaign finance documents indicate the same firm also ran the political campaign of District Attorney Daphne Totten, who is Edwards’ boss. Totten has final say on all things that happen in her office, but Derriso did not mention the connection to Totten in her Facebook post. 

She also suggested that the county carried responsibility for not providing inmate training, though she never worked with inmates directly, and that she was a new employee.

Derriso also took issue with the fact that she was arrested four months after giving the phone to Boyd, though SPD sent the phone off for a forensic download, which took several months. In many agencies, it is standard to complete an investigation before making an arrest. 

You can read the full post, which was deleted a few hours after it was posted, below. 

Derriso’s Plea

On Friday, Derriso formally entered a guilty plea in court. As part of the plea, Derriso was allowed to plead to a lesser charge with a lesser sentence.

Judge Bennett subsequently sentenced her to the following conditions:

  • 5 years probation
  • 180 days to serve in a GDC Probation Detention Center
  • Fist Offender status

Derriso will be allowed to report 30 days from today. She also received a three-year behavioral incentive, meaning her probation will end early if all conditions are met.

Screven County Employee Arrested for Giving Cellphone to Inmate at Screven County Prison
Warrants Identify Inmate in SCCI Contraband Case, Additional Charges Forthcoming
Screven County Grand Jury Indicts Derriso in Inmate Contraband Case, Additional Charges Added

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 a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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