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Corrections officer accused of smuggling drugs forced to resign

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MALONE — The corrections officer accused in October of attempting to smuggle drugs into prison has been forced to leave his position at the Franklin Correctional Facility.

Ricky J. Hance, 51, of Constable, was arrested Aug. 30 by state police and charged with official misconduct, second-degree receiving rewards for official misconduct, second-degree introduction of contraband in prison, first-degree prison contraband and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

He was accused of participating in a plot to smuggle suboxone tablets into the prison.

The charges were a collection of felonies and misdemeanors.

On Nov. 19, Mr. Hance pleaded guilty to official misconduct, a misdemeanor, under the condition that he would agree to resign from his job. He paid a $200 fine and $205 surcharge.

Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne said in September that Mr. Hance was allegedly paid $100 by an individual not incarcerated or working at the facility to deliver about 10 tablets and $50 to an inmate. He was arrested in the Kmart plaza in Malone without ever having brought the drugs to the prison.

Officials believed Mr. Hance had previously brought inmates items such as pencils, erasers and packages of coffee, Mr. Champagne said. The investigation turned serious when white pills and marijuana were discovered inside one of the coffee packets.

“It’s one of those that we think it was caught fairly early,” Mr. Champagne said. He said this was one of the reasons Mr. Hance received the deal that he did.

The second reason was monetary.

It can cost the state upwards of $50,000 to terminate a corrections officer due to the protection of a labor union, according to Mr. Champagne. Securing Mr. Hance’s resignation saves a lot of money, the district attorney said.

After only five years as a state employee, Mr. Hance is not eligible to receive a state pension.

He began working as a corrections officer in June 2007; as of August 2013 he was receiving a base pay of $55,745.

In a situation in which a public official has put in the 25 years necessary to collect a pension, prosecutors can challenge the rewarding of the pension as long as the criminal offense leading to the resignation is a felony and is related to the official’s public position under the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011.

The district attorney with jurisdiction over a corrupt public official can order the reduction or revocation of that person’s pension in these cases.

The action can commence only within six months of a guilty plea to or conviction on the felony charges. Under the law, officers and employees of state departments count as public officials.

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