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2 Harford guards are found guilty of fraternization


BEL AIR -- Two guards at the Harford County Detention Center have been found guilty of having social relationships with inmates, a violation of police codes of conduct.

James Roberts, 39, a correctional officer first class, was convicted of seven violations. All of the charges stemmed from an incident last August in which he had sex with an inmate at the county Detention Center in Bel Air, said Sheriff Robert E. Comes.

Mr. Roberts has been an employee at the Detention Center for about three years, the sheriff said.

The other guard found guilty of misconduct is Connie Russell, 32, a correctional officer for less than a year, said the sheriff.

"She established an off-duty social relationship with a convicted felon after he was released from the Detention Center," the sheriff said.

Each guard was found guilty by a separate administrative hearing board. Each board recommended dismissal.

The sheriff said the charges came as a result of an investigation into allegations that some guards at the jail were using drugs.

Mr. Roberts and Ms. Russell were among four guards suspended with pay after the investigation began April 1.

A third guard was charged with misconduct and is to have a hearinng May 22. No charges were filed against the fourth guard, who has returned to duty, the sheriff said.

Sheriff Comes said "no evidence of drug use or dealing" was found.

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