Correctional officer faces felony charges

PENDLETON — A Pendleton Correctional Facility officer was arrested Tuesday on charges of trafficking with an inmate and bribery after investigators found about $100,000 worth of contraband products in a car, according to a facility report.

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The report states correctional officer Taylor Hardesty (above) “allegedly delivered his personal vehicle to the facility for repairs to be completed in the auto body shop.

“The vehicle was intercepted by intelligence and investigation personnel who conducted a search of the vehicle. Approximately 103 cell phones, chargers and SIM cards were found hidden in the vehicle.”

The value of the goods inside the prison is estimated to be about $100,000.

With the assistance of Indiana State Police Detective, Hardesty was placed into custody and transported to the Madison County Jail where he was charged with trafficking with an inmate and bribery, both Level 5 felonies.

“It is disheartening that a staff member with less than a year’s experience would allegedly turn his back on his fellow co-workers and his duties as a correctional officer to traffic with an offender for personal gain,” Superintendent Dushan Zatecky wrote in a press release. “Cell phones remain one of the greatest threats to the safety and security of our facility.

“I would like to extend my appreciation to our intelligence and investigations staff who swiftly carried out the search to confiscate the cell phones before they could be introduced into the facility,” he wrote. “The continued assistance of ISP Detective Bob May in apprehending Hardesty is greatly appreciated.”