JEFFERSONVILLE — A man already incarcerated on an attempted murder charge and a Sellersburg woman were arrested Monday after authorities said they conspired to bring illegal drugs into the Clark County jail.
Ronald Voelker, 49, of Elizabeth, and Melissa Richie, 43, of Sellersburg face multiple charges. According to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Richie mailed Voelker paper that had been saturated with a synthetic drug.
The investigation started on Jan. 5. The sheriff’s office began examining what was labeled as legal mail sent to an inmate inside the jail, which was “suspicious in nature” and looked to have been saturated with a substance.
Further investigation revealed the paper had been saturated with a Controlled 1 scheduled substance, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities believed it was labeled as legal mail by the sender to avoid inspection.
Jail officers can inspect normal mail but are not allowed to view any legal correspondence sent to inmates.
According to the sheriff’s office, investigators concluded that Richie mailed the envelope to Voelker after saturating the paper with the synthetic drug. Voelker has been incarcerated at the jail since March 2020, on charges including attempted murder and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.
Additionally, investigators believe that Richie and Voelker used another inmate’s name as potential cover for the alleged offenses.
“When mailing the envelope Richie and Voelker coordinated and conspired to send the mail to another inmate located in the same location as Voelker,” a news release states. “It is believed the inmate who the envelope was addressed to was not privy to these criminal actions and could be considered a victim.”
Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel said he’s made it a top priority to investigate and arrest any person who attempts to introduce drugs into the jail.
“We dedicate a tremendous amount of time and resources to help inmates with substance abuse inside our facility. We will not tolerate any person who preys on the vulnerable while attempting to better themselves at the Clark County jail,” Noel said.
Scottie Maples, chief deputy of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, said there are employees who check mail daily looking for drugs and contraband. He said they don’t typically find something illegal daily, but regularly enough to warrant the inspections.
While most of the mail is legit, Maples said there are some who take advantage of loopholes. Some changes have been made including scanning mail for inmates so that they receive a digital copy. But that doesn’t work for legal mail which has to be delivered directly to the inmate.
Maples reiterated Noel’s statement about the importance of keeping illegal drugs out of the jail.
“If you’re on the outside trying to insert drugs into the jail, we’ll go to every extreme we can to find you and investigate you and charge you because it’s that serious,” he said.
Richie faces two Level 5 felony counts of conspiracy to commit trafficking with an inmate along with a Level 6 felony charge of conspiracy to commit dealing in a Schedule 1 controlled substance. She’s also charged with a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit dealing in marijuana. She was released on bond Monday.
Voelker is charged with two counts of aiding, inducing or causing trafficking with an inmate, a Level 5 felony. He also faces a Level 6 felony count of aiding, inducing or causing dealing in a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and a misdemeanor charge for aiding, inducing or causing dealing in marijuana.
He remains in Clark County jail, where he was initially incarcerated after authorities said he fired gunshots at a vehicle during a road rage incident.