Broward sheriff’s jail deputy Oreth Smith of Plantation, Florida was arrested on March 28 for allegedly using a personal cellphone, which is considered contraband, for long periods of his work shift instead of conducting head counts, security checks, and other administrative duties.
Smith, 35, faces charges for introducing contraband into a jail and official misconduct after it was discovered he falsified inmate head count reports. He was released on bond the following day. The press did not list an attorney for Smith.
According to the arrest affidavit, a complaint filed by an inmate brought Smith to the attention of investigators last year. The inmate reportedly told investigators that Smith did not perform his security checks and head counts at the end of his shift; he was instead seen using his cellphone at his desk.
The inmate’s allegations were reportedly corroborated by video surveillance footage from inside the jail, which showed Smith allegedly using a personal cellphone in violation with the sheriff’s office policy that forbids deputies from bringing cellphones into the jail.
In addition to performing security checks and head counts, Smith was also responsible for day-to-day operations like feeding the inmates, maintaining a log documenting all events and activities within one of the jail units, and controlling the opening and closing of all the doors within the unit.
“The final head count is an extremely important responsibility, in that it may identify an escaped inmate or an inmate that is [in] need of medical attention or even deceased,” the arrest affidavit said.
Investigators also looked into Smith’s possible connection with the escape of inmate Dayonte Resiles from a courthouse in Fort Lauderdale last July, sources say. Resiles, 22, was jailed in 2014 after he allegedly stabbed a woman to death during a home burglary. He somehow managed to remove his restrains in a fourth-floor courtroom before escaping through an emergency exit. He was found less than a week later in Riviera Beach.
Resiles reportedly used Facebook to plan his escape. He gained access to the website within the jail and used it to get in touch with accomplices. He later told investigators that he sometimes used a jail employee’s phone to go on Facebook.
After his recapture, Detective Jason Hendrick of Broward sheriff’s office was tasked with finding out whether an employee’s “intentional or unintentional” involvement was a contributing factor in his escape. Smith allegedly had frequent contact with Resiles before his escape, according to a search warrant obtained by the press. He reportedly escorted inmates from the jail to the courthouse 24 times between June and July, including the day Resiles escaped. Hendrick’s investigation concluded that Resiles had contact with Smith moments before his escape. Smith was placed on restricted administrative assignment as the investigation continued.
The arrest affidavit does not mention Smith’s potential connection to Resiles’ escape. Smith has worked for Broward sheriff’s office for almost a decade. He has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.