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Rick Scott, Governor
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Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary


Press Release
July 13, 2009
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
(850) 488-0420

DC Investigation Nets Employee Arrest
July 13, 2009

Highlands County — Avon Park Correctional Officer Richard Pillajo, 37, was arrested Friday, July 10, 2009 for trafficking in cocaine, possession of cannabis with intent to sell, possession of opium derivative with intent to sell and attempted introduction of narcotics into a state correctional facility after allegedly agreeing to smuggle one ounce of powdered cocaine, 112 grams of marijuana and 20 hydrocodone pills into Avon Park Correctional Institution.

“While I am disgusted by the actions of this officer, I am pleased with the continued work of the Department´s Inspector General´s," said Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil.  “The Department´s Inspectors, along with security staff, continue to work diligently to keep drugs, contraband and illegal activity out of our prison system regardless of who is involved,” says McNeil. 
Pillajo is being immediately terminated and we are working with law enforcement to ensure he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The Department´s Inspector General´s Office began the investigation in June after receiving information from an informant.  Pillajo thought he was picking up drugs from an inmate´s family member to smuggle into the prison.  The Highlands County Sheriff´s Special Operations Unit assisted in the operation and made the arrest. 

This incident remains under investigation by the Florida Department of Corrections.  For more information contact the Office of Public Affairs at (850) 488-0420 or (850) 778-6758.