Officers thwart smuggling try at County Jail

MAYVILLE – A visit at the Chautauqua County Jail resulted in felony charges for a Falconer woman and an inmate Wednesday.

Charged with felony first-degree promoting prison contraband and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance were Charlene A. Vergith, 31, of West James Street, and Ahren B. Morano, 29, of Dunkirk.

According to the Chau-tauqua County Sheriff’s Of-fice, Vergith allegedly handed Morano 10 strips of the drug Suboxone while visiting Morano at the County Jail. Corrections officers observed the exchange in the visiting room at 9:30 a.m., a police report said.

Vergith was taken into custody and was scheduled to appear in Chautauqua Town Court.

According to county health officials, Suboxone is a drug used in treatment of opiate addiction. However, the drug is highly sought after – especially while incarcerated – when heroin and painkillers are not available.

Wednesday’s incident was the second in a week at the County Jail involving the attempted smuggling of Suboxone.

On Aug. 8, Maylee Nunez, 33, of Franklin Street, Jamestown, was charged with felony first-degree promoting prison contraband and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Corrections officers observed Nunez allegedly pass seven strips of Suboxone to Christian O. Opio, 31, of Jamestown.

Opio is an inmate at the jail.

According to a police report, Nunez had her 14-year-old daughter with her during the visit. As a result, she also was charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Sheriff Joe Gerace said New York state law allows contact during visitations at the jail, which he said can lead to attempts of smuggling.

“It’s not unusual for people to attempt to bring contraband into the jail,” Gerace said Wednesday. “Any of this stuff is forbidden, including tobacco. It’s disturbing that this is going on, and we have to be alert.”

The sheriff said corrections officers monitor all activity during visitations; video also captures contact in the jail.

“I have to point to the system,” Gerace said. “They allow contact, which can lead to these attempts. So we try to be as vigilant as possible.”