Sheriff's deputy arrested after telling investigators he smuggled phones into jail

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By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer |

An Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy was arrested this weekend and charged with three counts each of possession of contraband and malfeasance in office after admitting that he brought cell phones into the jail for use by prisoners on three separate occasions.

The deputy’s arrest comes after District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro told The Times-Picayune newspaper last month that Telly Hankton, described by police as one of the city’s most dangerous criminals, had become too cozy a prisoner at Orleans Parish Prison. Cannizzaro said the FBI was concerned that Hankton had managed to relay messages to associates, possibly through sheriff’s deputies.

Michael Conerly

Cannizzaro’s office declined to expand on that reported claim this morning, and a spokesman for Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman did not respond to a request for comment.

Deputy Michael Conerly admitted bringing a cell phone into the House of Detention for use by inmate Larenzo “Woodie” Peters on Saturday, according to information prepared by Gusman’s office for Conerly’s arraignment.

The Lens couldn’t immediately determine why Peters was being held; Gusman’s website would normally contain information on all prisoners, but nothing came up on a search for Peters.

Conerly’s bond was set at $15,000, and he was released from jail in the early hours of this morning after posting a  bond.

Watch commander Sgt. William Holmes spotted a silver Boost Mobile cellphone and black charger in the left pocket of Conerly’s black jacket, hanging in the office, according to court records.

“Deputy Conerly admitted he brought the phone in the jail for inmate Larenzo “Woodie” Peters,” wrote investigating Deputy Earnest Newman. “Deputy Conerly also admitted he has brought in cellular telephones in the jail on two other occasions.”

Gusman’s spokesman, Marc Ehrhardt, told the Times-Picayune in October that Cannizzaro’s claim about prisoners getting cozy at Gusman’s jail was “irresponsible.”

Update, November 29: Gusman’s office told The Times-Picayune that the inmate was not Larenzo “Woodie” Peters, but Alonzo Peters, 21, who records show is jailed on a charge of heroin possession with intent to distribute.

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