Ex-Telford Officer Pleads Not Guilty To Bribery, Child Porn Charges

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TEXARKANA, Texas–A former correctional officer accused of accepting money in exchange for contraband at the Telford Unit in New Boston entered not guilty pleas to a list of felony charges on Tuesday at a hearing in Texarkana.

Ki-Jona Hayvin Wells, 25, of Idabel, Oklahoma, appeared with Texarkana attorney Shorty Barrett for arraignment before 102nd District Judge Jeff Addison. Wells entered pleas of not guilty to four counts of possession of child pornography, two counts of bribery and two counts of prohibited items in a correctional facility.

Investigators with the Texas Office of the Inspector General based at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice BarryTelford Unit launched an investigation in May after finding a prohibited cell phone in an inmate’s cell which allegedly contained text message threads with Wells, according to a probable cause affidavit. Wells and the inmate allegedly discussed moving contraband into the prison in exchange for money that Wells would pick up from the inmate’s “baby” outside the prison.

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Investigators searched Wells’ gray 2012 F-150 early on the morning of Sept. 14, 2022, while it was parked at the prison and seized an iPhone from inside, the affidavit said.

A forensic examination of the device allegedly revealed four videos depicting the sexual exploitation of children under the age of 8 by adult men and a woman. Wells was arrested Nov. 9 on four counts of possession of child pornography. The bribery and contraband charges were added later.

A second former correctional officer who allegedly quit in December 2021 after being confronted by prison administration about an inappropriate relationship with an inmate has also been charged in the case. Candra Jimese Gray, 26, allegedly met Wells at a location between his home in Idabel and her’s in Clarksville, Texas, to give him money and contraband on behalf of an inmate.

Gray is currently free on a $50,000 bond. Wells is currently being held in the Bowie County jail with bail set at $550,000.

The bribery charges are punishable by two to 20 years in prison. Wells faces two to ten years on each of the four pornography possession and contraband charges if found guilty.

Wells is scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing next month. Assistant District Attorney Bradley Akins is representing the state.

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