ARDMORE, Okla. (KFOR) – State agents are investigating after a hidden recording device was found inside a light fixture installed in the Carter County Jail’s attorney room.
“It’s just such a shocking violation of constitutional rights that I didn’t want to believe,” said Jason May, a defense attorney based in Ardmore.
However, after May confirmed the alarming discovery with his own eyes, he was left with zero doubt.
“It was 100% clear what it was,” said May. “You could see that there was a screw that was missing and through the hole you could see a lens and then you could also see the wires underneath the glass portion of the light fixture… It’s upsetting. My clients need to know that what they say to me is confidential.”
“The bugging of an attorney room is a clear violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” added May.
May said he reported his finding to the Attorney General’s Office and days later, went to the attorney room again and saw that the missing screw had been replaced. He added that the wires were still present.
“If it really was an honest mistake and the sheriff was surprised to find it, I don’t know why he would cover up what was there,” said May.
On Wednesday, the Carter County Sheriff, Chris Bryant, sent KFOR the following statement saying in part, “After being made aware of allegations that a recording device was hidden in the attorney client room at the Carter county detention center, the room was checked, and a device was in fact located in the light fixture. The device appeared to be antiquated and not in working condition.”
Bryant added, “After discussing this discovery with my most tenured investigator, he recalled that a former sheriff in 2002 had authorized a recording device to be placed in a light fixture for the limited purpose of a single investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of an attorney, Twana Cherese Smith, for smuggling contraband into the room to provide to her client/son, convicted murderer of Heather Rich and prison escapee, Josh Bagwell, to aid in a planned escape from the Carter County Jail. Smith was charged on March 26, 2002 of Felony Carrying into Jail Things to Aid Escape.”
“She allegedly snuck in a hacksaw blade so that he could try to, I guess, cut his way through the bars to get out of jail,” said May.
In his press release, Bryant said he has no reason to believe the recording device has been used since that particular investigation in 2002. He said on Wednesday morning, he initiated an investigation by the OSBI to confirm this. The recording device was also turned over to the state agents.
“Honestly, even if it’s not being used, the fact that a recording device is present is still a violation of constitutional rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the US Constitution,” said May.
With the sheriff saying the device may have been there since 2002, we asked him, if that was the case, why hadn’t the device been removed at some point during the past two decades, even when the lightbulbs within that fixture went out and had to be changed.
“I can’t answer that… that was four administrations ago,” said Bryant. “It’s not a habit for me to follow the maintenance guys, but once I was made aware of the situation, I acted swiftly.”