Former prison guards accused of smuggling cell phones to convicted murderer

Kevin Brower (Photo: N.C. Department Of Public Safety)
Kevin Brower (Photo: N.C. Department Of Public Safety)

WINDSOR, N.C. (WAVY) – Three former corrections officers face felony charges for working with an inmate to smuggle cell phone watches into Bertie Correctional Institution over a 10-month period.

Inmate Kevin Brower, a convicted murderer, will also be charged with a felony, according to Detective Sergeant Justin Jackson, who led Windsor Police Department’s investigation.

Kevin Brower (Photo: N.C. Department Of Public Safety)
Kevin Brower (Photo: N.C. Department Of Public Safety)

Jackson began investigating in September, when prison officials brought the department names of corrections officers they believed to be involved.

Ashley Shuler, of Aulander, had already resigned on August 20, before the investigation began.

Annelies Loos, of Greenville, resigned September 15, and Kimberly Holley, of Edenton, resigned September 20.

It’s not clear whether they resigned because of the investigation, according to Keith Acree, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Corrections.

Prison officials transferred Brower from Bertie to Marion Correctional Institution on September 14, where Acree said he is being held in “restrictive housing,” away from the general population and in a cell by himself.

Acree could not say whether the transfer or separation are connected to the investigation.

Brower already has a long list of infractions, ranging from disobeying orders to gang involvement and assaulting a staff member, according to his corrections record. He had also been disciplined previously for having an audio-visual device, although records do not show whether or not that was a phone.

Keeping cell phones out of prisons is “probably the biggest issue for the corrections industry in the last decade,” according to Acree.

Windsor Police Chief Todd Lane concurred, but said this case is different because of the involvement of corrections officers.

Of the phones smuggled into the facility, 14 have been recovered, but none of them had been activated, according to Jackson.

Shuler did not respond to a request for comment, but her mother, Joy Lee spoke to 10 On Your Side on the phone.

“When it’s all said and done, she’s going to be cleared, that’s the truth,” she said. “My daughter has never taken anything in. She said that, and I believe that.”

Lee blamed the accusations against her daughter on her former managers at the correctional facility, and on dishonesty within the Windsor Police Department.

Holley and Loos could not be reached for comment. Brower is not allowed to do phone interviews from prison.