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DUBLIN, GA:  A Georgia Department of Corrections officer and her convicted-felon boyfriend were sentenced to federal prison for possession of drugs packaged for smuggling into prison.

Lekesia Lashea Harden, 23, of Dublin, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 10 years in prison by Judge Dudley H. Bowen, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. A jury in October 2019 convicted Harden on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Methamphetamine after a two-day trial. Tremayne O. Linder, 31, of Dublin, who pled guilty to the same charge, previously was also sentenced to 10 years in prison. After completion of their prison terms, Harden must serve five years on supervised release, and Linder must serve three years. There is no parole in the federal system.

“As a correctional officer, Lakesia Harden knew what she was doing when she engaged in drug trafficking and associated with Tremayne Linder, a convicted felon,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “Both of them will now spend substantial time in federal prison for their crimes.”

According to court documents and testimony, Harden worked as a correctional officer for the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) at Wheeler Correctional Facility, a medium-security, privately owned state prison in Alamo, Ga. Linder was on probation for a felony conviction on state charges when officers from the Dublin Police Department and Georgia Department of Community Supervision visited Harden and Linder’s residence April 9, 2018, to serve Linder with an arrest warrant for failing to complete the requirements of probation.

During a search of the residence, officers found 12 small packages, two of them containing methamphetamine and 10 containing marijuana. The marijuana was wrapped in electrical tape with some of the packages containing rolling papers, evidence that the material was packaged for smuggling into prison.

“Harden’s crime taints every law enforcement officer who takes an oath to uphold the law,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “She chose her relationship with a convicted felon over her oath and now she, too, is a convicted felon and will be held accountable along with her associate, convicted felon Tremayne Linder.”

 “The GDC maintains a zero-tolerance policy for individuals who choose to ignore their oath and jeopardize our non-negotiable mission of public safety. We appreciate the support of our federal partners in our efforts to see that justice is served on this former officer,” said GDC Commissioner Timothy C. Ward. “The actions of this individual do not reflect the hundreds of officers who are committed each and every day to ensuring the safety of the public and the safe operations of our facilities.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Dublin Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Marchman and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hank Syms.

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