FDLE investigation results in arrest of corrections officer

OKEECHOBEE — On March 26, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) agents arrested Arthur William Wade Woodruff, 21, Northwest 63rd Terrace, Okeechobee, on felony charges of official misconduct and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery on a detainee. Woodruff was a correctional officer with Okeechobee Correctional Institution (OCI).

According to the FDLE report, FDLE agents began investigating Woodruff in December 2017 at the request of the Department of Corrections (DOC) Office of Inspector General. The investigation alleges that Woodruff was conspiring with inmates to commit aggravated battery or murder of another inmate. Agents believe Woodruff committed these actions because he supposedly feared being exposed by the targeted inmate for bringing in contraband. By failing to report the incidents and not making any attempt to stop the ongoing plot, Woodruff endangered the lives of the inmates and staff members at the prison, the FDLE report alleges.

Arthur William Woodruff

Woodruff was originally arrested in Sebring and booked into the Highlands County Jail before being transferred to the Okeechobee County Jail. Woodruff was subsequently arrested March 27 by Deputy DeMarcus Dixon, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), on an Okeechobee County felony warrant charging him on the aforementioned charges and booked into the Okeechobee County Jail.

The conclusion of the investigation reported by FDLE stated, 1) that Woodruff apparently had two separate meetings with inmates on or about Dec. 24, 2017, to discuss and orchestrate the “wipe down,” which according to the confidential informant (CI) is a prison term for a “hit” or murder, of inmate Morris while employed as a corrections officer for the State of Florida, and 2) that Woodruff supposedly “tipped off” an inmate when “shakedowns” were to occur which created an officer safety situation for the OCI staff.

Woodruff then apparently further colluded with inmates in regards of a conspiracy to commit aggravated battery on a detainee and through his own actions, failed to report the incidents nor made any attempt to stop the ongoing conspiracy, endangering the life of inmates and staff members at OCI.

According to the FDLE arrest report, the Sebring field office was notified on Dec. 27, 2017 by Florida DOC Inspector George Montenegro of a possible conspiracy to commit murder that involved an OCI officer. An inmate acted as a CI for law enforcement who claimed Woodruff – a corrections officer – supposedly sanctioned a “wipe down” to occur after the Christmas holidays. Agents from the Sebring field office debriefed the CI that same day.

The CI said that on Dec. 24, 2017, an inmate known as “Georgia Boy” along with Woodruff supposedly approached him and asked him to participate in a “wipe down” of an inmate identified as Richard Morris. The “wipe down” was apparently due to an alleged complaint or, “kite,” that was sent supposedly exposing Woodruff and another inmate for the introduction of contraband into the prison facility. The CI reportedly told agents that Woodruff – known by inmates as “Too Cool” – was supposedly going to pay him with a cellular telephone for the “wipe down.” Special Agent Steven Harris presented a photograph of Woodruff to the CI, who apparently positively identified him as the corrections officer known as “Too Cool.”

The report continued, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, Special Agents Harris and Kevin Sapp met with the CI in a secured area at OCI to perform a controlled meet. According to The Detective’s Handbook, a controlled meet is when a person cooperating with law enforcement meets with the alleged suspect in a controlled environment and will have a nondescript device that will record the conversation. Special Agent Harris activated the covert audio/video recording device and installed it on the CI, who was instructed not to touch it. The CI was then told to make contact with Woodruff and to discuss the “wipe down.” Special Agents reviewed the audio/video recording and noted that the CI was heard calling for “Too Cool” and later supposedly approached Woodruff who was standing with other OCI personnel.

The CI reportedly discussed inmate Morris with Woodruff, who was referred to as, “the dude in the kitchen.” Woodruff then confirmed that Morris wrote the “kite.” The CI apparently told Woodruff that Morris was, “about to have a bad weekend and be off the compound,” with Woodruff observed via video as shaking his head “yes” in acknowledgment.

Special agents then reportedly conducted an interview with Woodruff who explained that he was assigned to the food service area of the facility and that part of his responsibilities was the care, custody and control of the inmates. According to the report Woodruff stated that he had a good relationship with the inmates under his supervision and that he considered himself a good employee. Woodruff apparently stated in the report that staff members were allowed to bring in one can of chewing tobacco and one package of cigarettes for personal use. He supposedly continued that a can of chewing tobacco sold for $50 on the compound, but added that he would never risk his life or career by bringing contraband into the facility.

At approximately 11:45 a.m. Special Agent Harris read Woodruff his Miranda Warning, who supposedly acknowledged that he understood verbally.

The report stated that Woodruff denied supplying any contraband to inmates and apparently continued to deny bringing in or assisting other staff members with the introduction of contraband into OCI. Woodruff supposedly replied he did not recall discussing having Morris “wiped” when confronted about the recordings with the CI.

Woodruff was then apparently shown a picture of himself taken during the controlled meet and was informed the meeting was audio and video recorded. When asked if the statements made about having Morris “wiped” were in jest, Woodruff reportedly continued to deny meeting or discussing the “wipe” of Morris.

Per the report, Woodruff then explained that an inmate asked him if Morris was the person who sent the “kite” about the contraband, to which he supposedly confirmed to the inmate.
The case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 19th Judicial Circuit.

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