By Terri Jo Neff / Cochise County Record
An inmate work crew from the state prison in Douglas has been suspended from its assignment with the City of Tombstone following the arrest of a longtime city employee for promoting prison contraband.
Bruce “Auggie” Lesko was arrested by the Tombstone Marshal’s Office on April 6 after the synthetic drug Spice was discovered in Lesko’s work area at the city’s public works building.
Marshal Bob Randall described the Spice as being “prepared for smuggling.” He noted that Tombstone deputies also found items related to smuggling, as well as tattoo ink and tools. The items, according to Randall, were “hidden in an attempt to conceal them from discovery.”
Lesko, age 64, is facing five counts related to prison contraband, as well as one count each of possession of a possession of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. All the charges are felonies. He was released from the Cochise County jail April 8 after posting a $10,000 bond set by Justice of the Peace Adam Ambrose.
According to Randall, deputies were called to the public works facility April 5 where they recovered two packages of Spice discovered by prison work crew supervisors. Spice, which is also known as fake weed, synthetic marijuana, and K2, is manufactured by mixing herbs and spices with a synthetic compound similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It is a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act, the same category as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
The next day the city building was searched more thoroughly. A K9 unit from the prison alerted to a tool box belonging Lesko, who has worked as a general laborer for the City since May 2004. Additional Spice was recovered, along with a used hypodermic needle and medical gloves.
Authorities executed a search warrant of Lesko’s home in Tombstone, which led to the seizure of more than 34 grams of Spice. They also found additional items “consistent with drug smuggling activity,” said Randall, who noted Lesko was mentioned “as a suspect in past occurrences” of contraband smuggling.
Lesko’s next court appearance is set for April 27 but that could change if the Cochise County Attorney’s Office pursues a grand jury indictment or additional charges are brought forth. He is being represented by deputy legal defender Harry Moore.
Several cities across the state contract for prisoner work crews. Tombstone has utilized inmate crews from Douglas for a decade. According to Arizona Dept. of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreux, “preventing the importation of illegal contraband is a critical priority” for the state prison system.
The inmates are subject to searches leaving and returning to the prison, and are under supervision of an ADC guard-driver and a municipal employee. The contracts also permit ADC to perform unannounced searches of city facilities, equipment, and storage areas.
Lamoreux explained that ADC investigators are cooperating with the Tombstone Marshal’s Office, which is the lead agency on the case. However, he declined to comment on whether any inmates or ADC staff have been accused of violating internal policies, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.
One year ago, a different inmate crew from the Douglas prison was suspended from its job with Cochise County for several days. In that April 2016 incident, a routine search uncovered cell phones at the Sierra Vista Transfer Station near an area frequented by the prisoners. An investigation revealed the inmates had not utilized the phones and were not aware the phones were nearby.
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