FINDLEY TOWNSHIP – A prison guard at SCI Mercer is accused of smuggling drugs into the state prison and having a sexual relationship with an inmate.

Tasha Lynn Vinson, 44, of 6 Chestnut St., Stoneboro, was charged with possession with intent to deliver, contraband or controlled substance, institutional sexual assault and possession of a controlled substance. 

Police said the charges stem from alleged incidents between August 2019 and May 4, 2020, at the State Correctional Institution Mercer, 801 Butler Pike Road, Findley Township.

During a search May 11 of inmates’ cells, prison staff discovered a large amount of K2 synthetic cannabinoid and contacted state police to investigate. According to a criminal complaint, police found that the contraband was brought into SCI Mercer by Vinson, a corrections officer.

An inmate, Dayvon Marqui Cox, told police that he and Vinson had been in a relationship, and over the course of several months, he and Vinson had engaged in sexual contact.

Cox provided identifying characteristics, including tattoos Vinson had in intimate places, according to the criminal complaint. He also said that the pair engaged in sexual contact in his cell and an office on his cell block during Vinson’s shift as a corrections officer.

The sexual encounters took place from mid-to-late summer of 2019 and continued until about two weeks ago, police said.

Cox told police that he and Vinson talked about being together once he got out of prison, and he asked her to bring in some synthetic cannabinoid into the prison to make money. 

He said she did a “dry” run in February or March and then a few weeks later, she brought the contraband in. After that, police said Vinson brought Cox three sheets of K2 in an envelope with an estimated value of $50,000 to $60,000.

Vinson was arraigned Monday before District Judge Daniel W. Davis and taken to Mercer County Jail. She posted a $25,000 bond the next day.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 28 in before Davis. 

Follow Melissa Klaric on Twitter and Facebook @HeraldKlaric, email: mklaric@sharonherald.com

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