Drug deal, contraband ring uncovered in local jail; grand jury indicts 24 people

A grand jury has indicted nearly 30 people associated with the Fayette County government and jail, in what is being called Operation Clean Sweep.

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The sweep unveiled some of the deepest roots of corruption at the Fayette County Jail and inside the courthouse.

District Attorney Rich Bower said a grand jury investigation that started late last year led to 30 indictments and 24 people being charged.

The 30 indictments include:

  • Nine inmates
  • Four corrections officers
  • Deputy warden
  • Law clerk
  • Assistant to court administrator

“This is a deep-seated problem and, very bluntly, the corruption that has gone here has gone unchecked for many years,” Bower said.

Police said they uncovered drugs moving in and out of the county jail at the hands of inmates, relatives and jail guards.

They said Deputy Warden Michael Zavada is charged with providing a cell phone to an inmate, which aided in the movement of drugs inside, such as K2, suboxone and Xanax. Those drugs were coming in from the outside.

“The defendant Heather Cornish walked down the street pushing her little baby in a baby carriage and took her to a drug deal,” Bower said.

Across the street, two courthouse employees were fired over allegations of falsifying documents, according to investigators.

Police said Ryan Marshall helped fellow courthouse employee Tammy Cable's relatives steal thousands of dollars from an elderly couple.

“It is very sad for all of us standing up here to think we had to work with people that have violated all of our trust, that have violated their sworn duties to uphold their constitution of Pennsylvania and the laws of the commonwealth,” Bower said.

Not all of the suspects are in custody at this point. Bower said that this is because Operation Clean Sweep resulted in two further federal investigations.

The investigation uncovered a drug deal ring and contraband operation inside and outside of the Fayette County Jail, Fayette County District Attorney Rich Bower announced during a news conference Thursday.

“We never had any clue how deep the corruption was that we were going to find,” Bower said of the investigation, which ultimately resulted in two federal investigations.