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Attorney calls for federal investigation into Hancock Co. Corrections following voicemail controversy

Hancock County Corrections Voicemail
Posted at 5:00 PM, May 25, 2023

WARNING: The story below contains language that may be offensive to some readers.

HANCOCK COUNTY — A new push is underway for a federal investigation into Hancock County Community Corrections.

It’s an update to a story WRTV Investigates brought you earlier this monthafter three officers were caught on tape, talking about a Cumberland man under their supervision, in a profanity-laced voicemail.

Our story has received thousands of Facebook comments, and many people want to know two things—why the employees heard on the recording still have jobs with Hancock County and whether the officers have acted inappropriately with other people under their supervision.

Terrance Kinnard is a civil and criminal attorney based in Indianapolis.

He represents Ja’Michael Bryant, a Cumberland man who received a profanity-filled voicemail from Hancock County Community Corrections while serving a home detention sentence for dealing marijuana.

"I was shocked,” said Kinnard. “You always hear these things occur but you’re always skeptical. You don’t want to believe that people are that nefarious.”

Three Community Corrections employees at the time— Daniel Devoy, Thomas Smith, and Nicole Raffaelli—can be heard talking about Ja’Michael Bryant and his home.

THE FOLLOWING ARE TRANSCRIPTION EXCERPTS FROM THE RECORDING

Little thuggy.
Little motherf**ker.
Little thuggy
Yeah, so he pissed me off.
So, I want to go get in his ass.
Is he, he…Wonder why he's not at work.
I said I don't know.
Where does he work at even?
He works for his mother.
And…Oh, he's a janitor or something isn't he
.Actually, he picks up stuff for a house that has a bunch of people…Because his mother runs a daycare for adults that are unable to take care of themselves. So, she hires him.
He goes picks up…
He's her b**ch.
He'll go to Taco Bell. Pick up all the Taco Bell. Because every day they want to get something different to eat.He probably lays in bed until mom calls him and says hey…
Yep. Time to go to work.
I need you to go to Walgreens and pick up diapers for this guy that’s here.
He doesn't go to work (Inaudible) leave around…I want to say 10 o'clock.
He's got it made then.
Yeah, f**k this guy.
F**k this guy.
That f**king pisses me off.
F**k this guy.You want to run over there and see this b**ch real quick?
Um hm.
It's not that far.

Terrance Kinnard says the U.S. Department of Justice should investigate whether the employees mistreated other defendants in Hancock County.

"The most significant issue is the question of - how deep does the well go?” said Kinnard. “How many individuals were adversely affected simply because of their race or gender at the hands of individuals like this. And how much of this attitude has the organization adopted and for how long?"

In November 2022, Bryant was convicted of dealing marijuana and sentenced to a year and a half on Hancock County Community Corrections Home Detention.

Community Corrections is an alternative to prison and jail where offenders can serve out their sentence on work release or home detention.

Kinnard filed a federal lawsuit on May 19 against the Hancock County Board of Commissioners, as well as the three employees heard on the recording-- Daniel Devoy, Thomas Smith, and Nicole Raffaelli.

Kinnard emphasized Community Corrections officers have the power to find someone is in violation of their sentence and recommend to the judge they go to jail or prison.

"These are men and women who have supervision and control over a person's life and freedom,” said Kinnard.

The lawsuit alleges Community Corrections wrongly accused Bryant of tampering with his ankle monitor and says Devoy prevented Bryant from working for several days, which resulted in Bryant getting behind on his corrections fees.

“Community Corrections filed a violation against Mr. Bryant after he was unable to keep up with the payments due to the income loss caused by Mr. Devoy,” read the lawsuit.

The federal lawsuit alleges Bryant experienced a “relentless campaign of harassment” even before the voicemail.

The lawsuit also accuses Hancock County of violating Bryant’s civil rights and allowing a “deep-rooted culture of racism.”

“We filed the lawsuit because there was an egregious wrong that was done here,” said Kinnard. “Not only are they supervising him, they have control over his life and they actually made other decisions that weren't recorded that we can look back on and interpret what their intent was."

The three employees heard on the voicemail, Devoy, Smith and Raffaelli, received a written reprimand.

Smith and Raffaelli still work for Hancock County Community Corrections.

WRTV Investigates has learned they could receive $1,700 raises in 2024.

“It's almost as if they're getting rewarded for this kind of behavior,” said Kinnard.

The Hancock County Council approved county-wide raises of up to $1,700 per person.

It’s up to department heads to decide which employees receive raises, and if so, how much.

Community Corrections Executive Director Wade Kennedy will determine whether Tom Smith and Nicole Raffaelli receive raises, according to a council member.

WRTV Investigates emailed Kennedy and stopped by the office, but we are still waiting to hear back.

As for Daniel Devoy, he retired from Community Corrections on May 1 and is now working for the jail part-time, which makes him ineligible for a raise.

Kinnard says all three employees should be fired.

“They kept their jobs,” aid Kinnard. “They kept their pay. They were left in charge of other individuals."

The Hancock County Commissioners investigated but took no action.

PREVIOUS | Hancock County Corrections Officers disciplined for profanity-laced voicemail

Kinnard said the Hancock County Commissioners need to do a broader investigation into the officers’ conduct.

THE FOLLOWING ARE TRANSCRIPTION EXCERPTS FROM THE RECORDING

Little thuggy.
Little motherf**ker.
Little thuggy
Yeah, so he pissed me off.
So, I want to go get in his ass.
Is he, he…Wonder why he's not at work.
I said I don't know.
Where does he work at even?
He works for his mother.
And…Oh, he's a janitor or something isn't he
Actually, he picks up stuff for a house that has a bunch of people…Because his mother runs a daycare for adults that are unable to take care of themselves. So, she hires him.
He goes picks up…
He's her b**ch.
He'll go to Taco Bell. Pick up all the Taco Bell. Because every day they want to get something different to eat.He probably lays in bed until mom calls him and says hey…
Yep. Time to go to work.
I need you to go to Walgreens and pick up diapers for this guy that’s here.
He doesn't go to work (Inaudible) leave around…I want to say 10 o'clock.
He's got it made then.
Yeah, f**k this guy.
F**k this guy.
That f**king pisses me off.
F**k this guy.You want to run over there and see this b**ch real quick?
Um hm.
It's not that far.

You can hear the full voicemail in the video player below.
WARNING: The audio below contains explicit language which may be offensive to some viewers.

WRTV contacted the United States Department of Justice, and we are still waiting for a response.

We also contacted the FBI, and a spokesperson told us, “Per policy, the FBI does not confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of federal investigations."

As for the federal lawsuit, an attorney for the Hancock County Commissioners said they do not comment on pending litigation.

“However, I can say that the County Commissioners are not through reviewing this matter given the allegations of the lawsuit, and some of the reported information,” said attorney Scott Benkie in an email to WRTV.