Lawyer Accused of Bringing More Than Papers to Jail

Ronald Lewis, 77, is accused of smuggling drug-laced documents to inmates in Texas facility
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2023 10:40 AM CST
Authorities: Lawyer Smuggled Drug-Laced Papers Into Jail
Ronald Lewis.   (Harris County Sheriff's Office via AP)

A good attorney will have your back as you navigate all the legalities of your case. An even better attorney knows that "having your back" doesn't translate to sneaking narcotics into the facility where you're incarcerated. That's exactly what lawyer Ronald Henry Lewis is accused of doing to get illegal drugs to inmates in Texas' largest county jail, and in a most unusual way. The AP reports that the 77-year-old was arrested Friday when he showed up at the Harris County Jail for a prisoner visit, with authorities saying Lewis, an attorney since the early '80s, had nearly a dozen pieces of paperwork laced with illegal drugs.

And they don't think this was Lewis' first time pulling off such a thing, either: At a Monday press conference, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the attorney was actually a "major supplier" of drugs like ecstasy and synthetic marijuana, which Lewis allegedly laced papers with, then distributed at the jail, reports NBC News. Authorities say that between July and November, Lewis visited at least 14 inmates with such papers—often portrayed by Lewis as legal documents—and that he made between $250 and $500 per transaction involving the drug-tinged paperwork.

Lewis' alleged drug smuggling was discovered after a probe that took months, conducted by a new unit called the Criminal Investigations and Security Division, which was formed to look into a spike in drug overdoses at the jail. "We're currently working with the Texas Rangers to determine if any of the narcotics introduced in the jail by Mr. Lewis contributed to the death of any inmate," says Lt. Jay Wheeler, per the AP. Lewis has been hit with two counts of bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility and was released on bonds totaling $15,000 after being arrested. Gonzalez has noted that other attorneys are suspected of similar infractions, though he doesn't think the problem is "widespread." The sheriff's office says it's working on digitizing letters and legal documents that come into the jail to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. (More lawyers stories.)

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