It was from a prison investigator who had found the cellphone, an illegal item within the prison, who was trying to determine who had given the cell phone to the inmate.
On Tuesday, July 12, Richardson pleaded guilty to the charge of providing a prohibited item in a correctional facility and was sentenced to five years deferred adjudication and a $500 fine. She entered her plea to Judge Janna Whatley.
The events that transpired actually began on July 2, 2008.
An officer in the mail room of the McConnell Unit reported that he found a cellphone operations manual inclosed in a letter to inmate David Rentz. The 42-year-old inmate is serving a 65-year sentence on an aggravated robbery conviction out of DeWitt County.
Prison officials found the cellphone, a Nokia, inside of Rentz’s cell.
About 12:30 p.m., one investigator was examining it when a message came through.
“9:34 a.m. Angel Cell,” the phone displayed.
The investigator wrote in her report, “At this time, in an attempt to determine the identity of the individual corresponding with offender Rentz by cellphone text message, I sent the following text message to the last incoming number... ‘I am in trouble.’”
The response came quickly. “Why?”
“The police R looking for phones. Is there anyway they can trace mine if they find it. I got the info in the mail today,” the investigator typed.
“Sim card,” the response came.
“Will it show a name on the account,” the investigator typed.
The conversation continued as the investigator pretended to be Rentz.
“Call Investigator Poole 4 help,” the investigator wrote.
“Call Ms. Poole at McConnell. Other dudes R snitching. Try not 2 worry.”
The response: “Who is Poole?”
“Investigator. Tell her who you R. Tell her I wrote you and said I was being set up over a phone that is not mine. Tell her you are worried. That may take the heat off of me. I have 2 get rid of this for a few days. Hurry and call Ms. Poole.”
The response: “Honey, don’t get hurt. Please I will call her. I am worried for you.”
Richardson, according to case information, did as she said she would and told this story to the investigator.
Then another text comes onto the cell phone.
“I did it... Baby I love you. I pray your safe... Always your Ang.”
The next day the investigator again calls Richardson requesting a fax of the letter she claimed Rentz wrote that others were framing him.
It was also then that the investigator told Richardson that it was the officer she was texting the day before, and not Rentz.
The phone was disconnected that day.
This is the second time within a month that prosecutors have accepted a plea from a person who admitted to giving a cell phone to an inmate.
Barbara Michelle Gonzales has accepted a plea offer of 10 years probation and a $1,000 fine on the charge of possession of a prohibited substance in a correctional facility. She is expected to appear again before Judge Joel Johnson for sentencing.
Gonzales, according to court records, was attempting to sneak two cell phones in to the prison for her brother on March 6.
The phones were found when her brother, Orlando Gonzales, was searched after a visitation with his sister.
“She verbally admitted to (an investigator) that she brought in the cell phones to her brother, offender Gonzales,” a prison officer wrote in a report included in the case file.
When questioned how she was able to sneak the phones into the prison, the woman said she concealed them inside her spandex pants.
During questioning, the woman added, “My brother kept asking me to bring the phones, but I kept telling him no, until I finally gave in and said yes,” she told the investigator at the prison.
Her brother told another investigator, “I was going to sell the phones for $800 to $900.”
Her brother is serving a 15-year sentence at McConnell on an aggravated robbery conviction out of Harris County.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.