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Prison inmate running contraband operation sentenced

Inmate: Cody Robert Whitten #149298

An inmate at the state prison in Calico Rock caught smuggling contraband obtained on work details in Mountain Home into the facility has pled guilty to the charges against him. The plea came during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.

Thirty-three-year-old Cody Robert Whitten of Ozark made his appearance by way of a video hookup. He was sentenced to five years in prison to run concurrent with the time he is already serving.

Whitten entered the prison system in August 2017 after being sentenced to 35-years for shooting a man in the head and killing him.

The shooting occurred in August 2016. Initially, Whitten did not deny he was involved in the shooting, but told several versions of how the victim was killed. At one point, he told investigators he and the victim were tossing the gun back and forth when it went off. Whitten admitted the gun was in his hand at the time of the shooting.

While an inmate in the North Central Unit at Calico Rock, Whitten was assigned to work crews responsible for cleaning city-owned park property in Mountain Home.

Prison officials reported receiving information that prohibited items were being brought into the facility by inmates who were coming to Mountain Home to work.

In late October last year, corrections officers searched areas accessible to the crew, while they were in Mountain Home.

They discovered a large number of items in a shed used by the prisoners, including cellphones and chargers for the devices and five individually wrapped bundles and a full can of smokeless tobacco.

All of the items were concealed in two portable water containers.

During questioning, Whitten admitted to ownership of all the items and told investigators another inmate, who had been working with him on the day the items were found, was not involved in his smuggling operation.

Whitten is said to have admitted he used the cellphones to set up “tobacco drops.” He said he sneaked prohibited items inside the prison and sold them to other inmates, in order to provide him with greater purchasing power at the commissary.

There is no elaboration in the probable cause affidavit as to how Whitten was able to sneak the contraband items past guards at the prison when returning from work assignments.

Whitten said he had an unidentified person bring the cellphone to him at an area where he was working in Mountain home. He said he then used the phone to contact that individual to arrange the tobacco drops.

The inmate working with Whitten on the Mountain Home work crew told investigators Whitten apologized to him on the way back to the prison for getting the man in trouble over something he had nothing to do with.

Whitten remains an inmate in the North Central Unit, according to the ADC Inmate Search website.