Two Inmates Charged After Fentanyl Found Inside Lewis County Jail

Jan. 20—Two inmates in the Lewis County Jail have been charged for alleged possession of fentanyl after jail staff found paper straws containing the substance on Jan. 17.

A deputy reportedly saw one of the defendants, Lonny Clevenger Jr., walking toward a restroom before turning around and walking toward the other defendant, Ryan Swerland, at his bunk where "it appeared Mr. Swerland handed Mr. Clevenger something," according to court documents. Clevenger then reportedly went into the bathroom.

The deputy stopped and searched Clevenger when he left the bathroom and found "a straw in Mr. Clevenger's right hand containing a residue," which a nurse tested and confirmed was fentanyl.

Clevenger allegedly admitted to snorting a quarter of a fentanyl pill three to four times during his incarceration and reportedly claimed Swerland gave him the pill, according to court documents.

A similar straw with fentanyl residue was located among Swerland's possessions.

When later taken into a separate room to perform a strip search, Swerland allegedly retrieved "a small blue item that looked like the fingertip of a medical glove" from his underwear, which he then threw into the toilet and lunged "in what (the deputy) believed was an attempt to flush the toilet," according to court documents. The deputy reportedly pushed Swerland against the wall, then Swerland allegedly "placed his elbow against (the deputy)'s jaw, shoved him back and managed to flush the toilet," according to court documents.

Swerland reportedly "relaxed" after flushing the toilet.

Jail staff had found alleged controlled substances on Swerland during intake procedures when he was initially booked into the jail on charges of driving under the influence and attempting to elude on Jan. 9, according to Corrections Bureau Chief Chris Sweet.

"However, unfortunately there were still a small quantity that was missed, hidden on (or) in the human body that evaded even the best of intake protocols," he said. "We are fortunate to not have an ongoing problem with controlled substances since the implementation of the body scanner and just good intake search procedure protocols. But again, there are times that contraband gets through when hidden in the body or other means, so it's a constant battle and concern."

Swerland and Clevenger have each been charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance by a prisoner, and Swerland has additionally been charged with third-degree assault.

"I just want to plead guilty to everything today and move to my next chapter," said Swerland during his preliminary appearance hearing on the new charges in Lewis County Superior Court on Jan. 18.

Judge James Lawler did not allow him to enter a plea during the hearing, but Swerland was appointed an attorney and had an arraignment hearing scheduled for 3:15 p.m. on Thursday.

Clevenger's arraignment hearing on the new charge has been scheduled for Jan. 20.