CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman was arrested for allegedly creating fake attorney documents so she could smuggle drugs into the Kent County jail, investigators say.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said a local attorney got a suspicious piece of mail on April 27. The letter, which had the attorney’s name on it, was returned to sender because the inmate to which it was addressed was no longer in the jail.
But the attorney never sent the package.
“(The attorney) didn’t recognize it and it didn’t look exactly like their packaging or their letterhead,” Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said.
The attorney contacted the sheriff’s office. Inside the package were strips of Suboxone, an opioid, court records show.
Court records show that Shannon Soltys, 51, admitted in a phone call to another inmate at the jail that she sent the package.
Investigators say she was forging mail as if it were from attorneys and using attorney-client privilege to smuggle drugs into the jail. The sheriff explained that the jail does search mail from attorneys for contraband but must do so in the presence of the inmate. Since the inmate in this case wasn’t at the jail anymore, the package was returned to the sender.
On May 9, the Kent Area Narcotics Team searched Soltys’ home on Trenton Avenue in Cedar Springs. Inside, they found methamphetamine, fentanyl and analogues in Soltys’s bedroom, court records show, as well as digital scales and materials to package drugs. The sheriff’s office said a total of six people, including Soltys, were arrested on drug and firearm charges.
Investigators say Soltys admitted to them that she sent two packages containing a total of 10 strips of Suboxone to an inmate.
She faces five criminal counts: delivery of meth (a 20-year felony), possession of narcotics (four-year felony), possession of analogues (two-year felony), furnishing contraband to prisoners (five-year felony) and maintaining a drug house (two-year high misdemeanor).
The sheriff said the effort to keep drugs out of the jail is a nonstop battle.
“It’s obviously a very serious charge because it threatens the safety of the correctional facility,” LaJoye-Young said. “We’re responsible to keep (inmates) safe and a big threat to the safety of somebody that’s incarcerated is receiving narcotics from the outside.”
The sheriff praised the attorney for calling police.
“To pay attention to something that doesn’t look right and reach out and tell somebody this happened and it might be important, it was pretty key to resolving this case and we appreciate the vigilance of that attorney,” she said.
She said inmates at the jail often struggle with some form of substance abuse and the jail provides treatment.
“Recovery from substance use is a journey. It’s not a task. It doesn’t happen one time and then sustain you,” LaJoye-Young said. “Often, we find that individuals along this journey have setbacks, need additional counseling, additional treatment and many of them are on medication to assist their recovery.”
—News 8’s Kyle Mitchell contributed to this report.