On December 9, 2022 Detectives Kim Lippincott and Amanda Boyd of the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division launched an investigation after receiving information that female inmates tested positive for methamphetamine in the Monroe County Correctional Facility.
The information received by detectives indicated that Ashley Wheelis, 33, brought methamphetamine and crack cocaine into the correctional facility and then sold it to other inmates.
On Friday, December 9, 2022, detectives responded to the correctional facility with the Pennsylvania State Police and a drug-sniffing dog. The K9 officer conducted a search of the female unit and all female inmates were interviewed by detectives. Most of the inmates provided statements. A total of 33 interviews were completed by detectives.
The investigation led to the arrests of the following individuals:
- ASHLEY WHEELIS, 33
- OLIVIA RIVERA, 36
- KIMBERLY GRZECH, 50
- CHELSEA SIMONS, 29
- BRITTANY AKERS, 29
- JOLENE GAMBARDELLA, 41
- AMANDA PETRIZZO, 37
During the interviews detectives learned that Wheelis had smuggled 7 grams of methamphetamine and 7 grams of crack cocaine into the facility in her vagina after being arrested by Monroe County Probation when she tested positive for controlled substances during a meeting with her probation officer.
Once she successfully smuggled the drugs into the facility and was placed on the female unit, she began distributing them to other female inmates.
Corrections Officers caught wind of this after Olivia Rivera approached one of the officers stating that she had a confession to make. Rivera told corrections officers that she had a small baggie of drugs in her cell. The officers began performing urine drug screens on inmates and did a thorough search of the unit. A small baggie containing a white powdery substance was recovered.
All of the women charged tested positive for methamphetamine. All of them had been incarcerated for a lengthy period of time indicating that they acquired drugs and used them while incarcerated.
Wheelis and Rivera have both been charged with possessing and distributing controlled substance contraband in the prison. Both offenses are second degree felonies which carry stiff penalties, including a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years of confinement.
Grzech, Simmons, Akers, Gambardella, and Petrizzo are all charged with one count of possession of controlled substance contraband by an inmate, which is also a felony of the second degree.
Charges were filed with Magisterial District Judge Paul Gasper and the defendants will appear in court at a later date.