Inmate, fiancée broke prisoners out of Atlanta pen, took them to restaurants, hotels, officials say

Prison officials survey the grounds of the Federal Penitentiary in southeast Atlanta. (JOHN SPINK/ jspink@ajc.com/ 2011 file photo)

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Prison officials survey the grounds of the Federal Penitentiary in southeast Atlanta. (JOHN SPINK/ jspink@ajc.com/ 2011 file photo)

A DeKalb County couple, one of whom is an inmate, connected to a series of prison breakouts in southeast Atlanta have plead guilty to helping inmates escape and taking them to restaurants, hotels or homes in exchange for money.

Deldrick D. Jackson, 41, and fiancée Kelly M. Bass, 38, received roughly $4,000 from inmates they helped escaped from the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta between November 2016 and April, U.S. District Attorney John Horn said.

Jackson was already serving 10 years and 10 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and money laundering when authorities arrested him and Bass. He pleaded guilty to one count conspiring to escape from federal custody last month.

The couple were caught after Bass picked up Jackson from prison and drove him to a fast food restaurant. Authorities found two cell phones, 83 packs of cigarettes, and eight bottles of Canadian whiskey in the SUV.

The two have not been sentenced in the prison breakout scheme, which was just a larger part of a federal investigation into similar incidents at the same penitentiary.

According to a federal criminal complaint filed in February, inmates from the low-security prison have been slipping through holes cut in the chain link fence that separate the institution from neighboring business, homes and apartment complexes, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. The prisoners, all drug offenders, have returned to the prison camp.

One inmate, Justin Stinson, 35, was arrested in February after federal officials discovered him climbing through a hole near the prison fence and getting a large black duffle bag from someone inside a car on New Town Circle. Authorities recovered a cell phone, two scissors, Jose Cuervo tequila, cigarettes, cigars and food.

Stinton, who had been in prison since March 2015 after pleading guilty to a weapons charge, was assigned to the Atlanta penitentiary from August 2016 to February 2017.

He pleaded guilty to one count escaping from federal custody and was sentenced to an additional year and three months in prison, to be served after his current term.

Nearly a month ago, officials arrested Fernando Settles after he escaped the prison with a cellphone and two empty duffle bags. He was in the penitentiary serving 20 years for drug trafficking charges.

Shortly after Settles’ escape, Darlene Drew retired from her post as warden after 32 years with the federal Bureau of Prisons. She’d been at the prison for more than four years.

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— Staff writer Rhonda Cook contributed to this article.