MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — A Martin County corrections deputy is being praised for not only keeping order inside the walls of the jail but potentially thwarting a crime in the community.
The sheriff's office said the deputy uncovered a written note by an inmate who was trying to intimidate witnesses to his crime. The discovery will keep that inmate behind bars for years longer.
Corrections deputies know that even under strict supervision inside the walls of a jail, criminal behavior can still occur.
"Even though they're in here, they still have something up their sleeve they're doing," Deputy Bikendy Turene said. "I'm not saying all of them, but some of them. That's why we're here to stop it from happening."
That's why deputies like Turene can do shakedowns or search cells at any time.
"We try our best to see what's going on," Turene said. "We're always on the floor keeping eyes on different groups, different activities."
During one of those more recent searches, the Martin County Sheriff's Office said Turene found a letter out in the open written by inmate Austin Nabeack.
The inmate was arrested in 2017 for forcing his way into a home in Stuart and beating a couple. One of the victims was beaten with a tire iron.
In the letter found in a nearby cell, Turene found Nabeack may have been trying to intimidate witnesses that spoke at his trial in July.
Investigators said he wrote that he was going to be getting $30,000 when he gets out and would give the recipient of the letter $20,000 of it.
"I'm not saying do nothing crazy that would get you f***ed up. But if you could convince them to stay away from the trial, or say something different, I'll look out," the letter said.
"I read over the note and I was like, 'Whoa, this is a bribery going on,'" Turene said.
Turene gave the note to his corporal, Anthony Scardigno.
"It was important. Definitely a good find by Deputy Turene," Scardigno said. "We're here to protect the public and that letter was, when I read the letter, I saw it was something to do to harm the public."
The deputy intercepted the letter before the trial, where Nabeack was later found guilty of attempted murder and armed robbery and sentenced to life in prison.
The following month — in August — a judge sentenced him to an additional 15 years in prison for witness tampering.
"I'm happy I was able to stop it from going any further," Turene said.
"I was very happy that the person in the letter that he wanted to harm did not get harmed, and he got what he deserved," Scardigno said.
Court records show that also while in jail, Nabeack was charged with criminal mischief for breaking a window with his food tray. He is appealing the witness tampering sentence.