JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Former Jefferson County jail deputy Myriah Lovato was sentenced Thursday to 45 days in jail and two years probation after she pleaded guilty to introducing contraband into the jail and official misconduct in September. Lovato was immediately taken into custody following the judge’s sentencing decision Thursday.

Myriah Lovato

Myriah Lovato (credit: CBS)

Lovato admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a Jefferson County Jail inmate, Justice Espinoza. She also admitted to bringing unauthorized items into the jail for Espinoza.

Lovato declined to make any statement during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, as she had already submitted a letter to the judge explaining her actions. She remained tearful throughout the entire hearing.

Myriah Lovato

Myriah Lovato (credit: CBS)

Two of Lovato’s family members did make statements on her behalf, however.

“Myriah’s a good woman, she just got caught up in something that was a mistake,” her father-in-law, Phil Candelaria, said.

Judge Tamara Russell told Lovato she “harmed the community” by her actions.

Lovato was in the jail’s gang intelligence unit and struck up a relationship in 2018 with Espinoza, a known gang member who was in jail on a kidnapping count and other charges.

Justice Espinoza (credit: CBS)

She said the relationship with Espinoza began with “sweet talking” but she eventually felt like she got in “deep water”’ with the relationship.

Both Espinoza and Lovato admitted during interviews they had engaged in minor fondling and kissing inside the jail, but both said the physical relationship did not go any further.

Investigators also said the pair talked by phone repeatedly engaging in “phone sex.”

Lovato submitted her resignation in the midst of the investigation. She had served with the sheriff’s office since 2016.

CBS4 reporters Brian Maass and Kati Weis serve on the CBS4 Investigates team, uncovering fraud, waste, and corruption. Send them a news tip or follow them on Twitter @Briancbs4 and @KatiWeis.

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