HOMINY — Scrooge-like skepticism led to one of the largest contraband busts of the year at Conner Correctional Center.

On Christmas Day, a security guard at at the medium-security prison facility was intrigued when he noticed an inmate with a large plastic bag containing six footballs and two basketballs. Closer inspection revealed that the balls had been cut open, filled with contraband and then taped shut — apparently to make it easier to throw them over the prison’s fences.

Corrections’ officials said the contraband “filling” included nearly 40 cell phones and approximately 10 pounds of tobacco.

The director of the state ‘sprison system commended the officer’s diligence.

“I thank the correctional officer for his attention to detail and his swift action,” Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said.

Allbaugh said the cell phones would have enabled an inmate to harass victims, or continue a criminal enterprise. The communication devices also could be used by onee inmate to alert other inmates regarding the movement of security personnel.

“Cell phones are one of the most dangerous things an inmate can get their hands on while in custody,” the corrections official said.

Other confiscated items included three MP3 players, one Bluetooth earpiece, nine cell phone chargers, 20 USB cords, five packages of rolling papers, four cigars and 9 1/2 pounds of tobacco.

Prison officials say they are still looking to identify those responsible for throwing the items over the prison fence.

As of Tuesday morning, no charges were pending with regard to the contraband.