14 de­fen­dants face more cor­rup­tion charges

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - — Jes­sica An­der­son

With the bulk of de­fen­dants charged in the state’s largest prison cor­rup­tion case plead­ing guilty, fed­eral au­thor­i­ties have filed ad­di­tional charges against the 14 re­main­ing de­fen­dants.

Two su­per­sed­ing in­dict­ments un­sealed this week show ad­di­tional charges against six cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers, four in­mates and four “fa­cil­i­ta­tors.” The charges in­clude rack­e­teer­ing, con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute and pos­sess drugs, and money laun­der­ing at the East­ern Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion in Westover, on the state’s East­ern Shore.

Eighty peo­ple — 18 cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing in­mates and oth­ers out­side the prison — were ini­tially charged in an al­leged con­spir­acy to smug­gle heroin, co­caine, cell­phones, pornog­ra­phy and other con­tra­band into the fa­cil­ity, ac­cord­ing to the orig­i­nal in­dict­ments un­sealed last Oc­to­ber.

Sixty-six de­fen­dants have pleaded guilty or are sched­uled to plead guilty, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

In the new in­dict­ments, pros­e­cu­tors say cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers smug­gled con­tra­band items into the prison from about 2014 to Oc­to­ber 2016 to be dis­trib­uted by in­mates. Pros­e­cu­tors say the cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers man­aged the pro­ceeds of the sales.

Of­fi­cers and other prison em­ploy­ees were re­quired to pass through se­cu­rity screen­ing at the en­trance to the prison, but the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice says the of­fi­cers were able to hide the con­tra­band.

The of­fi­cers al­legedly re­trieved con­tra­band from their cars dur­ing their breaks, pros­e­cu­tors say. Once in­side the fa­cil­ity, pros­e­cu­tors say, they would de­liver it to in­mates in their cells; pri­vate of­fices within each hous­ing unit where an in­mate clerk worked; the of­fi­cers’ din­ing room, where of­fi­cers could in­ter­act with in­mate servers and kitchen work­ers; and pre-ar­ranged “stash” lo­ca­tions such as staff bath­rooms, stor­age clos­ets and laun­dry rooms.

Each de­fen­dant faces a max­i­mum sen­tence of 20 years in prison for the rack­e­teer­ing con­spir­acy, and for con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute and pos­sess with in­tent to dis­trib­ute drugs.

The East­ern Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion is a medium-se­cu­rity prison that houses more than 3,300 in­mates.

Af­ter the ini­tial in­dict­ments were an­nounced last Oc­to­ber, fed­eral of­fi­cials said they as­signed re­sources from the FBI and other agen­cies to ferret out cor­rup­tion and launched new “con­tra­band in­ter­dic­tion teams” for more unan­nounced in­spec­tions.

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