Four to plead guilty in prison smuggling case
Four defendants in a sprawling racketeering case at Maryland’s largest prison have agreed to plead guilty for their roles, court records show. The guilty pleas come just one month after the massive case was unsealed. Eighty people, including 18 corrections officers, were charged in the investigation, which found widespread drug smuggling inside the Eastern Correctional Institution on the Eastern Shore. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Wise wrote in a status update to the court Nov. 10 that the government was in the process of providing discovery to defendants and their attorneys. Four defendants had already signed plea agreements, he said, while others wanted to discuss the possibility. The court docket lists four defendants who are slated for “rearraignments.” The first hearing is scheduled for today, when Miguel Matos, 46, of Fort Washington will appear in court. Matos was described as a “facilitator” who helped get drugs to a corrections officer who smuggled the contraband into the facility, according to the indictment. Correctional officer Rachelle Hankerson, 26, of Salisbury was accused in the indictment of smuggling in drugs for bribes. Her hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. Ramel Chase, 34, of Glen Burnie who according to the indictment was suspected of distributing Suboxone, is slated for a rearraignment Thursday. The fourth defendant slated for a rearraignment is Trina Williams Johnson, 44, of Baltimore who authorities listed as a “facilitator.” Her hearing is slated for Dec. 21. Johnson’s attorney David Irwin confirmed her guilty plea, and noted she had no prior criminal record and suffered from a serious medical condition.