80 peo­ple charged in Mary­land pri­son smug­gling case

Cecil Whig - - REGIONAL - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— A fed­eral grand jury has in­dicted 80 peo­ple in con­nec­tion with a rack­e­teer­ing con­spir­acy op­er­a­tion at the Eastern Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion in Som­er­set County, where cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers al­legedly smug­gled drugs, tobacco, cell­phones and other con­tra­band to in­mates, who, in re­turn, paid them in mone­tary bribes or sex­ual fa­vors, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice.

The two in­dict­ments, which were un­sealed Wed­nes­day and are the prod­uct of a three-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion, charge 18 cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers, 35 in­mates and 27 con­trac­tual work­ers iden­ti­fied as “out­side fa­cil­i­ta­tors,” who also al­legedly paid cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers for drugs and other items, fed­eral

BAL­TI­MORE

prose­cu­tors re­ported.

Hous­ing more than 3,300 in­mates in two com­pounds on 620 acres in Westover on the Eastern Shore, ECI is the largest state pri­son in Mary­land, noted Mar­cia Mur­phy, a USAO spokes­woman.

Since the medium-se­cu­rity pri­son opened in 1987, some con­victs from Ce­cil County have served their sen­tences there. While the in­dict­ments list ad­dresses for the charged cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers and fa­cil­i­ta­tors — they are not Ce­cil County res­i­dents — the doc­u­ments iden­tify the charged in­mates only by name.

The in­dict­ments al­lege that the cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers ac­cepted pay­ments from fa­cil­i­ta­tors and, or, in­mates, or en­gaged in sex­ual re­la­tions with in­mates, to smug­gle drugs, tobacco, cell­phones and other con­tra­band into ECI, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral prose­cu­tors.

The “go­ing rate” for a cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer to smug­gle con­tra­band into ECI was $500 per pack­age, al­though some charged more and some charged less, prose­cu­tors re­ported.

In­mates and fa­cil­i­ta­tors paid cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers for smug­gled con­tra­band in cash, money or­ders and through PayPal, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ments. In­mates were able to use con­tra­band cell­phones to pay cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers di­rectly us­ing PayPal from within ECI, the in­dict­ments al­lege. In­mates also re­ceived pay­ments from other in­mates for con­tra­band through PayPal, of­ten with the as­sis­tance of fa­cil­i­ta­tors, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ments.

The in­dict­ments al­lege that the de­fen­dants con­spired to smug­gle drugs into ECI, with the list of traf­ficked nar­cotics in­clud­ing heroin, co­caine, mar­i­juana, syn­thetic mar­i­juana (known as “K2”), ec­stacy (Also known as “Molly” and “MDMA”) and sub­ox­one, which is a pre­scrip­tion opi­ate used to treat heroin ad­dic­tion.

Other smug­gled con­tra­band in­cluded porno­graphic videos, cell­phones and cig­a­rettes, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ments.

“The prof­its made by the in­mates by sell­ing con­tra­band in the pri­son far ex­ceeded the prof­its that could be made by sell­ing sim­i­lar items on the street,” Mur­phy said, adding, “For ex­am­ple, de­fen­dant in­mates could pur­chase sub­ox­one strips for $3 each and sell them in­side ECI for $50 each, a profit of more than 15 times the pur­chase price.”

The in­dict­ment al­leges the nowcharged in­mates who had jobs that al­lowed them to move through­out the hous­ing unit and else­where in the pri­son took or­ders for con­tra­band from in­mates, pro­vided or­ders to the now-charged cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers and de­liv­ered con­tra­band to in­mates.

In ad­di­tion to dis­creetly de­liv­er­ing the con­tra­band to the in­mates in cells, clerks’ of­fices and other spots, cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers would leave the con­tra­band for pay­ing in­mates in pre-ar­ranged “stash lo­ca­tions,” such as stor­age clos­ets and laun­dry rooms, prose­cu­tors ex­plained.

Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, one in­mate ad­mit­ted to pay­ing cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers $3,000 per week to smug­gle for him, prose­cu­tors said. An­other in­mate told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he “aimed to make $50,000 be­fore he was re­leased,” prose­cu­tors added.

If con­victed, each de­fen­dant faces up to 20 years in pri­son.

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