Officials at the Baltimore jail held "town hall meetings" with Black Guerrilla Family gang members to get tips on how to better operate the institution, a corrections officer told the FBI.

At the get togethers managers and gang members would discuss "what could be done to run the jail more efficiently," according to an agent's notes from the interview.

Angela Johnson, the officer, also told investigators that gang members were allowed to search other inmates for contraband, which they often kept for themselves.

Her comments raise again the question of how high in the jail's leadership the gang's influence had spread. The criminal case has focused on low level corrections officers, but the jail's head of security was ousted in the wake of charges being filed last year and other supervisors have since left the facility.

Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said jail leaders do hold meetings with inmate representatives, but that the discussions would not extend to management issues.

"There weren’t any meetings with 'BGF' members," Binetti said.

Experts say official working relationships between inmates and authorities were once common in the nation's prisons, but the idea started to fall out of favor in the 1970s and 80s.

Johnson made the comments in an interview before she was charged last November among a second of people accused of aiding the BGF's wide-ranging smuggling operation at the downtown facility. In all 44 people - including inmates and other officers - have been charged in the case.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty; her attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors filed the interview notes in court last week as they pushed back against an argument from Johnson's lawyers that FBI agents tricked her into talking to them. The October 15 conversation at Johnson's home touched on her concerns about the jail's leadership, lax security at the facility and the availability of tobacco and marijuana inside.

Johnson also told the investigators that she had dated an inmate she helped obtain tobacco, but that they were no longer in a relationship after he got locked up.

Johnson resigned from her job at the jail on April 1, 2013, according to court documents.

In an affidavit to obtain a search warrant for her home, investigators wrote that she resigned after recorded calls showed she was in a relationship with an inmate. In the interview, Johnson told the investigators that around the same time she was involved in an incident with the police and her brother and that her house and been raided.

She left just a few weeks before the first round of arrests in the BGF case. But, Johnson told investigators, it had seemed to her like another gang was making a come back at the jail -- the Bloods.

iduncan@baltsun.com

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