By Ian Duncan and Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun
8:19 PM EDT, July 26, 2013
Two corrections officers at the troubled Baltimore City Detention Center have resigned after being charged with crimes, authorities said Friday.
A Baltimore grand jury indicted corrections officer Sean Graves, inmate Michael Gordon, and a third man, Garnett Logan, in connection with an oxycodone-smuggling ring, the department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said.
Graves was originally charged in February when he was arrested trying to sneak six pills into the jail, authorities said. He resigned in May.
A second corrections officer resigned Thursday after she was charged with assaulting her uncle in a case unrelated to her work at the jail.
The new charges come as city and state law enforcement work to clean up the detention center after a federal investigation led to allegations of a wide-ranging Black Guerrilla Family gang smuggling network at the jail.
The Baltimore state's attorney's office, Maryland State Police and corrections department internal affairs have teamed up to continue corruption and contraband investigations. Friday's announcement marks the first indictments from that task force.
Public officials working to improve the jail lauded the resignations as evidence that the culture of corruption is unraveling but said the continuing investigations illustrate the challenge in eradicating it.
"There's been a lot of corruption, obviously, going on for a long time," said Sen. Ed DeGrange, chair of the state panel investigating how to improve the prisons.
Ivan Bates, Graves' attorney, denied that his client had done anything wrong and said any pills in his possession were for a back injury.
"We're talking about a total of six Percocets," Bates added. "We're not talking about a long history of smuggling drugs."
The second officer, Clarissa Clayton, and her boyfriend, Craig Parker, were charged in June in connection with an attack on her uncle, according to the department. The victim was left with injuries to his head and upper body, officials said.
Attempts to reach Clayton and Parker and their attorneys were unsuccessful.
The alleged attack happened outside of the jail but was investigated by the department's internal affairs unit. Clayton resigned Thursday after a grand jury returned a felony charge against her.
"We are making progress in our drive to ensure both that correctional officers uphold the law rather than violate it and that our correctional facilities are free of illegal contraband and corruption," State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein said in a statement.
Corrections secretary Gary D. Maynard said the new charges show the department will come after corrupt employees.
"We have the tools and we will come after you," Maynard said in a statement.
Maynard's tough-talk approach was welcomed by a union of correctional officers. "No one hates a dirty correctional officer more than a clean correctional officer," said Jeff Pittman, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The charges and resignations were announced as the department appointed a new head of its internal affairs unit, state police veteran Mark Carter.
"There's no more important responsibility for law enforcement than to root out corruption in institutions and employees who contribute to it," he said.
The focus on the Baltimore jail comes as corrections officers in Western Maryland demanded more accountability for assaults on officers at the high-security North Branch Correctional Institute in Allegany County. Two-thirds of inmates there serve sentences for murder or manslaughter, and the facility has experienced an uptick in violence this summer.
Criminal assault charges have been filed against two inmates in connection to the violence, corrections spokesman Rick Binetti said.
Rodney E. Barnes, 48, faces four new assault charges. He is serving a 33-year sentence for a 1994 conviction of assault with intent to murder and carrying a deadly weapon. James Calvin Shuler, 25, faces two new assault charges. He's serving a 10-year sentence for a 2005 first-degree assault.
Twelve workers at North Branch were hurt in seven separate assaults over the past four weeks. Injuries included a correctional officer's bloodied nose and a kitchen worker whose head needed several stitches.
Union officials complained that the most recent attack could have been prevented. Intelligence workers intercepted a threat in an inmate phone call. Pittman, the union representative, said management relayed that threat to officers at the start of their shifts, but did not take steps to prevent it.
"Locking down an entire institution based on intelligence that may or may not be actionable isn't good correctional practice," prisons spokesman Binetti said in a statement.
He added that some inmates have been moved to prisons outside the state to deal with the outbreak in violence, but investigators have yet to determine its cause.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun