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" to perform more unannounced inspections.
The state this month announced new $1.8 million metal detectors at every state correctional facility that can locate small pieces of contraband and can be easily moved around the facility for quick searches.