Nine Defendants Face Federal Charges In Alleged Racketeering Conspiracy To Smuggle Contraband Into Maryland’s Chesapeake Detention Facility In Exchange For Bribes | USAO-MD

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging nine defendants with a racketeering conspiracy at the Chesapeake Detention Facility (CDF), in Baltimore, Maryland.  The indictment charges three correctional officers (COs), four detainees, and two outside “facilitators” for their roles in the conspiracy, which allegedly involved paying bribes to correctional officers to smuggle contraband, including narcotics, tobacco, and cell phones, into the prison.  The indictment was returned on October 14, 2020, and made public today.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Secretary Robert Green of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

“Corrupt correctional officers endanger the lives of their co-workers and of the detainees entrusted to their care and supervision,” said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “They also endanger the entire community, as prisoners can use contraband cell phones to direct criminal activity outside prison walls.  The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to root out prison corruption and prosecute correctional officers who abuse their positions of trust to facilitate and engage in criminal behavior.”

“In a city like Baltimore where fighting crime is a top priority, we cannot and will not accept perpetuation of a cycle of illegal activity inside prison walls,” said Jennifer C. Boone, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “Today’s indictment shows that no one in a position of public trust who carries out a criminal conspiracy is beyond the reach of the dedicated agents, officers and detectives from our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners.”

“The Department’s mission is to protect its employees, detainees and inmates, and the public. Any introduction of contraband or breach of integrity threatens that mission and will not be tolerated, which is precisely why we initiated the investigation and asked the U.S. Attorney to assist,” said Secretary Robert L. Green.  “We are grateful for their partnership.”

According to the indictment, CDF is run by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) pursuant to a contract with the United States Marshals Service (USMS) and used solely for the housing of federal pretrial detainees.  CDF is a maximum-security prison that houses approximately 500 male and female detainees.  There are six housing areas, or “pods” in CDF and in 2020, the facility has 198 correctional officers and other employees.

The indictments alleges that from at least 2016 through the date of the indictment, the COs smuggled contraband into CDF, including narcotics, cell phones, and tobacco.  The indictment alleges that the narcotics smuggled into CDF included marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids (otherwise known as “K2”), and buprenorphine, commonly referred to as “Suboxone.”  Detainees allegedly acted as both wholesalers and retailers of contraband and in the process made profits that far exceeded the profits that could be made by selling similar drugs on the street.  For example, defendant detainees could purchase Suboxone strips for $8 each and sell them inside CDF for $75 each, or for a profit of more than 800 percent. 

According to the indictment, although COs and other CDF employees were required to pass through security screening at the entrance to CDF, defendant COs were able to hide contraband on their persons, in their clothing, and in bags or containers of food.  Further, COs took breaks during their shifts and returned to their cars to retrieve contraband.  In other cases, the defendant COs avoided passing through the metal detector in the main lobby at CDF, enabling them to enter the facility and leave contraband in the lockers or in the Officer’s Dining Room, among other locations.  Once the COs had the smuggled contraband inside the facility, they delivered it to: detainees in their cells; in private offices where detainees and staff interacted; in the hallways of detainee housing pods; and pre-arranged “stash” locations like janitorial carts or the laundry or property rooms within the jail.  Detainees who were assigned jobs that enable them to move throughout the jail, also known as “working men,” took orders from fellow detainees, provided such orders to corrupt COs, and delivered contraband to other detainees on behalf of corrupt COs.

According to the indictments, the defendant detainees and facilitators paid the defendant COs for smuggled contraband using cash and electronic payment platforms, including Cash App.  Some COs also engaged in sexual relations with detainees in exchange for smuggling contraband into CDF.  The defendant detainees received payments from other detainees for contraband transactions via Cash App and other methods, often with the assistance of facilitators.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the racketeering conspiracy.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

The U.S. Attorney expressed appreciation to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, whose staff initiated the CDF investigation and have been full partners in this investigation. 

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and DPSCS for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter J. Martinez and Christina A. Hoffman, who are prosecuting the case.

 

CDF Indictment Defendants

Correctional Officers:

  •       Darren Parker, age 45, of Baltimore;  
  •       Andre Davis, a/k/a 2Chainz, age 35, of Baltimore; and
  •       Talaia Youngblood, age 35, of Randallstown, Maryland.

Detainees:

  •       James Hair, a/k/a Mook, age 29;
  •       Donte Thomas, a/k/a Cruddy, age 33;
  •       Bernard Bey, a/k/a Tony Bey, age 50; and
  •       Andre Webb, a/k/a Arnie, age 33.

Facilitators:

  •       Lynette Carlest, age 48, of Baltimore; and
  •       Jasmine Coleman, age 28, of Baltimore.

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