Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced Trinesse Butts, age 37, of Parkville, Maryland, to a year and a day in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a racketeering conspiracy at the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI). The conspiracy included former correctional officers, inmates, and outside “facilitators,” like Butts, who paid bribes to correctional officers to smuggle contraband, including narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, and cell phones into the prison. The sentence was imposed on November 23, 2020.
The sentence 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.
JCI was a maximum-security prison that housed approximately 1,800 male inmates, with approximately 423 Correctional Officers (COs).
According to her plea agreement, from at least 2017 until her arrest earlier this year, Trinesse Butts was romantically involved with a JCI inmate. While her boyfriend was an inmate, Butts conspired with JCI COs, inmates, and other outside facilitators to smuggle contraband into JCI, including narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, and cell phones, in order to enrich themselves and protect and expand their criminal operation. According to the plea agreement and other court documents, COs accepted or agreed to accept payments from facilitators and/or inmates or engaged in sexual relations with inmates in exchange for smuggling contraband into JCI. Inmates 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, conspirator inmates could purchase Suboxone strips for approximately $3 each and sell them inside JCI for approximately $50 each, or for a profit of more than 1,000 percent.
As detailed in her plea agreement, Butts conspired with a JCI CO, her inmate boyfriend, and others to smuggle controlled substances, including Suboxone and K2, into JCI, then distribute the contraband to other inmates. As part of the conspiracy, Butts made bribe payments to the CO and others. In addition, Butts managed financial accounts used to collect the profits from the smuggling operation. For example, Butts’ inmate boyfriend would routinely provide her with his customers’ reloadable prepaid debit card account numbers and instruct Butts to load their payments into accounts that Butts managed.
Three other co-defendants have pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing. Eleven co-defendants are still facing charges.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The U.S. Attorney expressed appreciation to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, whose staff initiated the JCI investigation and have been full partners in this investigation.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Burden H. Walker and Lauren E. Perry, who are prosecuting the case.
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