BALTIMORE —A three-year investigation has led to two federal grand jury indictments of 80 people in a racketeering conspiracy operating at Maryland's largest state prison, federal officials said Wednesday.
The indictments charge 18 correctional officers, 35 inmates and 27 outside facilitators for their roles in the conspiracy, which allegedly involved paying bribes to correctional officers to smuggle contraband, including narcotics, tobacco and cellphones, into the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover. The indictments, returned Sept. 29, were unsealed Wednesday.
"Prison corruption is a longstanding, deeply rooted systemic problem that can only be solved by a combination of criminal prosecutions and policy changes," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said. "We will continue to work closely with state officials to prosecute correctional officers who bring cellphones, drugs and other contraband into correctional facilities, and to propose appropriate changes in prison policies and practices."
"Few things threaten our society more than public servants who betray their oath for personal gain," said Gordon B. Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI Baltimore Division. "It was extremely courageous of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to allow the access required to conduct this type of investigation. The state of Maryland and the FBI together have made this community safer."
ECI is a medium-security prison for men built as two identical compounds (east and west) on 620 acres, housing more than 3,300 inmates in Somerset County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The east and west compounds are divided into housing units: 1 through 4 in the west and 5 through 8 in the east.