U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and various law enforcement agencies announced on Thursday that a federal superseding indictment was unsealed charging 19 additional defendants, including 14 former and current correctional officers with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, with conspiring to operate the Black Guerilla Family gang inside local correctional facilities. All 19 defendants also are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute drugs; and six are charged with money laundering conspiracy.
This brings to 44 the total number of alleged BGF gang members and associates charged in the case, including 27 correctional officers. Sixteen of the 25 defendants in the original indictment in April 2013 have pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, including nine correctional officers, four inmates and three drug suppliers. One defendant is deceased. Eight defendants charged with racketeering in April 2013 remain in the superseding indictment.
This case was developed as a result of the efforts of the Maryland Prison Task Force, formed in 2011 with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors. The Task Force has met regularly for almost three years, generating recommendations to reform prison procedures and producing leads that have been pursued by state, local and federal criminal investigators.
“The new charges focus on criminal conduct that occurred prior to April 2013, adding 19 new defendants as a result of additional evidence that came to light during the ongoing investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “I want to thank Secretary (of Public Safety & Correctional Services) Gary Maynard and the many law-abiding employees of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services who have assisted in this investigation and are working to eliminate corruption in state correctional facilities.”
“We are grateful to our federal law enforcement partners for their responsiveness, their good work, and their ongoing willingness to work with us as we root out corruption, improve security, and promote integrity at Maryland correctional institutions,” DPSCS Secretary Maynard said. “While our work continues, those indicted out of the Taskforce’s efforts do not represent the overwhelming majority of honest and hardworking correctional officers working every day to keep our institutions safe.”
The superseding indictment and a search warrant affidavit were unsealed today upon the arrests of the defendants and the execution of 15 search warrants. Approximately 150 agents and officers assisted in the arrests and search warrants. The superseding indictment was returned on November 5, 2013, and remained under seal until after the warrants were executed this morning.
The defendants charged in the superseding indictment are alleged to be members or associates of the BGF, a gang active in prisons throughout the United States. According to the indictment, BGF has been the dominant gang at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC), and in several connected facilities, especially the Baltimore Central Booking Intake Center, the Women’s Detention Center, which houses many men, and in the Jail Industries Building.
According to the affidavit, the BGF inmates and correctional officers operated a criminal organization within the prison facility, enabling them to make large amounts of money through drug trafficking, robbery, assault, extortion, bribery, witness retaliation, money laundering and obstruction of justice. “Green Dot” cash cards routinely were used to transfer money. BGF members and associates used the money to bribe correctional officers and other employees at BCDC and related prison facilities to smuggle drugs, cell phones and other contraband. Correctional officers arranged favored treatment and privileges for imprisoned BGF gang members, thwarted interdiction and law enforcement efforts against BGF inmates, and facilitated attacks on inmates in furtherance of BGF objectives. Gang members and associates extorted protection money from inmates who were non-members, often paid by relatives outside the jail.
The correctional officers allegedly hid drugs and other contraband beneath clothing and inside body cavities when they entered the prison. The correctional officers also smuggled items in their shoes, or in sandwiches they brought into the prison. BGF leaders used contraband cell phones to order drugs and other contraband and to coordinate gang activities.
Court documents allege that BGF members recruited correctional officers through personal and often sexual relationships as well as bribes, and that some officers traded sex for money. Officers believed it was unlikely that they would be fired or face significant discipline even if they were caught smuggling contraband or fraternizing with inmates.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the racketeering and drug conspiracies. Thirteen of the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison as well for conspiracy to commit money laundering. James Yarborough also faces five years in prison for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Most of the defendants are expected to have initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Baltimore this afternoon.
The following 19 defendants are newly charged in the superseding indictment unsealed today.
Russell Carrington, a/k/ Rutt, age 33; and
Frederick Morrison, a/k/a Fry, age 29.
Current and former correctional officers:
Kevin Armstrong, age 26, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland;
Clarissa Clayton, age 24, of Brooklyn Park, Maryland;
Tanierdra Finch, age 26, of Baltimore;
Danielle Forrest, age 26;
Aisha Fraction, age 25, Brooklyn;
Sean Graves, age 47, of Windsor Mill, Maryland;
Ricolle Hall, age 26, of Glen Burnie, Maryland;
Angela Johnson, age 34, of Baltimore;
Derrick Jones, age 41, of Aberdeen, Maryland;
Javonne Lunkin, age 28, of Baltimore;
Ashley Newton, age 30, Baltimore;
Travis Paylor, age 26, Baltimore;
Milshenna Peoples, age 29, of Baltimore; and
Michelle Ricks, age 43, Edgewood, Maryland.
Other DPSCS employee:
Michelle McNair, age 22, Baltimore.
Raylanair Reese, age 31; and
Linnard Wortham, a/k/a Stu, age 29, of Glen Burnie, Maryland.
- 7th Baltimore correctional officer pleads guilty in BCDC scandal (baltimorenewsjournal.com)
- 5 more defendants plead guilty to racketeering in BCDC scandal (baltimorenewsjournal.com)