ECI inmate convicted of Bribery, Conspiracy, Money Laundering, Drug Distribution
Posted: May 25, 2018 12:55 PM
(Baltimore, Md) - An inmate at Eastern Correctional Institue in Westover has been convicted on bribery, conspiracy, and distribution of drugs as well as money laundering. A federal jury has convicted Ternell Lucas, a/k/a "T.L.," a/k/a "Moon," age 43, with racketeering while behind bars.
The Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) is the largest state prison in Maryland, operating since 1987 near Westover, in Somerset County, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. ECI is a medium-security prison for men built as two identical compounds (East and West) on 620 acres, and housing more than 3,300 inmates. The East and West Compounds are further divided into Housing Units, 1 through 4 in the West and 5 through 8 in the East. Lucas was an inmate at ECI's West Compound during the time of the conspiracy.
According to evidence presented at trial, from 2014 until October 5, 2016, correctional officers (COs) smuggled contraband into ECI, including narcotics, cell phones, pornographic DVDs, and tobacco. These items were distributed by inmates, and the COs managed the proceeds of the sales. The "going rate" for a CO to smuggle contraband into ECI was $500 per package, although some COs charged more and others charged less. According to evidence presented at trial, inmates and facilitators paid COs for smuggled contraband in cash, money orders, and through PayPal. Inmates were able to use contraband cell phones to pay COs directly using PayPal from within ECI. Inmates also received payments from other inmates for contraband through PayPal, often with the assistance of facilitators.
According to evidence presented at trial, Lucas acted as both a wholesaler and retailer of contraband and in the process made profits that far exceeded the profits that could be made by selling similar drugs on the street.
According to evidence presented at trial, ECI employees were required to pass through security screening at the entrance to ECI but were able to hide contraband on their persons. Further, Cos took breaks during their shifts and returned to their cars to retrieve contraband. Once COs had the smuggled contraband inside the facility, they delivered it to inmates in their cells; clerks' offices, which were 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, laundry rooms, and other places where contraband could be hidden and then later retrieved by inmates.
Lucas 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.
Correctional Officer Rozlyn Bratten, age 32, of Snow Hill, Maryland was acquitted of bribery conspiracy, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute K2.
United States District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for Lucas on August 13, 2018.
As of today's conviction, 70 of the 80 defendants originally indicted in this case have pled guilty, including 14 of the 18 correctional officers who were charged.
United States Attorney Hur expressed appreciation to Secretary Moyer, whose staff initiated the ECI investigation and who has made the full resources of the DPSCS available to assist the three-year investigation.
United States Attorney Hur commended the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo J. Wise, Robert R. Harding, and Daniel C. Gardner, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.