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4 plead guilty in Maryland prison smuggling scheme

GREENBELT — A former prison guard, two inmates and a so-called “facilitator” are the latest defendants to plead guilty to a federal racketeering conspiracy at a Maryland prison, a federal prosecutor said.

A news release from the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office says the scheme involved inmates at Jessup Correctional Institution as well as outside facilitators paying bribes to correctional officers to smuggle narcotics, alcohol, tobacco and cellphones into the prison.

With guilty pleas on Tuesday and Wednesday, all 15 defendants charged have pleaded guilty, the news release said.

According to their plea agreements, the final four defendants conspired with other correctional officers, inmates, and outside facilitators to smuggle contraband into Jessup. The officers agreed to accept payments from facilitators and/or inmates as consideration for smuggling contraband, court documents said.

During the investigation, law enforcement intercepted phone calls and text messages in which the defendants discussed items to be smuggled into the prison as well as the payment of bribes.

The defendants each face a maximum of 20 years in prison for the racketeering conspiracy. Sentencing has been scheduled for June, July and August.

The other 11 defendants previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy and nine have been sentenced.