Further corruption involving Georgia Department of Corrections guards exposed
The following is a press release taken from the Georgia
ATLANTA – More than 45 current and former Georgia Department of Corrections officers and contract correctional officers have been charged in seven separate federal indictments with smuggling contraband into prisons and with accepting bribe payments in exchange for providing protection for drug deals that were part of a federal undercover operation.
“It’s troubling that so many officers from state correctional institutions across Georgia were willing to sell their badges for personal payoffs from purported drug dealers,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “They not only betrayed the institutions they were sworn to protect, but they also betrayed the ideals that thousands of honest, hard-working correctional officers uphold every day.”
“While the vast majority of those working within Georgia’s correctional facilities are dedicated and loyal officers and employees, today’s FBI led an operation focused on the apprehension of those who strayed. These arrests represent an extensive FBI Atlanta and Georgia Department of Corrections’ investigation which initially focused on inmate criminal activities but also revealed a significant public corruption problem within eleven of the 35 Georgia Department of Corrections facilities,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
“We truly appreciate the swift response to our request for assistance from our partners at the FBI,” said GDOC Commissioner Homer Bryson. “We stand committed in our continuing efforts to bring to justice to those who pose a threat to the safety of the public and to the operations of our facilities. Shedding light on individuals involved in this type of corruption will remain our focus, and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the indictments, and other information presented in court: The Georgia Department of Corrections (“GA DOC”) is the agency responsible for overseeing the operations of the Georgia state prison system and its more than 50,000 inmates. During a federal investigation of GA DOC employees and inmates, the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovered that correctional officers were smuggling contraband (liquor, tobacco, cell phones) into state prisons. Many of those contraband cell phones were then used by inmates to commit wire fraud, money laundering, identity theft and drug trafficking.
The operation also revealed that numerous GA DOC officers were willing to use their law enforcement credentials to protect what they believed were drug deals involving multiple kilograms of methamphetamine and cocaine. In a series of undercover operations, more than 45 correctional officers used their law enforcement status to protect drug deals in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash bribe payments. During the undercover deals, the correctional officers generally wore their GA DOC uniforms or had their GA DOC badges in an effort to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
In connection with this most recent phase of the operation, a federal grand jury has returned multiple indictments charging the following individuals: Of the number arrested the following were from the Tri county area of Crisp, Dooly and Wilcox Counties:
Chasity Coleman, 22, of Cordele, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Dooly State Prison, has been charged with accepting bribe payments to protect drug transactions and with attempted drug trafficking.
Cortavius Henderson, 23, of Cordele, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Dooly State Prison, has been charged with accepting bribe payments to protect drug transactions and with attempted drug trafficking.
Marvin Johnson, 33, of Rochelle, Georgia, has been charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Alice Whitfield, 24, of Unadilla, Georgia, a Correctional Officer at Dooly State Prison, has been charged with accepting bribe payments to protect drug transactions and with attempted drug trafficking.
Branden Wiley, 24, of Cordele, Georgia, a Correctional Officer at Dooly State Prison, has been charged with accepting bribe payments to protect drug transactions and with attempted drug trafficking.
Previously, numerous others have been charged as part of the overall investigation of the GA DOC. In particular:
On January 21, 2016, more than 50 Georgia Department of Corrections employees, inmates, and non-incarcerated co-conspirators were charged federally with conspiring to commit wire fraud, conspiring to commit money laundering, and accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into prisons. Many of the alleged criminal activities were committed inside Georgia state prisons.
On January 13, 2016, three GA DOC inmates and 14 others were charged federally with participating in a wide-ranging drug trafficking conspiracy that operated within several state prisons.Using contraband cellular telephones inside of prison, and employing a network of brokers, distributers, and runners outside of prison, GDOC inmates controlled and managed the distribution of illegal narcotics throughout the Atlanta-metropolitan area and the southeast region of the United States.
On September 24, 2015, 12 prison employees, inmates, and others were charged federally in a wide-ranging conspiracy that involved drug trafficking, identity theft, and credit card fraud. Many of the alleged criminal activities were committed inside Georgia state prisons.
In total, this extensive operation has resulted in charges against approximately 130 prison employees, inmates, and non-incarcerated co-conspirators.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictments only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
These cases are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Georgia Department of Corrections Office of Professional Standards.
First Assistant United States Attorney Kurt R. Erskine and Assistant United States Attorneys Brent A. Gray, John S. Ghose, Trevor Wilmot, Brian Pearce, Jennifer Whitfield, and Jeffrey W. Davis are prosecuting the cases.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.com [external link].
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov
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or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
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