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Seattle Federal Halfway House Case Manager’s Reentry Plan for Prisoner Allegedly Included Sex, Heroin

A former case manager at Pioneer Fellowship House, a halfway house in Seattle, Washington, has been accused of having a sexual relationship with one of the released prisoners she supervised and providing him with money to buy heroin.

According to records filed in federal court by Special Agent Wayne Hawney with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Justice, the former halfway house employee, who quit her position in March 2011, befriended the ex-prisoner after he was released from federal prison upon completing a sentence for robbing numerous banks.

PLN contacted both the OIG’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office, but both declined to provide the name of the case manager or the former prisoner involved in the investigation. PLN later determined the ex-prisoner was Christopher S. Webb. We have not yet determined the identity of the case manager.

The matter came to light after Webb, described as a habitual heroin user in court records, absconded from the half-way house, saying he would fail a drug test administered by another worker at the facility. He then offered to provide evidence against the case manager, whom he claimed had given him money on several occasions to buy drugs and had forced him to have sex with her. Other employees at the halfway house also made allegations involving the same case manager, with one accusing her of “whorey things.”

Investigators executed a search warrant at the former case manager’s apartment on June 30, 2011 and seized her cell phone. According to court pleadings, the phone contained more than 1,360 text messages she had exchanged with Webb. Court documents also stated that the former case manager had provided $20 to Webb to purchase heroin, and watched as he injected it. Days later, she allegedly gave him an additional $100 to buy more heroin.

Other court records indicated that the former case manager provided Webb with a work pass so they could meet at her West Seattle apartment and have sex. He was later able to describe the books on her shelves, as well as details about her bedroom furniture. He also alleged the case manager gave him advance warning of drug tests, and sheltered him after he absconded from the halfway house.

Webb began robbing banks in 2004 to support his heroin addiction after he went AWOL from the Army. Dubbed the “Button-up Bandit,” he was arrested in July 2006 after robbing 29 banks in Washington and Oregon, which netted him around $42,000. He pleaded guilty and received a 51-month prison sentence plus three years on supervised release. He was released in 2010, and participated in a substance abuse treatment program at Pioneer Center North before moving to Pioneer Fellowship House in January 2011.
See: United States v. Webb, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Wash.), Case No. 2:06-cr-00294-MJP.

Prisoners in the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons are often placed in halfway houses to assist them in successfully transitioning back into the community after their release. They technically remain under the authority of the Bureau of Prisons while at the halfway house and must adhere to specified conditions of supervised release – which include not using drugs and, presumably, not having a sexual relationship with their case manager.

While an investigation remains pending, the former Pioneer Fellowship case manager has not yet been charged with any crime in connection with her alleged misconduct involving Webb, unlike Deborah Belim, 44, a program monitor at the Coolidge House, a halfway house for federal prisoners in Boston, Massachusetts.

Belim was sentenced on March 22, 2011 to one month of incarceration and two years on supervised release, including 7 months of home detention. She pleaded guilty to charges of distributing heroin to residents at the Coolidge House along with her boyfriend, who was a former resident at the halfway house. Belim’s job duties had included monitoring ex-prisoners – such as performing pat down searches, bed checks and breathalyzer tests.


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Related legal case

United States v. Webb