Six former Philadelphia prison guards nabbed in a sting related to the smuggling of cell phones and drugs into the city’s prison system have pleaded guilty to federal charges and are facing incarceration and fines. Each was indicted on federal charges.
The sting operation, undertaken jointly by the FBI and the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS), took place over several years, roughly between 2013 and 2015, and netted four current guards as well as two former officers.
“After seizing street drugs in our facilities, we knew that we needed assistance,” said PPS Commissioner Louis Giorla. The FBI set up a sting operation on Giorla’s request to help end contraband smuggling by prison staff.
Federal officials used prisoner informants to ask guards to pick up Oxycotin and cell phones from friends in exchange for $500 to $1,500.
“During the ensuing meetings, the inmates’ purported associate handed the contraband and cash to the defendant and the defendant subsequently smuggled the contraband past security and delivered it to an inmate,” said U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger.
The indicted prison guards who were actively employed at the time of the sting included Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF) guard John Wesley Herder, 49, a nine-year veteran; Detention Center guard Bryant Fields, 43; House of Corrections (HC) guard George Kindle, 29; and Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center guard Joseph Romano, 31.
The two former guards indicted were HC guard Marc Thompson, 23, and CFCF guard Dupree Myers, 27.
Each defendant was charged with attempted extortion and attempted distribution of controlled substances. Kindle faced two counts of each charge, while Herder also faced charges for lying to federal investigators.
In July 2016, Herder was sentenced to 50 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty. He was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and forfeit another $1,000.
Kindle, Thompson and Romano preceded Herder to the jailhouse, each having pleaded guilty and receiving sentences of six months to four years earlier in 2016. In addition to a four-year prison term, Kindle was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $4,000 in fines.
Fields was sentenced in January 2017 to nine months in prison, three years of supervised release and a $1,000 fine, while Myers, who pleaded guilty, has not yet been sentenced.
“Every day in the Philadelphia prisons, staff are injured, inmates assaulted, hours are spent on searches, and countless reports must be prepared due to the smuggling and seizure of contraband,” Commissioner Giorla wrote. “Only a callous disregard for the lives of their coworkers would make their behavior possible.”
Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer, www.philly.com, www.justice.gov
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