Anthony Jones was a notorious drug dealer in East Baltimore, Maryland, who ran a large drug organization that allegedly sold over $30,000 a day worth of cocaine and heroin. The organization was also violent, allegedly committing more than ten murders, including one in which a man was set on fire.
Jones was arrested in February 1996 for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also indicted on drug conspiracy charges in April 1996. He was convicted of the felon in possession charge on September 25, 1996. On November 22, 1996, he received a 37-month sentence and was sent to the low security facility at Allenwood. While Jones was in federal custody, the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office continued its grand jury investigation into Jones drug conspiracy, planning to supersede the indictment filed in April 1996. This investigation included subpoenas to witnesses and co-conspirators in Jones' drug trafficking organization. Jones became aware of the investigation and also became aware that potential witnesses had been approached by law enforcement to testify against him. Jones used coded language over prison telephones to order his associates to murder two men who he suspected had testified against him. One of the men was killed, the other was shot several times and survived.
Jones was then charged under federal racketeering and drug conspiracy statutes for his drug trafficking activities and for the three murders he committed while running his organization and for conspiracy to retaliate against witnesses from prison, including murder and attempted murder of witnesses. The government sought the death penalty. On May 27, 1998, Jones was convicted on all charges but the jury declined to impose the death penalty. He received a sentence of life without parole.
During the course of the OIGs review of the way the BOP handled Jones case, we learned that even after Jones had been convicted in 1998 of ordering a witnesss murder through the use of the prison telephones, the BOP did not restrict his telephone and visiting privileges, did not enter his name into their central database as a telephone abuser, did not place him in segregation, and did not even write an incident report or administratively sanction him. In fact, as we describe below, the BOP took no action regarding Jones privileges until notified by the OIG in the course of our review that Jones continued to enjoy full telephone privileges.
As noted above, Jones was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and was sent to the Low Security Facility at Allenwood on December 16, 1996. When he arrived at Allenwood, his file contained information alerting the BOP to his criminal activities that extended well beyond his conviction for being caught with a firearm. Jones' file includes a memorandum, dated April 1, 1996, from District of Maryland AUSA Jamie Bennett to the United States Marshal Service (USMS), in which she noted allegations that Anthony Jones had shot one person and was searching for another to kidnap and murder in connection with his drug trafficking activities. A second memorandum from AUSA Bennett to the USMS, dated October 10, 1996, included the statement that Jones is very violent, and will be indicted for homicide.
Upon his arrival in the Low Security Correctional Institute at Allenwood, Jones was placed in administrative detention, as is standard for all arriving inmates, then released to the general population. On January 13, 1997, an incident report was written because he placed a three-way call with his lawyer, then lied about it to a BOP staff member. Disciplinary charges were filed against Jones for telephone abuse and lying, and he received a punishment of 15 hours of extra duty and a loss of commissary privileges for 30 days.
On January 17, 1997, Jones was transferred temporarily from Allenwood on a writ relating to his prosecution on drug conspiracy charges, and he was returned to Allenwood on February 18, 1997. On February 21, 1997, in a call recorded on the BOP telephone in Allenwood, Jones ordered the murder of his step-brother, John Jones. According to the recorded call, he first used street language called tergy wergy to order the murder. In a subsequent recorded conversation, he gave a similar order without code:
But make sure you know they do that shit tonight. Fucking idiots, yea man definitely yo, definitely - ET that nigger John tonight. I um, ain't no, no word you know who else we might have to kill. You know what I'm saying? I ain't lying, we going to have to kill that nigger. He already gave a statement so I ain't really worried about him. The only nigger that told the niggers that money was mine was that nigger John, yo. He's a fucking piece of shit, that's why I say that nigger gotta go.
John Jones was shot and killed on February 26, 1997. Within two weeks of his death, the Maryland USAO, which was handling the investigation of Jones, sent the Allenwood SIS subpoenas for Anthony Jones prison telephone records. In March 1997, while reviewing Jones' calls, a Baltimore police officer working on the Jones investigation informed the SIS office at Allenwood that the government was planning to seek the death penalty against Jones on charges that he ordered the murder of a federal witness while housed in the county jail temporarily on a writ. The officer said that Jones had later verified this order using the inmate telephone system at Allenwood.
According to the SIS office, it forwarded this information to a BOP attorney on April 1, 1997, and asked whether, based on this information, it could curtail Jones' privileges at Allenwood even though he had not yet been convicted of the alleged murder scheme. The SIS Lieutenant told the OIG that the BOP attorney told the SIS office that she would need more information from the prosecutor handling the case before she could make a determination whether the SIS office could take disciplinary action against Jones.
The U.S. Attorneys Office filed an indictment against Jones for conspiracy and racketeering activities, including the murder of John Jones, shortly after Jones murder. In response to a request for information from the Allenwood SIS office, on May 6, 1997, AUSA Bennett sent to the Allenwood warden a copy of the indictment. In a letter to the warden accompanying the indictment, Bennett stated that Jones had orchestrated the murder and an attempted murder from prison, and reported that Jones had made three-way calls from prison and had used a private language in his conversations. Bennett also described calls made by Jones instructing associates to take care of witnesses that might testify against him. In her letter, Bennett asked the warden to take appropriate action. Allenwood BOP officials did not immediately curtail Jones telephone or visiting privileges even after receiving this information, and he remained in the general prison population.
On July 29, 1997, the BOPs Northeast Regional Office sent an electronic mail message to all regional SIS offices reminding them to use the Security Threat Group category in SENTRY to identify inmates using prison telephones for criminal activity. Despite this reminder, Allenwood SIS staff did not enter Jones into the SENTRY database for telephone abuse.
On July 30, 1997, nearly three months after receiving the information from AUSA Bennett, Allenwood officials finally requested that Jones be transferred from the Allenwood Low facility to a more appropriate facility. Jones case manager requested the transfer to a more secure facility in light of Jones pending indictment. . .and inappropriate use of the inmate telephone system to facilitate attacks and murders of several individuals.
Although this request was characterized as a greater security transfer request, the Regional Office requested that Allenwood resubmit the request as a close supervision transfer. A greater security transfer request applies to inmates who, when their security classification is rescored after a new conviction or an incident report, receives a score that places them at a higher security level. The close supervision transfer request applies to inmates who, like Jones, have not received a new conviction or incident report, but who need closer monitoring and whose movements should be tracked. A close supervision request does not necessarily result in the inmate being transferred to a more secure facility.
On August 19, 1997 the Allenwood SIS office sent a memorandum to the Allenwood warden highlighting the letter from Bennett, comments made by one of the investigating agents about Jones, and Jones' pending trial for an offense that carried the death sentence. The SIS office noted that Jones had been placed in Administrative Detention pending a transfer to a higher security institution.
Jones was removed from Allenwood on August 25, 1997, because of his pending trial on murder, kidnapping, and racketeering charges. Jones' unit manager wrote in the documentation supporting Jones transfer that extreme caution should be used when transporting and housing this inmate as he is pending the death penalty for 17 murders which included potential witnesses against him. It is recommended that he be housed alone at all times.
The Allenwood Warden explained in a memorandum to the Northeast Regional Director that the SIS office at Allenwood had not conducted any investigation of Jones and that the re-designation request was based solely on the letter from AUSA Bennett. The Regional office approved Jones' close supervision re-designation and re-designated him to Allenwood's medium security facility on September 15, 1997. However, during this time the USMS maintained custody of Jones during his trial in federal court in Baltimore.
On October 30, 1997, a law enforcement agent working on the investigation of Jones returned to the Allenwood Low facility to review more of Jones' telephone calls. After discovering a three-way call involving Jones, the agent reported it to the SIS office. The SIS did not write any incident report for this violation. When questioned by the OIG, the SIS technician explained the lack of a report by saying that at the time there was not much emphasis on telephone abuse by SIS staff at Allenwood.
On May 27, 1998, Jones was convicted in Maryland District Court of murder in aid of racketeering, kidnapping, attempted murder, retaliating against federal witnesses, and drug distribution. His conviction made the front page of the Baltimore Sun. The Baltimore Sun had extensively reported about Jones, writing at least 16 stories about him and his trial.
The BOP staff at the Allenwood Low Security facility told the OIG that around June 11, 1998, they received a telephone call from the USMS in Baltimore asking whether they should return Jones to the Allenwood Low facility pending his sentencing. The Allenwood Low staff checked SENTRY and learned that Jones had been re-designated to the Allenwood Medium facility. They informed the USMS Service of this fact and then collected Jones' files and delivered them to Allenwood Medium.
On June 16, 1998 the USMS delivered Jones to the Allenwood Medium facility. However, it is clear from our interviews with staff at Allenwood Medium that, when Jones arrived at their facility, they were not familiar with his criminal history or recent conviction. After the standard day in Administrative Detention awaiting classification, Jones was released into the general population at Allenwood Medium with no restrictions on his telephone use. This lack of restrictions took place despite the fact that Jones had been assigned to Administrative Detention when he left BOP custody for trial, had faced the death penalty, and was ultimately convicted of numerous charges including murder of federal witnesses facilitated by his use of prison telephones.
The unit team at the Allenwood Medium facility the team of BOP employees that manage inmates in a particular housing unit met with Jones twice after his arrival at Allenwood Medium but apparently never reviewed the information in Jones central file. The unit team is supposed to review such information in preparation for its meetings with inmates. Jones case manager at Allenwood Medium told the OIG that she found some sketchy information about Jones history at Allenwood Low in the BOPs computerized SENTRY system, including mention of telephone misuse and a murder. But she stated that she was not aware of anything unusual about Jones, and she said that Jones refused to answer her questions about the writ removing him for trial, stating that he was instructed not to answer by his lawyer. The unit team even claimed to be unaware of Jones 1998 conviction and thought that Jones was going to be released in a couple months after he was sent to Allenwood Medium.
When we began investigating Jones case in late June 1998, we asked the BOP about Jones' telephone privileges. In early July 1998, we learned that Jones was housed at Allenwood Medium and that he had full telephone privileges. The OIG immediately informed the District of Maryland USAO, which had prosecuted the case against Jones, as well as the BOP that Jones apparently retained full telephone privileges and that staff at Allenwood Medium appeared to be unaware of his recent convictions.
Only after these inquiries from the OIG did the BOP take any action regarding Jones telephone privileges. On July 10, 1998, Jones was placed in Administrative Detention pending re-classification. On August 14, 1998, the BOP filed and ruled on a disciplinary action against Jones stemming from his use of the telephone to order the murder of a federal witness and restricted Jones privileges for ten years.
On August 21, 1998, Jones was sentenced to life in prison on the murder, kidnapping, and racketeering charges. At that time, the USAO moved to restrict Jones contact with those outside of prison. The court took the motion under consideration. On September 11, 1998, the court ruled on the prosecutors motion to restrict Jones privileges and ordered the BOP to ensure that Jones had no contact with other inmates, no telephone privileges other than to contact his two attorneys, and no visiting privileges other than with the attorneys and his mother. Jones was transferred to the Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Colorado.
First, there was enough information in Jones file that the BOP should have given him additional attention from the day he arrived in federal custody in 1996, even before his 1998 conviction for murder of a witness. AUSA Bennetts communications with BOP staff made it clear that Jones was an inmate who warranted careful scrutiny. Jones did not receive this scrutiny, and used the telephones to order the murder of a witness.
In addition to the BOPs failure to take an aggressive approach to monitoring Jones use of the telephones before the 1997 murder, the BOP was negligent in its actions after the murder. The SIS staff at Allenwood Low did not properly discipline Jones for his abuse of the telephone system, although specifically requested by the prosecutors to take appropriate action. The Allenwood Low SIS office also failed to charge Jones with any misconduct even though AUSA Bennett wrote to the BOP about his use of the prison telephone to have a witness murdered and his impermissible three-way calls from prison. While prosecutors in this case took special care to keep the BOP apprised of Jones' potential danger to the institution and the community, the BOP did virtually nothing in response to the clear danger posed by Jones use of the telephones.
In addition, Allenwood Low staff did not enter information about Jones into the SENTRY
system that would have enabled institutions to which Jones was sent to quickly ascertain
his criminal history and assess his security needs. There was nothing in the SENTRY system
to indicate that Jones was charged with murder and racketeering or that he had been
certified for the death penalty. The Allenwood Low SIS staff also failed to enter Jones
into SENTRYs phone abuse category, even after they learned of his three-way calls
and the murder scheme over the telephone, and despite two reminders from the BOP to place
such information in SENTRY. Allenwood Low staff failed to document in Jones' file the
reasons why Jones had been segregated into a special housing unit prior to his departure
from Allenwood Low for trial on murder and kidnapping charges. Consequently, when Jones
was placed in Allenwood Medium after his conviction, he was released into the general
population with no restrictions. We believe that the BOPs failures regarding its
handling of Jones case were inexcusable.
The OIG also reviewed the case of Oreste Abbamonte, a convicted drug dealer prosecuted for crimes he committed using prison telephones while incarcerated in USP Lewisburg. At sentencing, the court ordered limitations on Abbamonte's telephone privileges. The OIG examined his case to see whether any telephone restrictions had, in fact, been imposed. The following describes what we found.
According to prosecutors, Abbamonte spent his entire adult life outside of prison in narcotics distribution. His first conviction was in 1969 on drug charges, followed by a 1973 conviction for his plans to murder a witness. Abbamonte was convicted again in 1993 on heroin distribution conspiracy charges in the Southern District of New York and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. According to the prosecutor in that case, Abbamonte threatened to kill the DEA agent who arrested him. Abbamonte was also sentenced to 13 years, to be served concurrently, for violation of his parole on the 1973 conviction.
In 1986, while imprisoned in Lewisburg, he was indicted under the Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute for orchestrating the distribution of multiple kilograms of heroin from prison. According to the indictment, Abbamonte and a co-defendant used the prison telephones to facilitate this drug trafficking.
In December 1986, he was convicted of the Continuing Criminal Enterprise charges. Following this conviction, the USAO for the Southern District of New York wrote a letter to the Director of the BOP that stated that Abbamonte's access to Lewisburg's telephones and his ability to receive visitors had enabled him to commit the drug crimes for which he was convicted. The USAO expressed the hope that, in the future, narcotics violators who were apt to try to continue their criminal enterprises while in prison would have special restrictions placed on their use of the telephone and that their visitors would be scrutinized carefully. In response, the Director of the BOP wrote to the USAO that Abbamontes case demonstrated the need for increased telephone monitoring and expressed the hope that the new inmate telephone system scheduled to be implemented throughout the BOP would prevent this from happening again.
In early 1987, Abbamonte was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Court specifically recommended that Abbamonte never receive parole, that he be confined to the BOPs highest security facility, and, at the urging of the U.S. Attorney's Office, that he have limited telephone privileges. Abbamonte was transferred to USP Marion, the BOPs most secure facility at the time. In 1989, he was transferred to USP Leavenworth because the BOP concluded that Abbamontes security needs had lessened.
When we reviewed Abbamontes file from Leavenworth, we found that no special restrictions had been placed on him, nor was there any indication of the fact that the sentencing court had ordered Abbamonte's telephone privileges limited.
In fact, at Leavenworth Abbamonte, other inmates, and a co-conspirator on the outside conspired to purchase 10 kilograms of cocaine. According to the FBI, this drug trafficking was conducted using the prison telephones. In early 1992, Abbamonte pled guilty to three counts of Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering, which related to his participation in the conspiracy to purchase the cocaine. He was sentenced to 180 months for this conviction, to be served concurrently with his life sentence. Yet, even after this conviction, the BOP still did not take any disciplinary action against Abbamonte as a result of his misuse of prison telephones.
In April 1992, the BOP transferred Abbamonte to USP Terre Haute. There was no indication in Abbamonte's file that the new facility received any information about his criminal activities while he was incarcerated, or that he had previously used the telephones to engage in criminal activities. In February 1994, Abbamonte was transferred to USP Allenwood because Allenwood is nearer to his home. At USP Allenwood, Abbamonte was assigned as a unit orderly. When Abbamonte was transferred to Allenwood, the SIS included Abbamonte in its posted picture file a place in the SIS office where pictures of inmates of concern are posted so that SIS officers will be familiar with the inmates. This was done because of Abbamontes past involvement in drug transactions using the prison telephones. Abbamontes posted picture file summary included his drug activities at USP Lewisburg but did not mention the USP Leavenworth offenses. However, we found that Abbamonte is no longer in the Allenwood SISs posted picture file. He is included in the BOPs hot file database of inmates of concern because he is alleged to be a member of the Gambino crime family.
We were surprised to find that Abbamonte's telephone privileges are still not limited in any way, despite the courts specific request and his repeated use of the prison telephones to commit crimes. When we reviewed his file in November 1998, it revealed that Abbamonte had 28 people on his approved telephone list, but no special investigations had been conducted into the identity or background of these people. There were no alerts placed on his calls, he was not on the telephone monitoring list maintained by the SIS office, and he has not been placed in SENTRYs telephone abuse category. In fact, Abbamonte's current job assignment as an orderly means that he has unlimited access to the telephone during his work rotation since orderly positions are among the least supervised of all inmate jobs.
Abbamonte also has never been charged with any violations of BOP regulations as a result of his having used prison telephones to deal drugs. He has not received any BOP disciplinary sanctions restricting his use of the telephones. When questioned by the OIG about this, the SIS office at Allenwood said that it was not aware of the sentencing judges request to limit Abbamonte's telephone privileges.
Finally, we learned from law enforcement sources that Abbamonte continues to use the telephone to conduct criminal activities from Allenwood.
In sum, we found the BOP's failure to properly restrict and monitor Abbamonte unjustifiable and extremely troubling. He has twice been convicted of crimes committed from inside prison using BOP telephones. Despite a sentencing judges specific request to restrict his telephone use, and despite Abbamontes documented use of prison telephones to deal drugs, as of December 1998 the BOP has failed to restrict his telephone privileges. His calls are essentially unmonitored and his employment allows him access to the telephone at all hours.31
As part of our
investigation, the OIG reviewed the BOP Central Files on four inmates whose crimes had
received a great deal of public attention. In addition, these inmates appeared to have the
ability to continue their criminal activity while incarcerated. Our purpose was to assess
whether the BOP was taking any measures to guard against continued criminal activity by
these potentially high-risk inmates. The OIG selected the following inmates for review by
randomly picking some high-profile defendants from media reports.
The warden of McKean responded that he would consider separating Zappola from other Lucchese family members; that he had directed his staff to monitor all incoming and outgoing mail and telephone activity by Zappola; and that he had referred the question of administrative discipline for his actions at MDC Brooklyn to the SIS Office for appropriate action. The warden also said that if the AUSA wanted a ban on Zappolas visits and correspondence with Lucchese family members, he should seek a court order banning such contact under 18 U.S.C. Section 3582(d). (This statute will be discussed in detail in Chapter Seven, below.)
Despite the warden's assurances that both Zappola's mail and telephones would be monitored, we found no evidence that they were. Our inquiry to FCI McKean revealed that Zappola was being subjected to mail monitoring, but no correspondence was copied or maintained because no illicit activity was noted. According to Zappola's central file, he was not on telephone monitoring at McKean. In addition, the BOP never took disciplinary action against Zappola for his actions at MDC Brooklyn.
In November 1997, Zappola was transferred to USP Allenwood and placed on that institutions posted picture list. When the OIG asked the Allenwood SIS office about Zappola's current status it reported that he is listed in STG categories as an escape risk and a Lucchese crime family suspect. He is not on any hot lists, telephone, mail monitoring, or other lists. There is no alert on Zappola in the ITS system that would notify the SIS when he makes a telephone call. The SIS office was unaware of the AUSAs request for special monitoring of Zappola's calls, letters, and visits. The SIS Office also was unaware of Zappola's bribery of guards at MDC Brooklyn and no such entry exists in the SENTRY system.32
Thus, we found that the BOP has not taken a proactive approach to monitoring Zappola despite a specific written request by the prosecutor to do so and despite the fact that Zappola has compromised BOP staff in the past.
31 The BOP informed us that, since the time of our inquiry, Abbamontes telephone privileges have been reduced, and his job assignment changed. He has also been placed in SENTRY under the STG phone abuse category, been placed on Posted Picture file, and put on alert in ITS.
32 The BOP informed us that, since the time of our inquiry, Zappola has been entered into SENTRY under the STG phone abuse category and placed on alert in ITS.
33 The BOP has informed us that, since the time of our inquiry, Cabrera has been re-designated to a facility commensurate with his security needs.