News

Former Correctional Officer Sentenced for Taking Bribes To Smuggle Contraband into Federal Prison


Received Over $14,000 From Inmates to Smuggle Cigarettes and other Contraband Into Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 17, 2008

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Robb Phillips, age 34, of Cumberland, Maryland, today to a year and a day in prison followed by two years of supervised release for accepting bribes in connection with a scheme to smuggle cigarettes and other contraband into the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland (FCI-C), announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

“Robb Phillips abused his authority as a correctional officer by smuggling tobacco into a federal prison and selling it for a large profit. He violated his oath and turned from a law officer to a criminal,” said United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

Phillips was hired by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons, as a correctional officer on July 30, 2000 and in November 2001, began working as a teacher in the Education Department at FCI-C. According to the plea agreement, beginning on April 15, 2006, cigarettes were banned from all federal prisons, and were considered contraband. Shortly thereafter, an inmate at FCI-C offered to pay Phillips $50 per pack to smuggle cigarettes into the prison, or $1000 per carton

The inmate arranged to have Phillips paid outside of the prison by providing Phillips with contact information for associates of the inmates outside the prison. Phillips would contact the inmates’ associates and in order to avoid detection, Phillips required that all payments be made in another person’s name, and sent to a post office box or Western Union locations.

After Phillips received the payments, he bought cigarettes and informed the inmate of the date that he would be bringing the cigarettes into the prison. On the arranged dates, Phillips brought the cigarettes into the prison in a large potato chip bag inside his lunch container. Once inside the Education Department, Phillips put the cigarettes in a computer box in the storage room. Phillips would then stand guard while the inmate entered the storage room and placed the contraband into his clothing.

During the course of the scheme, Phillips accessed the Bureau of Prisons computers without authority in order to monitor the emails and phone calls of inmates involved in the scheme to make sure that they would not reveal the scheme to authorities.

By the end of the scheme, Phillips was smuggling up to 50 packs of cigarettes a week into the prison. Phillips also smuggled snuff, which is also banned, into the prison for which he was paid $50 per can. In all, Phillips received over $14,000 in payments in exchange for smuggling cigarettes and other contraband into the prison.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Department of Justice - Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Prisons for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who prosecuted the case.

 

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