Inmate and Former Prison Guard Indicted in Scheme to Extort Family Members of Inmates

February 20, 2009

Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury indicted Fonda Deneen White, age 41, of Parkville, Maryland, and Jeffrey L. Fowlkes, age 41, an inmate in the Maryland Division of Correction, in connection with a scheme to extort money from the family members of inmates in the Maryland Division of Correction, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. The indictment was returned on December 4, 2008 and unsealed yesterday when White had her initial appearance. Fowlkes had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore at 11:00 a.m. today.

“I am grateful to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for its demonstrated commitment to rooting out fraud and corruption in state prisons,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

According to the two count indictment, Fowlkes is a resident of Maryland and was incarcerated at the Metropolitan Transition Center (MTC) in Baltimore, a Maryland Division of Correction facility. White was a correctional officer with the Maryland Division of Correction from February 9, 2001 to August 12, 2005.

The indictment alleges that from January to August, 2007, White, Fowlkes and others made calls to family members of inmates who owed debts relating to a gambling and contraband operation Fowlkes controlled inside the MTC. According to the indictment, White and Fowlkes demanded payment from family members of the inmates in exchange for the safety of the inmates and threatened to cause physical injury to inmates if their family members did not provide the demanded payments, which ranged from $250 to $2,500. The family members were directed to mail the payments to White’s home address. The indictment alleges that White would then deposit the payments into her personal bank account.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for using the mail to commit extortion and for the conspiracy charge.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services - Internal Investigative Unit for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who is prosecuting the case.



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