FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2011
CAMDEN, N.J. –An officer of the N.J. Department of Corrections and a co-conspirator were arrested today for allegedly conspiring to use the officer’s position to smuggle contraband to a prisoner in the Garden State Youth Correction Facility in Burlington County in exchange for $12,000.
Jermel Brown, 34, a senior corrections officer with NJDOC, and Maurice Brown-Harden, 23, both of Camden, were charged in separate Complaints with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Both men made their initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio in Camden federal court. Bail was set at $250,000 for Brown and $100,000 for Brown-Harden.
According to the Complaints and statements made in court:
Brown agreed to use his position as a Senior Corrections Officer to smuggle items, including mobile telephones and music players, into the Garden State Youth Correction Facility for delivery to a prisoner – a cooperating witness – in exchange for cash payments. Between July 2010 and July 2011, Brown and his co-conspirators, including Brown-Harden, conducted three transactions in which a cooperating witness outside the prison provided Brown’s co-conspirators with two mobile telephones and two portable music players and three cash payments of $4,000, $4,500, and $3,500 each. Brown then delivered the mobile telephones and music players to the prisoner inside the facility.
The extortion counts charged in the Complaints each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, for the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the N.J. Department of Corrections Special Investigation Division for their cooperation and assistance throughout the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee M. Cortes Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Jermel Brown and Maurice Brown-Harden: Richard Coughlin Esq., Federal Public Defender, Camden