PHILADELPHIA – John Wesley Herder, 49, of Philadelphia, PA, formerly a correctional officer at Philadelphia’s Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF), pleaded guilty today to attempted extortion under color of official right, attempted distribution of controlled substances, and making false statements within federal jurisdiction. These charges resulted from Herder’s agreement with a prison inmate to smuggle a cellular telephone and Oxycontin pills into the CFCF in exchange for a $1,000 cash payment, and Herder’s act of lying to the FBI when questioned about his contraband smuggling activities. U.S. District Court Judge Mark A. Kearney scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 16, 2016.
Herder was working as a correctional officer at the CFCF in October 2013 when, in exchange for a $1,000 payment, he agreed to smuggle Oxycontin (oxycodone) pills and a cellular telephone into the prison and deliver it to Inmate #1. To obtain his payment and the contraband, Herder agreed to meet with Inmate #1’s associate (“Person #1”) outside the prison. On October 17, 2013, Herder met with Person #1 inside a car in the parking lot of a Walgreens Pharmacy in Philadelphia. During their meeting, Person #1 handed Herder 100 pills, represented to contain OxyContin (oxycodone), a Nokia cellular telephone, and $1,000.00 in cash. At the conclusion of their meeting, Herder told Person #1: “Just tell [Inmate #1] to sit tight and I got it coming to him, ok.” Herder also told Person #1 that he was willing to bring additional contraband into the prison.
Between October 17, 2013 and October 29, 2013, Herder smuggled the 100 pills and cellular telephone past prison security and into the CFCF. On October 29, 2013, Herder provided Inmate #1 with all 100 pills and the cellular telephone. On June 18, 2015, federal law enforcement agents interviewed Herder and questioned him about his contraband smuggling activities, and Herder falsely stated that he did not bring contraband into CFCF.
Herder faces a statutory maximum sentence of 45 years in prison, forfeiture, possible fines, supervised release, and special assessments.
The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Philadelphia Department of Corrections. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Brenner.