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Press Release

Federal Prison Employee Pleads Guilty to Accepting Payments from High-Net-Worth Inmate

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant received over $90,000 in benefits and a $50,000 property loan

BOSTON – A Correctional Counselor for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) assigned to Federal Medical Center Devens (FMC Devens) in Massachusetts pleaded guilty today to accepting payments from an inmate under his care, in violation of his duties as a public official. The defendant also pleaded guilty to lying to a bank about a loan he received from the inmate’s business associate and forging the associate’s signature to support this false claim. 

William S. Tidwell, 49, of Keene, N.H., pleaded guilty to receipt of payments by a public official in violation of his official duties, making false statements to a bank and identity theft. U.S. Senior District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for Dec. 7, 2023. Tidwell was charged on July 24, 2023. 

Tidwell has been employed by the BOP since 2000 and has been working at FMC Devens since 2008. According to BOP’s rules and policies that govern the duties and conduct of its employees, employees may not receive any payments, gifts, or personal favors from inmates, give preferential treatment to any inmate in the performance of their duties, or engage in outside employment that conflicts with their duties.  

In approximately 2014, Tidwell began working as a Correctional Counselor at FMC Devens, a position that give him significant levels of contact with, and authority over, inmates. Among other things, Tidwell was responsible for monitoring inmate work assignments, assigning inmate housing assignments, arranging inmate legal calls and coordinating prison visits for inmates. One of the inmates for whom Tidwell served as a Correctional Counselor was Individual 1 – an ultra-high net worth individual who had been convicted on federal charges in another jurisdiction. Starting in approximately 2018, Individual 1 caused a stream of benefits to be paid to Tidwell.  

In November 2018, Tidwell supervised Individual 1, who directed a close friend and business associate (Individual 2) to wire $25,000 to Tidwell’s close family member. Thereafter, starting in 2019, Tidwell and Individual 1 entered into an agreement pursuant to which Tidwell received thousands of dollars as part of a property management agreement.  Individual 2, the inmate’s close associate, made the payments to Tidwell. In total, between 2019 and 2020, Tidwell received over $65,000 in benefits as part of this property management agreement with Individuals 1 and 2. Tidwell’s receipt of payments and his employment relationship with an inmate or a close associate of an inmate violated his official duties as a BOP employee.

Separately, in 2020, Tidwell sought to purchase a home. In connection with seeking financing for the home purchase, Tidwell received a $50,000 loan from Individual 2. Tidwell made multiple false statements to the bank in connection with his loan application, falsely telling the bank that the $50,000 was a gift from his employer. When the bank asked for written proof of this purported gift, Tidwell forged documents to support his earlier claim, including by unlawfully using Individual 2’s name and address, and forging Individual 2’s signature. 

The charge of receiving payments in violation of official duties provides for a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of making false statements to a bank provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The charge of identity theft provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Jodi Cohen Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; and Ryan T. Geach, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General New York Field Office made the announcement today. Valuable assistance in the investigation was provided by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kunal Pasricha and Mark Grady of the Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

Updated September 6, 2023

Public Corruption