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Press Release

Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty To A Racketeering Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Smuggled Drugs and Other Contraband for BGF Gang Members in Baltimore Correctional Facilities

Baltimore, Maryland - Jennifer Owens, a/k/a O and J.O., age 31, of Randallstown, Maryland pleaded guilty today to a racketeering conspiracy for smuggling drugs and other contraband for Tavon White and other member of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) gang inside several correctional facilities.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Secretary Gary D. Maynard of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein.

According to court documents, BGF has been the dominant gang at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC), and in several connected facilities, including the Baltimore Central Booking Intake Center, the Women’s Detention Center, which houses many men, and in the Jail Industries Building.

Jennifer Owens worked as a correctional officer (CO) at BCDC from 2007 to 2013. Owens admitted that she entered into a personal and sexual relationship with BGF gang leader Tavon White while he was an inmate at BCDC and has two children by White. According to her plea agreement, Owens frequently smuggled Percocet pills and Suboxone strips into BCDC on behalf of White and others. From 2010 to 2011, Owens smuggled marijuana and tobacco into the prison two to four times per week, but after that she concentrated on pills and strips. Outside the prison, Owens frequently obtained contraband from other co-defendants and was paid either by transfers of funds onto Green Dot cards or by cash from these co-defendants. Owens also moved contraband internally within BCDC for others. Owens was aware that other co-defendants and many other correctional officers also smuggled contraband.

Owens faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the racketeering conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander scheduled sentencing for January 24, 2014.

The case arose from the efforts of the Maryland Prison Task Force, a group of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors that met regularly for more than two years and generated recommendations to reform prison procedures. The investigation is continuing.

U.S. Attorney Rosenstein recognized the efforts of the other members of the Maryland Prison Task Force, including: Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department; United States Marshal Johnny Hughes; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; Tom Carr, Director of the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; and Dave Engel, Executive Director of the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Baltimore Police Department, and Maryland Prison Task Force, for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Robert R. Harding and Ayn B. Ducao, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

Updated January 26, 2015