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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Monday, August 27, 2018

Correctional Officer Sentenced To Over 4 Years In Federal Prison For A Racketeering Conspiracy At Eastern Correctional Institution

Correctional Officer Also Participated in the Stabbing of an Inmate

                                                                                      Contact MARCIA MURPHY                                            at (410) 209-4854


Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Correctional Officer Rachelle Hankerson, age 28, of Salisbury, Maryland, on August 24, 2018, to 52 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a racketeering conspiracy operating at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland, and for deprivation of rights under color of law for participating in the stabbing of an inmate.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Postal Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Secretary Stephen T. Moyer of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; and Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.

“As demonstrated by today’s sentence, public servants who violate their duty for personal gain will be held accountable. We will continue to work closely with state officials to root out and prosecute correctional officers who bring cell phones, drugs and other contraband into correctional facilities,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.

According to court documents, the Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) is the largest state prison in Maryland, operating since 1987 near Westover, in Somerset County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. During the conspiracy, Hankerson was a Correctional Officer (CO) at ECI.

Hankerson admitted that she accepted payments from facilitators and inmates to smuggle contraband into ECI, including narcotics, cell phones and tobacco.  Hankerson charged at least $500 per package of contraband she smuggled into ECI.  Hankerson also admitted that she approached a co-defendant who was a member of the Bloods gang at ECI for whom she smuggled contraband, and asked the inmate to confront inmate D.S., with whom Hankerson had had a verbal dispute.  Hankerson twice allowed her co-defendant onto the tier where D.S. was housed.  The second time that the co-defendant entered D.S.’s cell he violently attacked D.S., stabbing him multiple times.  Another inmate told Hankerson about the violent confrontation, but rather than notifying prison authorities, Hankerson left the area.  She later told an inmate to provide a false story to prison authorities that Hankerson had not been on the tier when the attack occurred.  Law enforcement intercepted multiple calls in which Hankerson and others working with her discussed contraband, arranging meetings with correctional officers, and payment for contraband. 

Of the 80 defendants charged in this case, 77 have been convicted, including 16 of the 18 correctional officers charged.  All the defendants who have been sentenced to date have been ordered to serve a term of imprisonment, ranging from a year and a day in prison to 65 months in prison.

The U.S. Attorney expressed appreciation to Secretary Moyer, whose staff initiated the ECI investigation and who has made the full resources of the DPSCS available to assist the three-year investigation.  U.S. Attorney Hur also commended the efforts of the Maryland Prison Task Force which has brought together federal, state and local agencies in meetings to generate reforms in prison procedures and facilitate joint investigations of prison corruption and prison gangs.  Mr. Hur thanked the members of the Maryland Prison Task Force and the other agencies who assisted in this investigation and prosecution.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo J. Wise, Robert R. Harding, and Daniel C. Gardner, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

Updated August 27, 2018