Final Four Defendants, Including Former Correctional Officer, Plead Guilty to Federal Racketeering Conspiracy Charge in Connection With a Prison Corruption Scheme at Jessup Correctional Institution
All 15 Defendants Charged in a Conspiracy to Smuggle Contraband into the Prison Have Now Pleaded Guilty
Greenbelt, Maryland – A former Correctional Officer, two inmates, and an outside “facilitator” have pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering conspiracy at the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI), involving inmates and outside facilitators paying bribes to correctional officers to smuggle contraband, including narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, and cell phones into the prison. As a result of the guilty pleas entered yesterday and today, all 15 defendants charged in this case have now pleaded guilty. The following individuals entered their guilty pleas this week:
Former Correctional Officer Dominique Booker, age 45, of Baltimore;
Inmates William Cox, a/k/a Dollar, age 45 and Vernard Majette a/k/a Nard, age 40; and
Facilitator Vonda Bolden, age 57, of Baltimore.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Secretary Robert Green, of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
JCI is a maximum-security prison located in Jessup, Maryland.
According to the defendants’ plea agreements, Booker, Cox, Majette, and Bolden conspired with other COs, inmates, and outside facilitators to smuggle contraband into JCI, including narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, and cell phones. According to their plea agreements and other court documents, COs accepted or agreed to accept payments from facilitators and/or inmates as consideration for smuggling contraband into JCI. Inmates acted as both wholesalers and retailers of contraband, often obtaining profits that far exceeded the profits that could be made by selling similar drugs on the street.
During the investigation, law enforcement intercepted phone calls and text messages in which the defendants discussed contraband to be smuggled into JCI, as well as the payment of bribes. Several of the inmate defendants, including Cox and Majette, had contraband cell phones, which they used to facilitate their smuggling activities. As detailed in her plea agreement, CO Booker conspired with inmate Cox, with whom she had a romantic relationship, and others, to smuggle contraband, including controlled dangerous substances, such as Suboxone, into JCI and then distribute the contraband to inmates. In January 2019, a search of Booker and her vehicle as she entered JCI revealed contraband, including plastic baggies containing the synthetic cannabinoid K-2, which she intended to smuggle into the prison.
As detailed in Bolden’s plea agreement, she was the facilitator for her son and co-defendant, inmate Marshall Hill, a/k/a “Boosie.” Bolden admitted that at Hill’s direction she made bribe payments, obtained contraband, met with co-conspirators to deliver contraband, and communicated with other JCI inmates to facilitate the movement of contraband within JCI.
The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the racketeering conspiracy. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for Booker and Cox on June 7, 2022; for Bolden on July 29, 2022; and for Majette on August 1, 2022.
The other 11 defendants previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy. Nine of those defendants have been sentenced, including Marshall Hill, a/k/a “Boosie,” age 30, who pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced to four years in federal prison.
The U.S. Attorney expressed appreciation to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, whose staff initiated the JCI investigation and have been full partners in this investigation.
This case is also part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. Rigali, who is prosecuting this case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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