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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 18, 2018

Inmate Convicted Of Conspiracy At Maryland’s Eastern Correctional Institution

70 Defendants That Were Previously Charged Have Pled Guilty

                                                                             

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          Contact ELIZABETH MORSE

www.justice.gov/usao/md                                                     at (410) 209-4885

 

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal jury has convicted Ternell Lucas, a/k/a “T.L.,” a/k/a “Moon,” age 43, with racketeering at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland.  Lucas was found guilty of bribery conspiracy, bribery of a public employee, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute suboxone and K2, and money laundering.

The conviction 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; and Secretary Stephen T. Moyer of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS).

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.  ECI is a medium-security prison for men built as two identical compounds (East and West) on 620 acres, and housing more than 3,300 inmates.  The East and West Compounds are further divided into Housing Units, 1 through 4 in the West and 5 through 8 in the East.  Lucas was an inmate at ECI’s West Compound during the time of the conspiracy.

According to evidence presented at trial, from 2014 until October 5, 2016, correctional officers (COs) smuggled contraband into ECI, including narcotics, cell phones, pornographic DVDs, and tobacco.  These items were distributed by inmates, and the COs managed the proceeds of the sales.  The “going rate” for a CO to smuggle contraband into ECI was $500 per package, although some COs charged more and others charged less.  According to evidence presented at trial, inmates and facilitators paid COs for smuggled contraband in cash, money orders, and through PayPal.  Inmates were able to use contraband cell phones to pay COs directly using PayPal from within ECI.  Inmates also received payments from other inmates for contraband through PayPal, often with the assistance of facilitators. 

According to evidence presented at trial, Lucas acted as both a wholesaler and retailer of contraband and in the process made profits that far exceeded the profits that could be made by selling similar drugs on the street. 

According to evidence presented at trial, ECI employees were required to pass through security screening at the entrance to ECI, but were able to hide contraband on their persons.  Further, Cos took breaks during their shifts and returned to their cars to retrieve contraband.  Once COs had the smuggled contraband inside the facility, they delivered it to: inmates in their cells; clerks’ offices, which were private offices within each housing unit where an inmate clerk worked; the officers’ dining room, where officers could interact with inmate servers and kitchen workers; and pre-arranged “stash” locations such as staff bathrooms, storage closets, laundry rooms, and other places where contraband could be hidden and then later retrieved by inmates.

Lucas faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the racketeering conspiracy, and for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute drugs.

Correctional Officer Rozlyn Bratten, age 32, of Snow Hill, Maryland was acquitted of bribery conspiracy, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute K2.

United States District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for Lucas on August 13, 2018.

As of today’s conviction, 70 of the 80 defendants originally indicted in this case have pled guilty, including 14 of the 18 correctional officers who were charged. 

United States Attorney Hur 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. 

United States Attorney 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 prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

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Updated May 18, 2018