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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Inmate Sentenced to Over Four Years in Federal Prison and Second Inmate Pleads Guilty For Participation in a Racketeering Conspiracy at Maryland Correctional Institution Jessup

Conspired with Correctional Employees and Outside Facilitators to Smuggle Contraband Into Prison

Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis sentenced inmate Todd Holloway, age 36, today to 50 months in federal prison, consecutive to the state sentence he is currently serving, followed by three years of supervised release, for a racketeering conspiracy charge related to his participation in a scheme to smuggle contraband into the Maryland Correctional Institution Jessup (MCIJ), including narcotics, unauthorized flash drives, tobacco, and cell phones into the prison.

Inmate Irving Hernandez, age 27, pleaded guilty to the same charge yesterday.

The sentence and guilty plea 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 L. Green, of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

According to court documents, MCIJ was a medium-security prison in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, that housed approximately 1,100 male inmates, with 262 custody staff or Correctional Officers (COs) and 52 non-custody staff, including case management, medical, and administrative staff.

As detailed in his plea agreement, Holloway conspired with individuals outside the facility who obtained and packaged contraband, including, Suboxone Strips, K2, and tobacco, met with employees, and managed the proceeds of contraband sales for Holloway.  The contraband was brought into MCIJ by exterminator Ricky McNeely in exchange for bribe payments.

For example, at Holloway’s direction, McNeely met with a facilitator co-conspirator on June 10, 2017 to obtain a bribe payment and contraband, which McNeely subsequently brought into MCIJ and provided to Holloway.  The following week, McNeely again met with a facilitator co-conspirator to obtain additional contraband and bribe payment.  On June 19, 2017, McNeely brought Suboxone, K2, and tobacco, into MCIJ.  While McNeely was in the library attempting to plant the contraband, a correctional officer saw McNeely dropping K2.  A subsequent search revealed 215 Suboxone strips, heroin, fentanyl, cocaine base, and K2, all of which was intended to be delivered to Holloway and other co-conspirators. 

According to Hernandez’s plea agreement, he conspired with MCIJ Contract Nurse Joseph Nwancha, who brought contraband, including K2, pills, tobacco, and cell phones into the facility in exchange for bribe payments.  On November 28, 2017, co-defendant Joseph Nwancha was stopped at MCIJ in possession of approximately 230 grams of K2 intended for MCIJ inmates.  A cell phone recovered from Nwancha was subsequently searched and revealed numerous text message conversations between Hernandez and Nwancha discussing bribe payments and smuggling contraband into MCIJ.  For example, on October 28, 2017, Nwancha agreed to bring K2 into MCIJ in exchange for $1,000.  On October 30, 2017, Hernandez, through a co-conspirator, wired Nwancha a $700 bribe via Western Union.  On November 3, 2017, Hernandez sent Nwancha a text message stating that he was going to “start sending a good amount [of contraband] every week.”  Nwancha agreed to bring K2 and tobacco into the facility for Hernandez in exchange for $1,000 per week.

Hernandez faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy.  Judge Xinis scheduled sentencing for Irving Hernandez on May 26, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.

In addition to Holloway and Hernandez, 15 other defendants—six outside facilitators, five prison employees, and four inmates—have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy, including Ricky McNeely and Joseph Nwancha.  Seven defendants are awaiting sentencing and three defendants are pending trial.  

This case arose from the efforts of the Maryland Prison Task Force, coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and comprised of local, state, and federal stakeholders that meet regularly to share information and generate recommendations to reform prison procedures and attack the gang problem that has plagued Maryland in recent years.  The work of the Task Force previously resulted in the federal convictions of more than 78 defendants, including 16 correctional officers, at the Eastern Correctional Institution, and 40 defendants, including 24 correctional officers, at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for their work in the investigation. The U.S. Attorney expressed appreciation to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, whose staff initiated the MCIJ investigation and have been full partners in this investigation.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean R. Delaney, 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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Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated February 16, 2022