Second ECI Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy and Civil Rights Violation
Admits Civil Rights Violation for His Participation in the Stabbing of an Inmate
Baltimore, Maryland – Correctional Officer Stephen Wise, age 34, of Pocomoke, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to his participation in a racketeering conspiracy operating at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland. Wise also pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation, deprivation of rights under color of law, for participating in the stabbing of an inmate.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Postal Inspector in Charge Terrence P. McKeown 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.
According to his plea agreement and court documents, the Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) is the largest state prison in Maryland, operating near Westover, in Somerset County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. During the conspiracy, Wise was a Correctional Officer (CO) at ECI.
Wise admitted that he accepted bribes from at least eight inmates to smuggle contraband into ECI, including narcotics, cell phones and tobacco. Wise generally charged approximately $500 per package of contraband he smuggled into ECI. Law enforcement intercepted multiple calls and texts in which Wise and the inmates discussed contraband, and arranged payment for contraband.
According to the plea agreement, Wise smuggled contraband in exchange for bribes for a co-defendant, who was a leader of the Dead Man Incorporated (DMI) prison gang at ECI. On July 31, 2016, Wise induced the DMI leader to arrange the assault of an inmate who had filed a complaint against Wise that caused Wise to be removed from the housing unit. At the time he was removed, Wise had been given approximately $1500 by the DMI leader for contraband that he had not yet brought into the unit. Wise told multiple inmates, including the co-defendant, that the inmate who filed the complaint had to be taken out of the unit before Wise could be reassigned there. Wise knew that if an inmate is physically assaulted he is removed from a housing unit for his own safety. On July 31, 2016, the inmate who filed the complaint was assaulted and stabbed by several inmates who were members of the Cripps prison gang, and who had been paid $500 to do so by Wise’s co-defendant.
Wise faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the racketeering conspiracy, and a maximum of 10 years in prison for deprivation of rights under color of law for his participation in the stabbing of an inmate. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has scheduled sentencing for Wise on February 17, 2017 a 10:00 a.m.
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 Rosenstein also recognized 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. Rosenstein thanked the members of the Maryland Prison Task Force and the and other agencies who assisted in this investigation and prosecution.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Baltimore Police Department and Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein 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.