Billings Man Sentenced for Role in Deer Lodge Prison Conspiracy
MISSOULA – Cordero Robert Metzker, 28, of Billings, Montana, was sentenced today to 36 months’ imprisonment and five years’ supervised release for conspiring to distribute controlled substances—methamphetamine and Suboxone—in the Montana State Prison. Chief United States District Court Judge Dana L. Christensen issued the sentence.
The charge stemmed from a scheme whereby prison employee Erin Bernhardt smuggled the controlled substances to inmates at the prison in exchange for bribes. Metzker acted as an intermediary, sending funds that were used to purchase drugs, which were then sent to Bernhardt.
The charge against Metzker is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspector, the Montana Department of Corrections-Division of Investigations, Montana State Prison Warden Leroy Kirkegard and his staff, and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations prosecuted the case.
“This investigation represents a successful example of federal and state agencies and investigators working together to root out corruption,” said United States attorney for the District of Montana Michael Cotter. “This type of abuse within a public prison system cannot be tolerated, and the effective prosecution of these defendants demonstrates that it will not be.”
The case was prosecuted by Criminal Chief Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Thaggard and Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Starnes and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspector, the Montana Department of Corrections, Montana State Prison Warden Leroy Kirkegard and his staff, and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations.