Former FCI Ray Brook Corrections Officer Admits Accepting Bribe
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Carlos Ochoa, age 32, of Puerto Rico, pled guilty today to accepting a bribe in exchange for smuggling a cell phone to an inmate at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Ray Brook.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Guido Modano, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ OIG).
As part of his plea, Ochoa admitted that from approximately September 2012 to October 2012, while employed as a corrections officer at FCI Ray Brook in Ray Brook, New York, he accepted cash to smuggle a cell phone and charger to inmate Richard Coleman.
United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith stated: “For a few hundred dollars, Ochoa sold his integrity as a federal corrections officer to a prisoner by smuggling in a cell phone. His brazen violation of prison rules risked the safety of all who worked in the prison. As thousands of officers protect us with courage and integrity, we will continue to work with the FBI, DOJ OIG, and the Bureau of Prisons to prosecute the few corrections officers who put illicit personal profit before public trust and prison security.”
“Any law enforcement officer who violates their oath to protect the community and instead takes part in criminal activity should expect the same outcome as a criminal," said James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “This case serves as a reminder that no one is above the law and that the FBI is committed to working with the law enforcement community to prevent the erosion of trust that accompanies incidents like this one.”
DOJ OIG Special Agent in Charge Modano stated: “Ochoa abused a position of trust for personal gain and by doing so risked the security of FCI Ray Brook. The DOJ OIG is committed to rooting out such corruption within our federal prison system.”
On September 27, 2012, Coleman directed his then-girlfriend, Kara Coneeny, to purchase a cell phone for him to use while incarcerated at FCI Ray Brook, a medium-security federal prison in Essex County that houses more than 700 inmates. On October 1, 2012, Coleman told Coneeny that an employee at FCI Ray Brook would smuggle the phone into the prison for money. Coleman directed Coneeny to contact Kia Barnes, a friend of Coleman’s cellmate, Nathaniel Bernard.
On October 6, 2012, as directed by Coleman, Coneeny purchased an iPhone 4S and iPhone chargers. On October 17, 2012, Coneeny withdrew $500 cash from her account at an ATM and on October 18, 2012, Coneeny activated the iPhone and withdrew another $400 cash from her account.
On October 19, 2012, Coneeny drove to Saranac Lake, New York, met with Barnes, and gave Barnes the iPhone and at least $600 cash. On October 21, 2012, Barnes met with Ochoa and gave him the iPhone and cash.
On October 21, 2012, Ochoa smuggled the iPhone into FCI Ray Brook and gave it to Coleman and Bernard, while keeping the cash. Officers found the cell phone on March 8, 2013.
Ochoa faces up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.
This case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Kopita and Douglas Collyer.
In U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, Ochoa faces unrelated charges of bribery, providing contraband in prison, and gun and drug charges. He is innocent of those charges unless and until proven guilty.