Providence VA Service Representative Indicted on Federal Extortion, Bribery, Witness Tampering Charges
PROVIDENCE - A Donald W. Wyatt (Wyatt) Detention Center inmate has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and a concurrent term of 24 months in federal prison for attempting to possess a controlled substance and possessing an 8-inch shank while detained at the Wyatt Detention Center.
On Wednesday, Jason Jones, 25, was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to serve two years supervised release upon completion of his term of incarceration.
According to information presented to the Court, in July 2017, Newport Police Department detectives arrested Jones when, during a pre-arranged meeting to sell an individual a firearm, Jones, a convicted felon, was found to be in possession of a loaded semi-automatic handgun.
On July 18, 2017, Jones was charged by way of a federal indictment with felon in possession of a firearm, and he subsequently pled guilty to that charge. In November 2018, Jones was ordered detained at the Wyatt Detention Facility for violating conditions of his release.
While Jones was detained at the Wyatt Detention Center, the U.S. Marshals Service notified the FBI that Jones was believed to be conspiring to smuggle drugs into the facility. An outgoing letter sent by Jones to his girlfriend, Joselin Tavarez, 45, of Providence, and obtained by the FBI, included instructions on how to put what was believed to be strips of suboxone on incoming mail. Jones directed her to make the mail appear to be legal mail coming from his attorney, then an Assistant Federal Defender. Additionally, during several prison telephone conversations, Jones also instructed his girlfriend to send contraband into the facility.
At the request of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Rhode Island Department of Health analyzed several items of incoming mail addressed to Jones, three of which were confirmed to contain MMB-FUBINACA, a Schedule I controlled substance.
Additionally, in February 2019, during a search of Jones’ cell and mattress, guards discovered an 8-inch shank tucked inside a slit in the mattress.
Joselin Tavarez, signed a plea agreement, and has been charged by way of an information with providing and attempting to provide a prohibited object, a Scheduled I controlled substance, to an inmate of a prison. Her change of plea has yet to be scheduled.
An information is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Jones’ sentence and the charge against Joselin Tavarez are announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Newport Police Chief Gary T. Silva, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Kelly D. Brady, Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, and Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Hebert.
The matter involving Jones’ possession of firearm was investigated by the Newport Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The matters involving Jones and Tavarez’s alleged criminal activity of providing a Schedule I controlled substance to Jones while incarcerated at the Wyatt Detention Center and Jones’ possession of an 8-inch shank while incarcerated at the Wyatt Detention Center were investigated by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and officials from the Wyatt Detention Center.