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Press Release

Federal Prisoner Receives An Additional 184 Months’ Imprisonment For Crimes Committed While Incarcerated

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

Mark Nowell Basnight Sentenced to Additional Prison Time for Attempting to Distribute Heroin in Prison and Committing Identity Theft as Part of a Scheme to Defraud Financial Institutions

           GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – United States Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Patrick Miles announced today that Mark Nowell Basnight, age 39, of East Lansing, Michigan, was sentenced yesterday to serve 184 months in prison for attempting to possess heroin with intent to distribute it in a federal prison, and for his role in a scheme to defraud financial institutions that included the production of false identification documents, one of which included the means of identification of a real individual residing in Lansing, Michigan. He was joined in the announcement by FBI Special Agent in Charge, Robert D. Foley. U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker’s sentence provided that all 184 months of imprisonment for these offenses will be served consecutively to the 7 years that remain to be served on Basnight’s 2009 federal court conviction for participating in a conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants. In handing down the sentence, the court emphasized that Basnight committed these offenses while in federal custody and that the evidence revealed that he began planning these or similar
offenses even while he awaited sentencing in 2009.

           In 2011, while incarcerated at a federal prison in West Virginia, Basnight attempted to obtain heroin from a source in Lansing, Michigan, so that he could distribute the heroin for profit in the federal prison. Basnight sent the source a book containing an order for heroin and containing vitamins secreted in the binding so that the source could see how he could send him drugs at the prison. At about the same time, Basnight and the source planned a scheme to defraud at least six financial institutions in several states. The scheme included the production of false identification documents, including driver’s licenses from Michigan and other states that contained the picture of another co-conspirator, who would use these false documents to obtain bank loans by fraud. One of the false identification documents contained the real personal identifiers of an individual residing in Lansing, Michigan, that were obtained by a co-conspirator through an individual that provided cleaning services to a local bank after it closed for the day.

           “One of the primary goals of our federal prison system is to rehabilitate those convicted of federal crimes so that they can return as productive members of our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Miles. “This Office will vigorously prosecute those who choose to thwart this very important goal by continuing to commit crimes while serving time in our federal prisons.” FBI Special Agent in Charge, Robert D. Foley, agreed, stating, “This case is particularly troubling given that a federal prisoner committed identity theft, rather than taking steps toward being rehabilitated. Those individuals who choose to conduct further criminal activity while serving time in our federal prisons will face severe penalties for their illegal actions.”

           The investigation of this case, which resulted in the conviction of five individuals in addition to Basnight, was conducted by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Stella.


Updated April 14, 2015