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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 16, 2020

Former Corrections Officer and Federal Detainee Indicted for Bribery Conspiracy Involving Contraband Cellphones Smuggled into the Indiana County Jail

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former resident of Home, Pennsylvania, and a federal detainee housed at the Indiana County Jail (ICJ) have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges related to a bribery conspiracy involving smuggled contraband cellphones, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

The five-count Indictment, returned on November 13 and unsealed today, charges Alex Lewis, 25, and Rashon Richardson, 30, with conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery of a public official, and use of a facility in interstate commerce in aid of bribery. Lewis is also charged with extortion under color of official right.

According to the Indictment, between June and August 2019, Lewis accepted multiple bribes from Rashon Richardson, while Lewis was employed as a corrections officer and Richardson was a federal detainee housed at ICJ pursuant to a contract with the United States Marshals Service. As part of the conspiracy, the Indictment alleges Richardson used an intermediary outside ICJ to meet with Lewis and pay bribes in the form of cash and, on one occasion, via a $400 payment to Lewis’s Cash App account. In return for the bribe payments, Lewis allegedly smuggled multiple contraband cellphones into ICJ for use by Richardson and other federal detainees housed at the facility.

The law provides for a maximum sentence of not more than five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, 15 years for the bribery charges, 20 years for the extortion under color of official right charge, and five years for the use of facilities in interstate commerce in aid of bribery charge. The maximum fine per count in this case is $250,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

Assistant United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case. The Pennsylvania State Police and Indiana County Jail also provided assistance during the course of the investigation.

An Indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Updated November 16, 2020