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

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Former Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty For Role In Bribery Conspiracy Involving Contraband Cellphones Smuggled Into The Indiana County Jail

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former resident of Home, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery of a public official, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

Alex Lewis, 26, entered guilty pleas today before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

On November 13, 2020, a federal grand jury returned a five-count Indictment against Lewis, a former corrections officer at the Indiana County Jail (ICJ), and Rashon Richardson, a federal detainee housed at ICJ pursuant to a contract with the United States Marshals Service. During his plea hearing today, Lewis admitted that between June and August 2019, he accepted multiple bribes from Richardson. As part of the conspiracy, Lewis admitted that Richardson used an intermediary outside ICJ to meet with him 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 admitted smuggling multiple contraband cellphones into ICJ for use by Richardson and other federal detainees housed at the facility.

“As a corrections officer, Mr. Lewis accepted bribes to facilitate the smuggling of cell phones into the Indiana County Jail,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman. “His corrupt actions demonstrated his complete lack of integrity and compromised the security of the facility where he worked. This office will continue to investigate and prosecute public officials who pursue self-enrichment at the expense of their solemn duty to protect the community.”

“Mr. Lewis abused his position as a corrections officer to line his own pocket,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. “By his actions today, he admits to failing to act with integrity. The FBI is committed to making sure those who violate the public’s trust are held accountable.”

The law provides for a maximum sentence of not more than five (5) years in prison for the conspiracy charge, fifteen (15) years for the bribery charge, and a fine of not more than $250,000 per count. 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 defendant.

Richardson has pleaded not guilty, and his case remains pending before Judge Bissoon. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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.

Public Corruption
Updated July 15, 2021