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Justice News

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thirteen Former West Texas Prison Employees Indicted For Accepting Bribes In Exchange For Smuggling Contraband Into Federal Detention Facility

Federal authorities arrested 12 former Ector County Correctional Center (ECCC) guards and one former ECCC employee this morning for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for smuggling contraband to inmates inside the federal detention facility announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan, El Paso Division.

The defendants are individually named in 13 federal grand jury indictments returned on January 23, 2013, and unsealed today.  The indictments allege that during 2011 and 2012, the correctional officers, as well as Barbara Garrett, a food service worker, smuggled in contraband to inmates, including cell phones and chargers as well as tobacco and marijuana, in exchange for cash in knowing violation of their official duties.  Those indicted and arrested include:

Jovanna Marie Olivarez, age 21, of Odessa;
Matthew Ryan Williams, age 20, of Odessa;
Dennis Earl Newsome, age 63, of Austin, TX;
Charlette Smith, age 46, of Odessa;
Nancy Torres Morales, age 36, of Odessa;
Valerie Ann Arenivas, age 22, of Odessa;
Gabriel Angel Navarette, age 23, of Odessa;
Jennifer Armida Lopez, age 25, of Odessa;
Jessica Lucia Smith, age 33, of Monahans, TX;
Jazmine Desiree Cruz, age 19, of Odessa;
Jonathon Wayne Meza, age 29, of Odessa;
Barbara Jean Garrett, age 52, of Andrews, TX; and,
Ashley Dawn Clark, age 29, of Crane, TX.

Each defendant is charged with one count of accepting a bribe.  Upon conviction, each defendant faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by agents with Federal Bureau of Investigation together with investigators from the  Odessa Police Department and the Ector County Sheriff’s Office along with cooperation from the United States Marshals Service and ECCC.  Assistant United States Attorney John Klassen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Updated December 15, 2014