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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Former Correctional Officer at Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon Pleads Guilty

Robert Jones, Justin Brown Admit to Public Corruption Charges

Abingdon, VIRGINIA – Two men, one a correctional officer at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon, who agreed to smuggle a variety of contraband items into the facility pled guilty today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to federal public corruption charges, Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle announced.

 

Justin Andrew Brown, 23, Lebanon, Va., pled guilty today to one count of accepting a bribe as a public official, and one count of conspiring to accept a bribe as a public official. Robert Lewis Jones, 25, of Lebanon, Va., pled guilty to one count of conspiring to accept a bribe as a public official.

 

According to evidence presented at today’s guilty plea hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Zachary T. Lee, Brown was a correctional officer at Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon. In the summer of 2015, an inmate approached Brown about smuggling contraband, specifically tobacco, controlled substances and nude pictures into the jail. Following numerous discussions with the inmate, Brown agreed to smuggle controlled substances, tobacco and nude pictures into Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in exchange for $10,000 in United States currency. Law enforcement agents became aware of Brown’s plan in March of 2016. With the assistance of a cooperating witness, law enforcement arranged for a meeting between Brown and the cooperating witness at which Brown believed he would be receiving $10,000 in United States currency and various contraband items that he was to smuggle into the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail. Brown offered Jones $2,000 to “watch his back” during the meeting.

 

The meeting between Brown, Jones, and the cooperating witness occurred on March 22, 2016, at a restaurant in Abingdon. At the meeting, Jones and Brown took possession of the contraband items and a quantity of United States currency and Brown agreed to smuggle the contraband items into the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail facility. Shortly thereafter, law enforcement arrested both Brown and Jones.

 

The investigation of the case was conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Abingdon Police Department, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Zachary T. Lee prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated August 8, 2017