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Press Release

Former Monroe Prison Guard Sentenced for Smuggling Contraband into Facility

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Corrections Department says Defendant Smuggled Drugs even after Inmate Died from Overdose

          A former Washington State Correctional Officer from the Monroe Correctional Complex was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 18 months in prison for his scheme to smuggle contraband into the prison, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. MICHAEL W. BOWDEN, 31, of Everett, Washington pleaded guilty January 9, 2017, to extortion under color of official right. At the sentencing hearing today U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones told BOWDEN, “you were in a position of trust and power and it was abused. You compromised the safety of everyone in the facility.”


          “We rely on correctional officers to do their difficult jobs with the utmost in integrity,” said U. S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “When this defendant allowed contraband into the Twin Rivers Unit of the Monroe correctional facility, he breached the public’s trust in ways that harmed Twin Rivers staff and prisoners alike. The fact is that in 2016, the Twin Rivers Unit where this defendant worked saw a 600% increase in inmates testing positive for drugs. We simply can’t have prison staff be a part of that problem, and are committed to holding those who are to account.”


          According to records in the case, the Department of Corrections Intelligence and Investigations Unit asked the FBI to become involved in the investigation of contraband smuggling in December 2015. Using confidential sources inside and outside the Monroe Correctional Complex, agents determined BOWDEN was accepting bribes of up to $1,000 to smuggle contraband into the prison. On three different occasions between July and September 2016, BOWDEN smuggled tobacco, a SIM card, and what he believed was methamphetamine into an inmate at the prison. In each of those three instances, the inmate turned the contraband over to investigators.


          “The Washington Department of Corrections appreciates the efforts and expediency of the U.S. Attorney’s office in prosecuting former Officer Bowden,” said Assistant Secretary Stephen Sinclair of the Washington Department of Corrections. “Our correctional system prides itself on the safety and security of our officers, staff, and incarcerated population. We have no tolerance for misdeeds committed by the few, and appreciate the hard, dutiful work of the thousands of uniformed and non-uniformed staff in our facilities.”


          In a letter to the court, the head of the Monroe Correctional Complex described how contraband puts people at risk. He noted that shortly before BOWDEN smuggled sham methamphetamine into the prison, an inmate had died of a meth overdose at the facility, when he tried to hide his stash of the drug. That incident was well known to BOWDEN even as he made arrangements to smuggle more meth into the facility. “Any contraband inside a prison is a serious issue, however, the specific presence of methamphetamine inside the prison endangers inmates and staff to additional risk as trades are made and debts are accrued, which often leads to increased violence,” Michael Obenland, Superintendent of the Monroe Correctional Complex wrote to the court.


          The case was investigated by the FBI in partnership with the Washington State Department of Corrections Intelligence and Investigations Unit.


          The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Arnold.


Updated March 31, 2017

Drug Trafficking
Public Corruption