More corrections officers plead guilty in BGF gang conspiracy

One officer sentenced to 28 months in prison; five others, inmate and drug supplier plead guilty

September 12, 2014|By Kevin Rector | The Baltimore Sun

Six more corrections officers who helped the Black Guerrilla Family gang operate a drug-smuggling and racketeering enterprise from inside the Baltimore City Detention Center have pleaded guilty or received sentencing in the past two weeks, continuing a trend of guilty pleas in the sweeping federal crackdown at the jail.

Others implicated in the case also pleaded guilty recently, including a marijuana supplier and an inmate who had admitted to having a sexual relationship with a corrections officer as part of his role directing smuggled contraband through the facility with the complicity of officers, the office of Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said.

The investigation, which broke publicly last year, involved wire-tapped conversations of inmates, including BGF leader Tavon White, that outlined a degree of power held by the BGF within the facility that shocked Maryland legislators and members of the public, and brought national scrutiny to the state's corrections department.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced former corrections officer Sean Graves, 48, of Windsor Mill to 28 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his participation in the conspiracy, including smuggling the painkiller Percocet, marijuana and tobacco into the jail from 2011 to 2013 for White.

Graves worked in concert with other corrections officers, Rosenstein's office said.

Earlier this week, four former corrections officers — Angela Johnson, 35; Antonia Allison, 28; and Javonne Lunkin, 29, all of Baltimore; and Kevin Armstrong, 27, of Gwynn Oak — pleaded guilty to participating in the same conspiracy to assist the BGF in drug smuggling.

Among the items the officers admitted to collectively smuggling into the jail were Percocet, the painkiller Suboxone and other prescription pills, marijuana, cellphones and tobacco. Several of the officers also admitted to being aware of sexual relationships between officers and inmates.

To date, 34 of 44 defendants named in the federal conspiracy case — including 21 corrections officers and Tavon White — have pleaded guilty, Rosenstein's office said.

Last week, one former corrections officer, Tiffany Linder, 28, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy.

Also last week, former inmate Derius Duncan, 24, of Baltimore pleaded guilty to the conspiracy, admitting in a plea agreement that he is a BGF member who "directed the smuggling of contraband into the jail, including cell phones, tobacco and other drugs, through [corrections officers] who received payments, gifts or a share of the profits," Rosenstein's office said.

"Duncan had a sexual relationship with one of the [corrections officers] involved in contraband trafficking," Rosenstein's office said. "Duncan and his closest BGF allies frequently used others to obtain contraband outside the prison, and hold it or deliver it to [corrections officers] for smuggling."

One of those outside suppliers was Linnard "Stu" Wortham, 29, of Pikesville, who also pleaded guilty last week to supplying marijuana that was smuggled into the jail by corrections officers. In November 2013, law enforcement raided Wortham's home and seized $4,000 worth of crack cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, Rosenstein's office said.

Hollander has scheduled sentencing for the officers, Duncan and Wortham in January and February. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison on conspiracy charges. Wortham faces a mandatory 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison for the drug charge.

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