Convicted for Racketeering and Money Laundering Following Trial of More Than Two Months; a Total of 40 Defendants Have Been Convicted in the Jail Racketeering Conspiracy
BALTIMORE, MD—U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced former correctional officer Ashley Newton, 31, of Baltimore, on July 1, 2015, to 51 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in a racketeering conspiracy and drug conspiracy, involving the smuggling of drugs and contraband inside the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC), and for money laundering conspiracy. Newton was convicted on February 5, 2015, after a more than two month long jury trial.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
“Correctional officers were in bed with inmates, in violation of the first principle of prison management,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
“We remain committed to protecting the public, our employees, and the inmates by aggressively rooting out corruption. We applaud the work of the U.S. Attorney and all of our law enforcement partners in this ongoing effort,” said Secretary Stephen T. Moyer of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
According to trial testimony and court documents, BGF has been the dominant gang at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC), and in several connected facilities, including the Baltimore Central Booking Intake Center, the Women’s Detention Center, which houses many men, and in the Jail Industries Building. Tavon White and other BGF leaders and members incarcerated at BCDC were involved with and often directed the smuggling of contraband into BCDC, including cell phones, tobacco and drugs, through the services of correctional officers (COs), who received payments, gifts, or a share of the profits.
According to evidence presented at trial, Newton was a correctional officer (CO) at the BCDC who smuggled contraband into the jail for distribution by BGF inmates. In return, Newton and other COs received payments, gifts or a share of the profits.
According to trial evidence and other court documents, Newton smuggled drugs and other contraband for a succession of BGF leaders starting as early as 2008. She had long-term sexual relationships with at least two BGF inmates, including Duron Young, a/k/a Pinky. Newton smuggled pills, marijuana and tobacco for Young, and during the conspiracy, Newton smuggled pills for Pinky almost daily. Newton also opened cells doors of inmates for BGF members. For example, on May 19, 2011, Newton opened a grill that allowed a large number of BGF inmates to attack and repeatedly stab an inmate. In 2012, Young became angry at another inmate, whose offense was that he was transporting a lot of contraband around the prison for people other than Young. Newton opened the door of the inmate’s section to permit Young to go in with another BGF gang member and beat up the inmate. Newton also warned the BGF of upcoming prison searches by correctional officers. Newton arranged for money to be sent to inmates and facilitated phone conversations between inmates, including calls from other prisons to BGF leader Tavon White.
This case was developed as a result of the efforts of the Maryland Prison Task Force, formed in 2011 with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors. The Task Force has met regularly for over three years, generating recommendations to reform prison procedures and producing leads that have been pursued by state, local and federal criminal investigators. Investigations are continuing.
Forty of the 44 defendants charged in the racketeering conspiracy have been convicted, including 24 correctional officers. Thirty-five defendants pleaded guilty and five defendants were convicted after trial. Three defendants were acquitted and one defendant died.
To date, 22 of the correctional officers, including Newton, have been sentenced to up to 51 months in prison.
BGF leader Tavon White, age 37, pleaded guilty to his participation in the racketeering conspiracy and testified at the trial and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Inmates and leaders in the BGF gang, Russell Carrington, a/k/ Rutt, age 34, and Joseph Young, a/k/a Monster, age 33, both of Baltimore, were convicted after trial and sentenced to 210 months in prison and 15 years in prison, respectively.