FBI: Delaware prison guards confessed to smuggling drugs, phones to inmates

DOVER — Two Delaware Department of Correction officers admitted to smuggling drugs and cell phones to more than two dozen inmates for bribes, authorities alleged in documents unsealed Thursday.

Dover residents Thomas Nadill Boyce Jr. and Paul Hursey, both 46, confessed during interviews with the FBI in connection with activity at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, according to separate criminal complaints.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware Charles M. Oberly III announced the arrests, along with a charge against correctional officer Lorraine M. Mosley for allegedly providing a cell phone to an inmate at Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution.

On Friday, the Delaware Department of Justice said a 32-year-old Correctional Officer was arrested on the state level in connection with the investigation.

Danielle (Riley) Baker, of Millsboro, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with two counts of official misconduct.

According to the DOJ, DOC investigators determined Ms. Baker allegedly engaged in a personal relationship with one inmate and accepted $200 from another inmate at JTVCC. The DOC made the arrest.

A U.S. Attorney spokeswoman said the defendants were appointed federal public defenders.

Officials said investigation is ongoing.

DOC spokeswoman Chelsea Hicks said she was “not at liberty to say” whether any inmates or other staff had been disciplined or charged in any way related to the investigation. She said inmates making bribes and receiving contraband are eligible to be formally charged at the discretion of the Delaware State Police.

When announcing the arrests, federal officials noted that the charges in the complaint were only allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Employment status

In court papers, the FBI said Ms. Mosley was placed on paid suspension by the DOC during a six-week period beginning on June 15, 2015. She resigned prior the being charged, officials said.

On Friday, the DOC said Mr. Hursey, Mr. Boyce and Ms. Baker are currently on leave without pay.

“The duties of the officers have been reassigned in the sense that each officer has the ability to work at any post they are assigned to,” Ms. Hicks said.

Also on Friday, Gov. Jack Markell’s office acknowledged the arrests and expressed confidence “that they are being addressed with appropriate seriousness and urgency.

“The DOC has many dedicated and hard-working employees who serve our state with distinction. He shares Commissioner (Robert M.) Coupe’s concern that a small number of employees who violated security protocols put the safety and security of their fellow staffers, visitors and inmates at risk.

“He is encouraged by DOC’s commitment to incorporate lessons learned from this case to ensure that it continues to provide the very best protection for everyone who comes into contact with our prisons and for the general public.”

The charges fell under the federal jurisdiction under the Hobbs Act. The United States Attorney said criminal complaint brings extortion charges that carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Mr. Boyce and Mr. Hursey were released on bail after appearing before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Mary Pat Thynge.

Feds detail interviews

In court documents the FBI claimed Mr. Boyce admitted to smuggling drugs and cell phones into JTVCC for the past four to five years, mostly when assigned to the prison’s infirmary from 2011 through 2014.

“He smuggled in drugs and cell phones by hiding them under the soles of his boots,” the FBI wrote about Mr. Boyce’s statement.

“He would hide the cell phone charger in his waistband and cover it with his duty belt.”

According to the FBI, Mr. Boyce identified 16 inmates to which he had smuggled in drugs and/or cell phones for.

Once, according to Mr. Boyce in the interview on June 2, 2015, he received $500 after smuggling five bundles of heroin and a half ounce of marijuana into the prison.

The FBI alleged in documents that Mr. Boyce reported that he last smuggled contraband in the fall of 2014, delivering two cell phones and marijuana for $1,000.

In an interview on Nov. 16, 2015, the FBI alleged in the criminal complaint that while Mr. Hursey admitted to smuggling contraband, he “could not remember all of the details surrounding each episode, nor could he remember the identities of all the inmates he dealt with.”

Joint investigation

The arrests were made during a joint FBI and Department of Correction investigation into corruption within detention facilities, officials said.

According to the DOC, staff had seized cell phones and drugs weekly during 2012 to 2014, and more than 70 smuggled cell phones were detected in 2015.

According to the FBI, an investigation of Mr. Boyce began after information was received from a confidential source in December 2013. In papers, he was described as hired by the DOC in 1995 and assigned to JTVCC in 2002.

The source claimed that Mr. Boyce is a Senior Sergeant Corrections Officer, according to papers, and allegedly delivered contraband to inmates while working in the infirmary.

The FBI was told that “Boyce only conducts smuggling activities with a select number of trusted JTVCC inmates, who, in turn, distribute the prison contraband to other inmates,” the complaint maintained.

The source alleged that Mr. Boyce typically charged $500 for a smuggling transaction, according to the FBI.

Though smuggled cell phones, the source claimed, inmates would arrange smuggling operations including heroin, cocaine, prescription pills and marijuana, and more cell phones.

In the complaint, the FBI detailed numerous intercepted exchanges between Mr. Boyce and an unidentified man allegedly attempting to arrange contraband pickups in Rehoboth Beach, Midway movie theaters in Lewes and the Dover Mall,

Unsolicited tip

The case against Mr. Hursey, according to the FBI, began on July 10, 2015 when a DOC lieutenant “received a signed, unsolicited handwritten letter written from a JTVCC inmate in which he claimed to know about a corrupt Corrections Officer who is smuggling drugs and cell phones into the JTVCC inmate population in exchange for monetary payments.”

Further investigation located a 10-digit cell phone number listed as assigned to Mr. Hursey, the FBI said in documents,

The inmate, who could not initially identify the Correction Officer in question by name, later picked Mr. Hursey from several photos, including his Delaware driver’s license.

As the probe continued, according to the FBI, inmates described alleged contraband smuggling efforts by Mr. Hursey.

An inmate described Mr. Hursey as allegedly “making a lot of money” on the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, the FBI said.

After contact by FBI agents at his home on Nov. 16, 2015, according to papers, Mr. Hursey “initially denied smuggling contraband into JTVCC but was then made aware that federal agents had been investigating him and aware that he had smuggled drugs and cell phones into JTVCC in exchange for monetary payments.”

In an interview in its Dover office, the FBI alleged in the criminal complaint that while Mr. Hursey then admitted to smuggling contraband, he “could not remember all of the details surrounding each episode, nor could he remember the identities of all the inmates he dealt with.”

During an interview, the FBI alleged that Mr. Hursey identified 10 inmates he smuggled for, with payments up to $2,300.

With one inmate, according to the FBI in papers, Mr. Hursey admitted to smuggling in five to six cell phones, a 12-inch long “stick” of compressed illegal drugs (consistent with heroin packaging, authorities said) and a “golf ball” sized package of suspected marijuana.

Mr. Hursey estimated payment a of $900 to $1,200 was made for the transaction, according to the FBI.

Prison bank checks

An inmate told the FBI on Feb. 11, 2016, that alleged payment to Mr. Hursey had been made through a check mailed from his prison bank account to a female with an address in Smyrna.

Another deal involved a prison bank account check mailed to a female at a Dover address, according to the complaint.

“(Mr.) Hursey explained that in order to avoid detection he didn’t want too many checks being mailed to the same address,” the FBI wrote in papers.

In the complaint against Ms. Mosley, the FBI said it was told by an inmate on June 10, 2015 that the correctional officer allegedly agreed to smuggle a cell phone for $100, and arranged to hide the item in a staff bathroom toilet paper holder.

In the complaint against Ms. Mosley, federal authorities referenced surveillance video as evidence.

Ms. Mosley and Mr. Hursey were described as having “rover” status on the job, giving them wide access to inmates, the FBI said in papers.

DOC security measures

As of Friday, Ms. Hicks said the DOC had discovered three cellular devices this year as opposed to 70 found in 2015.

The DOC now uses a cellular detection device that contributed to a 96 percent decrease in the amount of devices that have entered JTVCC, Ms. Hicks said.

While security measures for regarding DOC guards are not under review, Ms. Hicks said, “however, all correctional staff are abreast of the DOC code of conduct and ethics policies.

“All staff are encouraged to provide any information as it relates to misconduct.”

The DOC’s “Security clearance” section of its policy manual states that “any person entering a into a correctional facility is subject to search by the officer assigned to the entry access point area. …

To prevent contraband from entering, the DOC said, metal detector wands are used, and pat searches conducted.

“An additional requirement for entry is the review of all items, included but not limited to jackets, sweaters, bags, etc. via the use of a scanning device for the purpose of revealing concealed items that may be considered contraband,” the DOC policy states.

There are 1,796 employees within DOC facilities.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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