Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty to Federal Racketeering Charge Related to Maryland Correctional Institute Jessup

Correctional Officer Janel Griffin, age 41, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to a federal racketeering charge for participating in a scheme to smuggle contraband into the Maryland Correctional Institute Jessup (MCIJ), including narcotics, unauthorized flash drives, tobacco, and cell phones into the prison.  Inmate Corey Alston, a/k/a “C,” age 29, pleaded guilty on September 18, 2019, to the same charge.

The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Secretary Robert L. Green, of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

“This case demonstrates that we will not tolerate employees in positions of trust violating their oaths.  Federal, state, and local officials will continue to work together to root out corrupt employees and others who undermine the administration of justice at our prisons,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.

According to court documents, MCIJ was a medium-security prison in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, that housed approximately 1,100 male inmates, with 262 custody staff or Correctional Officers (COs) and 52 non-custody staff, including case management, medical, and administrative staff.

According to her plea agreement, Griffin smuggled contraband into MCIJ for at least inmate Corey Alston, including narcotics and tobacco.  At Alston’s direction, Griffin met with co-conspirator facilitators, including Tyirisha Johnson, to receive contraband as well as bribe payments.  Recorded jail calls between Alston and others confirm that between April 16 and August 14, 2017, Griffin met with Johnson or another facilitator on at least six occasions to obtain contraband and at least $2,800 in bribe payments.  Griffin smuggled the contraband, including Suboxone and Percocet, into MCIJ.

Inmate Corey Alston admitted that he was a leader in the racketeering conspiracy.  As detailed in the plea agreement, Alston conspired with four outside facilitators, including Johnson, who obtained and packaged contraband, met with the correction officers and employees to provide contraband and bribe payments, and managed the proceeds of illegal contraband sales for Alston.  According to his plea agreement Griffin and another MCIJ employee brought the contraband into the prison for Alston, in exchange for bribe payments, and Alston conspired with another inmate to sell the contraband to other inmates.

Alston was overheard by law enforcement on a series of recorded calls arranging for contraband to be smuggled into MCIJ and arranging payment for the contraband and for bribes.

Griffin and Alston each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for Griffin on February 6, 2020, at 1:00 p.m.  Tyirisha Johnson, age 23, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy on July 23, 2019.  Johnson and Alston are also expected to be sentenced in February 2020.

This case arose from the efforts of the Maryland Prison Task Force, coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and comprised of local, state, and federal stakeholders that meet regularly to share information and generate recommendations to reform prison procedures and attack the gang problem that has plagued Maryland in recent years.  The work of the Task Force previously resulted in the federal convictions of more than 80 defendants, including 16 correctional officers, at the Eastern Correctional Institution, and 40 defendants, including 24 correctional officers, at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for their work in the investigation. The U.S. Attorney expressed appreciation to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, whose staff initiated the MCIJ investigation and have been full partners in this investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren E. Perry and Sean R. Delaney, who are prosecuting this case.