Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Kingpin in court. The feds say an inmate impregnated four correctional officers and masterminded a criminal empire from behind bars. He and one of the jail guards whom he impregnated appeared in court Monday afternoon.
Mike Hellgren has the latest on the case.
The corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center is still capturing national attention. Federal prosecutors say a gang was allowed to run its operations from jail with the help of more than a dozen correctional officers.
Federal authorities say Tavon White, a member of the notorious Black Guerrilla Family gang, essentially ran the Baltimore City Detention Center as his own kingdom, using cell phones for drug deals and recruiting correctional officers to help.
They say he preyed on those with “low self-esteem, insecurities and certain physical attributes.”
He pleaded not guilty in federal court and is now being held in solitary confinement in Cumberland.
Federal prosecutors say White impregnated four correctional officers.
One of those correctional officers, Tiffany Linder–who is currently eight months pregnant with his baby–also pleaded not guilty in the corruption scandal that includes charges against 12 inmates and 13 officers.
White was bold. In conversations captured by federal wiretaps, he said he ran the jail and everything had to go through him.
“This is my jail,” he said. “You understand that? I’m dead serious…. I make every final call in this jail … and nothing go past me, everything come to me…. Any of my brothers that deal with anybody, it’s gonna come to me. You see what I am saying? Everything come to me. Everything. Before a —– hit a —- in the mouth, guess what they do, they gotta run it through me. I tell them whether it’s a go ahead, and they can do it or whether they hold back. Before a —– stab somebody, they gotta run it through me…. Anything that get done must go through me. “
A series of WJZ investigations exposed the control the BGF gang exercised behind prison walls–even ordering champagne and seafood dinners.
BGF leadership counted on corrupting officers to run its criminal empire. And the inmates’ possession of cell phones was critical. As one told WJZ, they were easy to get.
“I was nervous. It took a couple days but it worked. I got the phone. It had a charger with it,” a former inmate said.
“Ten in a prison is too many. It only takes one to negotiate that criminal activity,” said Gary Maynard, Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services.
Now top jail officials are undergoing polygraph tests and integrity reviews to finally stop the corruption.
Maynard has moved his office inside the detention center, overseeing and responsible for the cleanup.
In recent years, state and federal officials have also cracked down on the same gang in other prisons in Maryland and across the country.