BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Sex, cell phones and corruption inside the city jail. Two inmates, five correctional officers and a state employee all went on trial on charges of conspiracy, money laundering and drug distribution.
Investigator Mike Hellgren has more.
Details of the corruption laid out in court were stunning. The officers charged in the scandal claim they’re not guilty, they’re just small fish and the real mastermind is going to testify for the feds after getting a sweet deal.
Prosecutors painted a picture of sex and drugs behind bars and inmates turning the Baltimore City Detention Center into their private playground as the trial for five correctional officers and two inmates began under heavy security at Baltimore’s federal courthouse.
“I think that’s up to the jury to determine and there’s a long way to go,” said David Soloman, defense attorney.
Tavon White is the Black Guerrilla Family gang member who ran it all. He was caught on a wire saying: “This is my jail. My word is law.” Prosecutors say he made $10,000 to $20,000 a week smuggling drugs and cell phones.
WJZ has confirmed he’s a key witness for the government and will testify here, with defense attorneys claiming he’s not credible and chastising what they call a lenient plea deal–even if they didn’t want to talk about it.
“I’m not going to comment on the trial,” said Richard Bardos, defense attorney.
Lawyers for the officers said in opening statements the jail’s former security chief, Shavella Miles, allowed White to run wild to keep violence down at the jail. It’s something she denied in an exclusive WJZ interview.
“I come in for one year, and I’m the one who takes the blame?” said Miles. “It definitely wasn’t my fault.”
Corruption at the jail was so scandalous, it drew nationwide attention. Several inmates got officers pregnant and gained power in the process. They avoided tracking by transferring money to Green Dot cards.
Officers could make hundreds of dollars a week smuggling contraband inside their bodies in what prosecutors called an upside down world where inmates ran the jail.
One defense attorney said in court you did not need a correctional officers’ manual to see how things were being run in this jail, you needed a BGF gang manual.
The trial is expected to last into January.
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