GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) — A man has been sentenced to 39 months in federal prison with three years of supervised release for a racketeering conspiracy at the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI), according to the United States Department of Justice.

40 year-old Chaz Chriscoe of Owings Mills, Maryland was sentenced on May 4 for racketeering conspiracy at the Jessup Correctional Institution.

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The conspiracy included former correctional officers, inmates and outside “facilitators”, like Chriscoe, who paid bribes to correctional officers to smuggle contraband, including narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, and cell phones into the prison.

Previously, on May 3, JCI inmate Darnell Smith, a.k.a. “Hook”, age 40, pleaded guilty to his role in the racketeering conspiracy.

The sentence and guilty plea were announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Acting Special Agent in Charge Rachel Byrd, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Secretary Robert Green, of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

“Prison corruption does not just endanger the lives of correctional officers and of the inmates entrusted to their care and supervision, but of the entire community, as it allows inmates to direct criminal activity from their prison cells,” said Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner.  “The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to root out prison corruption and prosecute correctional officers and others who facilitate and engage in criminal behavior.”

According to their plea agreements, from at least 2017 until their arrests in 2020, Chriscoe, who also goes by the name “Cheese,” and Smith conspired with JCI correctional officers, inmates, and outside facilitators to smuggle contraband into JCI, including narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, and cell phones, in order to enrich themselves and protect and expand their criminal operation.

According to their plea agreements and other court documents, COs accepted or agreed to accept payments from facilitators and/or inmates or engaged in sexual relations with inmates as consideration for smuggling contraband into JCI.

Inmates acted as both wholesalers and retailers of contraband and in the process made profits that far exceeded the profits that could be made by selling similar drugs on the street.

As detailed in their plea agreements, Chriscoe maintained relationships with several inmates and correctional officers at JCI, including Officer Chanel Pierce and inmate Darnell Smith.

“From corrupt officials to outside facilitators, we cannot and will not accept the perpetuation of a cycle of illegal activity inside prison walls,” said Rachel Byrd, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “Federal, state, and local officials will continue to work together to root out those who undermine the administration of justice at our prisons.”

Chriscoe acted as the primary conduit through which co-conspirators would get contraband, including controlled dangerous drugs, such as Suboxone, to Officer Pierce and others to smuggle into JCI and then distribute the contraband to inmates.

On a nearly daily basis, Chriscoe met with other outside facilitators to gather and package contraband before meeting with a correctional officer to provide the contraband and bribe payment.

Between December 30, 2018 and January 12, 2019, law enforcement intercepted communications indicating that Chriscoe was meeting with a JCI correctional officer at the officer’s home to deliver drugs and bribe money.

When the officer was arrested a few days later, Chriscoe became the primary coordinator for the smuggling conspiracy because he and Darnell Smith had a connection with another JCI officer, specifically Chanel Pierce, with whom Smith was engaged in a romantic relationship.

Over the next several months, investigators intercepted daily communications between Chriscoe, Smith, Pierce and other JCI inmates and their outside facilitators to coordinate contraband drop-offs and payments.

The calls showed that outside facilitators would drop contraband off with Chriscoe, who then met with and provided the contraband to Officer Pierce for smuggling into JCI.

Sataya Hall was Smith’s financial facilitator and sent payments to both Chriscoe and Pierce on Smith’s behalf.

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In addition, Hall accepted payments on Smith’s behalf from facilitators for other JCI inmates in payment for contraband Smith had sold inside of JCI.

Smith admitted that during the time of the conspiracy, he possessed a contraband cell phone inside JCI that he used to further the smuggling operation, routinely using the contraband phone to communicate with Officer Pierce, Hall, and Chriscoe.

In addition, there were numerous conversations in which Smith discussed the types and quantities of drugs that were to be smuggled into JCI, as well as the money that other inmates and outside facilitators would pay for them.

Smith also used the phone to conduct his romantic relationship with Officer Pierce, coordinate her bribe payments and facilitate her meetings with Chriscoe.

As detailed in their plea agreements, early on the morning of May 25, 2019, Chriscoe met Pierce at her home and provided her with several balloons filled with controlled substances to smuggle into JCI.

Pierce then went to work and was stopped by law enforcement as she entered the facility and searched.

Law enforcement recovered a concealed purple balloon containing Suboxone from Pierce’s person.

A subsequent search of Pierce’s home revealed several more balloons filled with contraband that she intended to smuggle into JCI.

Smith faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the racketeering conspiracy.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for August 4, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.

A total of nine defendants, including Chriscoe, Smith, Pierce, and Hall, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy.

Six defendants are still facing charges.  Former Correctional Dietary Officer Chanel Pierce, age 28, of Pikesville, Maryland, pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.

Co-defendant inmates Page Boyd, age 37, and Marshall Hill, a/k/a “Boosie,” age 29, pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy and were each sentenced to four years in federal prison.

Co-defendant facilitators Sataya Hall, age 38, of Baltimore, and Trinesse Butts, age 37, of Parkville, Maryland also pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy and were sentenced to six months in federal prison and a year and a day in federal prison, respectively.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation.

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OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.