Friday, January 25, 2008

Florida federal prison guards charged in contraband, bribery case


OCALA, Fla. -- Eleven people, including nine who worked at Coleman Federal Penitentiary, have been accused of taking bribes to bring contraband into prison and having sex with an inmate, officials said Friday.

Federal prosecutors announced the case that began last year and four workers had their cases unsealed Thursday. All nine prison workers were either fired, suspended or resigned, Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Felicia Ponce said.

Corrections officer Luiz Felix Viera, 41, of Tavares, was accused in an October indictment of smuggling 12 cartons of cigarettes, two packs of cigars and a knife into the prison in exchange for a $3,100 bribe. Defense attorney Ronald E. Fox declined comment.

Kendra Russell, also known as Kendra Drain, 41, of Tavares, a treatment specialist at the prison, was accused in a November indictment of smuggling marijuana into the prison in exchange for $948. She did not have an attorney listed on federal records.

Former corrections officer Calvin Williams was indicted in November on charges that he smuggled cell phones, cigarettes and watches into the prison in exchange for bribes of $5,700.

Former corrections officer William Alan Blanton of Ocala was charged Tuesday with having sex with a female inmate.

Both Williams and Blanton are represented by the federal public defender's office in Ocala, which did not immediately return telephone calls.

All four were released on bond after their initial appearance Thursday.

Another four Coleman employees have pleaded guilty to bribery charges and one has pleaded guilty to providing contraband. The two others charged included an inmate and Williams' girlfriend.

Last modified: January 25. 2008 2:36PM

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