Inmates pay to get narcotics and other contraband through deputies. Baca says guards' financial hardships are usually involved.
By Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard, Times Staff Writers
Los Angeles County jail inmates have used corrupt guards to penetrate tight security at lockups, helping fuel a lucrative drug trade behind bars, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Times.
Three sheriff's guards have been convicted and a fourth fired in recent years for smuggling or attempting to smuggle narcotics into jail for inmates. Sheriff's investigators are probing allegations that at least three more deputies took drugs or other contraband into the jails.
The porous nature of the jails was highlighted last week when The Times revealed that FBI agents conducted an undercover sting in which a deputy was accused of taking $1,500 to smuggle a cellphone to an inmate working as a federal informant…
In a sign of how serious officials consider the smuggling problem to be, the Sheriff's Department recently recorded a former deputy, now in state prison, as he explained what led him to help inmates sneak in heroin, meth and marijuana.
…Peter Felix tearfully recounts from behind bars how his fall from grace started with taking a burrito to an inmate. The video is meant to serve as a cautionary tale, and sheriff's officials plan to show it to all of the department's more than 9,000 deputies.
Sheriff Lee Baca said employees caught up in smuggling schemes are usually facing financial hardship. The deputy at the center of the FBI sting had six children from two prior marriages, commitments that consumed about 70% of his salary…(Full text at Los Angeles Times)
As noted in the post Caveat Centurion: Short checks lead some to cross the line, financial pressures invariably lead some staff to cross the line. Sadly, while there will always be a handful of overtly bad apples who make their way into any organization, the CO's and deputies turning to the Dark Side are generally good people who crossed the line. Peter Felix, for example…
Insofar as numerous legal avenues exist to assist those in financial trouble, it is particularly difficult to understand why law enforcement officers opt to become criminals–From debt restructuring services, to financial counselors to bankruptcy, legal options abound.
The good news is, there is no amount of debt one cannot overcome under one of the programs available to all Americans. Given that, it boggles the mind ANYONE would throw away a career and their personal freedom to get out of debt.
For state employees, it's simply a matter of clicking a mouse or picking up the phone to get help. The Employee Assistance Program, administered by MHN, includes financial counseling services and referrals. MHN's state employee portal is: https://members.mhn.com/home and the toll free phone number is : 866 EAP-4SOC (866.327.4762).
Alternately, there's the Casino, the Pyramid scheme (one is ALWAYS making the rounds), kiting checks, smuggling tobacco… In the end, if you're lucky, you'll get to be CDCR's version of Peter Felix in the new IST video.
When it comes to finances, the worst case scenario is bankruptcy. It's not a pleasant experience for folks with a sense of responsibility–It's that way by design. Humbling as having one's financial life discussed in a Courtroom may be, I'll bet it feels like winning the Powerball Lotto compared to standing in Court as the Judge sentences you to prison for bribery, conspiracy…