Corrections Officer Admits Accepting Cash Bribes in Exchange for Smuggling Marijuana and Cell Phones into Federal Pretrial Detention Facility
TRENTON, NJ—An Essex County corrections officer today admitted his involvement in a scheme to smuggle marijuana, cell phones and tobacco into the Essex County Jail, a federal pretrial detention facility, in exchange for cash bribe payments, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Stephon Solomon, 26, of Irvington, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right.
According to the documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:
On multiple occasions between October 2013 and May 2014, Solomon, a corrections officer at the Essex County Jail, smuggled contraband—including cell phones, tobacco, and marijuana—to Quasim Nichols, 29, a federal pretrial detainee at the Essex County Jail, in exchange for cash bribes. Darsell Davis, 29, and Dwayne Harper, 30, friends of Nichols, aided in the smuggling scheme by collecting the contraband to be smuggled into the jail. Solomon received the contraband and cash bribes from Davis and then smuggled the contraband to Nichols, who ultimately sold some of the marijuana and cell phones to other inmates. The inmates purchasing marijuana and cell phones from Nichols had their friends and family pay for the items by sending Western Union money transfers to Nichols, who enlisted Davis and others to retrieve those payments for him. Charges against Nichols, Davis and Harper are still pending.
The charge for conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right to which Solomon pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Under terms of the plea agreement, Solomon will forfeit $4,000, representing his proceeds from the conspiracy. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, and investigators with the Internal Affairs Division of Essex County Jail, under the leadership of Warden Roy Hendricks, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division and Rob Frazer of the Criminal Division, Organized Crime/Gangs Unit, in Newark.