U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey
(973) 645-2888
March 23, 2015

Two Essex County, New Jersey Men Sentenced to Prison for Smuggling Marijuana and Cell Phones Into Federal Detention Facility

TRENTON, NJ—Two Newark, New Jersey, men were each sentenced prison terms today for their involvement in a scheme to smuggle contraband, including marijuana and cell phones, into the Essex County Correctional Facility, a federal pretrial detention facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Darsell Davis, 29, and Dwayne Harper, 31, were sentenced to 15 months and 12 months in prison, respectively. Davis previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with others to commit extortion under color of official right. Harper previously pleaded guilty before Judge Cooper to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband into the Essex County Correctional Facility. Judge Cooper imposed both sentences today in Trenton federal court.

According to the documents filed and statements made in court:

On multiple occasions between September 2013 and May 2014, Stephon Solomon, 27, a corrections officer at the Essex County Correctional Facility, smuggled contraband—including cell phones, tobacco, and marijuana—to Quasim Nichols, 30, a federal pretrial detainee at facility, in exchange for cash bribes. Davis and Harper aided the smuggling scheme by collecting the contraband to be smuggled into the facility. After receiving contraband and cash bribes from Davis, Solomon smuggled the contraband to Nichols, who ultimately sold some of the marijuana and cell phones to other inmates. The inmates purchased the contraband by having friends and family send Western Union money transfers to Nichols, who then enlisted Davis and others to retrieve those payments for him. Davis obtained at least $4,300 in Western Union payments over the course of the conspiracy.

Nichols pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper on Feb. 11, 2015, to an information charging him with one count of committing an armed carjacking and one count of conspiring with others to commit extortion under color of official right. Nichols is scheduled for sentencing on May 20, 2015.

Solomon pleaded guilty on Oct. 1, 2014, to one count of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and awaits sentencing on March 25, 2015. He has been released on bail. In addition to the prison term, Judge Cooper sentenced Davis and Harper to each serve three years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, and investigators with the Internal Affairs Division of the Essex County Correctional Facility, under the leadership of Warden Roy Hendricks, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencings.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division and Robert Frazer of the Criminal Division, Organized Crime/Gangs Unit, in Newark.

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