U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Iowa
(319) 363-6333
October 6, 2015

Two Former Anamosa Prison Correctional Officers Charged with Federal Extortion and Firearms Offenses

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA—Two former Anamosa State Penitentiary correctional officers have been charged with federal offenses, while two others will be charged in state court. The criminal activity surrounding these charges involved accepting money to smuggle cell phones into the prison for prisoner use, being unlawful drug users in possession of firearms, and possessing controlled substances. Anamosa penitentiary officials learned of this illegal activity and immediately began an investigation, enlisting the assistance of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also joined in the investigation.

Two former correctional officers have been charged with federal crimes. Garrett Barton, age 29, from Anamosa, Iowa, has been charged by Criminal Information to one count of Hobbs Act extortion, that is taking money to smuggle cell phones into the prison for prisoner use, and to one count of being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms. Ethan Darrow, age 29, also from Anamosa, Iowa, was also charged by Criminal Information with one count of being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms.

In agreements with the United States, two other former correctional officers, Marques Maryland, age 38, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Seth Vogel, age 28, from Marion, Iowa, have agreed to plead to state charges of possessing controlled substances. These pleas will be made in Jones County, Iowa.

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa Kevin W. Techau stated, “Prison safety depends on prison personnel acting with honesty and integrity… smuggling drugs and other contraband to inmates undermine that safety and make an inherently dangerous environment more dangerous.”

In connection with this investigation, Samuel Foster, age 29, from North Liberty, Iowa, was charged by Criminal Complaint with being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm. He was not employed by the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

The public documents allege that in 2014, while employed as a correctional officer at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, Garrett Barton used his position to smuggle cell phones into the Penitentiary for inmates in exchange for cash payments. Cell phones are considered contraband which inmates are prohibited from possessing. In the course of investigating this activity, authorities also learned that Barton possessed firearms while being an unlawful user of marijuana and prescription controlled substances not prescribed to him. He also traded controlled substances for other controlled substances with other correctional officers. The investigation further revealed former correctional officer Ethan Darrow used controlled substances, including marijuana, cocaine, and prescription controlled substances, and used and traded drugs with Barton and other correctional officers, including Seth Vogel. Barton also conspired with his source of drugs, Samuel Foster, to sell marijuana to correctional officer Marques Maryland. Barton, Darrow, Vogel and Maryland were unlawful drug users in possession of firearms when they served guard tower duty at the prison while possessing AR-15 assault rifles.

Samuel Foster was charged by criminal Complaint filed in federal court on October 1, 2015. The Complaint alleges that in April 2015, North Liberty Police Officers executed search warrants at his residence and storage garage located in that city. Officers recovered, among other things, approximately 530 grams of marijuana, 156 hydromorphone pills (a Schedule II controlled substance), drug use paraphernalia, and a stolen .32 caliber revolver. Another search of Foster’s storage garage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, uncovered approximately 123 grams of marijuana and a stolen .22 caliber rifle. The Complaint alleges that Foster admitted to being an unlawful user of marijuana and to selling it for between $3,200 and $3,300 per pound. The Complaint summarizes text messages between Foster and others, including Barton, regarding selling marijuana to Barton and Maryland.

As for Garrett Barton, a Criminal Information was filed on this date. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance and enter a guilty plea to both counts on October 13, 2015. Barton faces a possible maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, $200 in special assessments, and eight years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

Ethan Darrow entered his guilty plea in federal court on October 5, 2015. Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Darrow remains free on conditions set by the court pending sentencing. Darrow faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, $100 in special assessments, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

Marques Maryland and Seth Vogel are required by the terms of their federal agreements to enter guilty pleas to possession of controlled substances in the Iowa District Court for Jones County. Maryland and Vogel each face a possible maximum state sentence of six-months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.

Samuel Foster appeared yesterday in federal court in Cedar Rapids and was ordered detained by Chief Magistrate Judge Jon S. Scoles pending presentation of the case to the federal grand jury. Foster faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, $100 in special assessments, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.­

As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney C.J. Williams and Special Assistant United States Attorney Erin Eldridge, and was investigated by Anamosa State Penitentiary, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and North Liberty Police Department.

Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. The case file number for the federal court filings are: Garrett Barton (15-CR-00091); Ethan Darrow (15-CR-00090); and, Samuel Foster (15-mj-296).

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