U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Virginia
(540) 857-2250
July 23, 2015

Federal Correctional Officer and Wife Plead Guilty to Accepting Bribes

ABINGDON, VA—Acting United States Attorney Anthony P. Giorno announced today that Joshua Austin and Latoya Austin, a husband and wife, pled guilty today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon for conduct related to the accepting of bribes in exchange for introducing prohibited objects into a federal prison.

Joshua Austin, 24, of North Tazewell, Virginia, pled guilty today to a one count Information charging him with accepting a bribe as a public official. Latoya Austin, 22, also of North Tazewell, Virginia, pled guilty today to a one count Information charging her with aiding and abetting the introduction of a prohibited object into a federal prison.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Zachary T. Lee, Austin was employed as a correctional officer for the United States Bureau of Prisons at Federal Correctional Institution McDowell located in Welch, West Virginia. Between January 1, 2015 and July 2, 2015, Austin received multiple monetary payments, totaling at least $10,000, from family members and associates of an inmate at the prison in return for Austin smuggling tobacco products into the prison. These items were then provided to the inmate in violation of Bureau of Prisons regulations. Many of the monetary payments were mailed to a post office box located in Bluefield, Virginia, which had been opened by Latoya Austin. Additionally, Joshua Austin met with a family member of an inmate in Russell County, Virginia in order to receive one of the bribe payments.

Joshua Austin faces a potential maximum sentence of fifteen years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. He has also agreed to forfeit $10,700. Latoya Austin faces a potential maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

Both sentencing hearings are scheduled for October 14, 2015, at 10:30 a.m.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Bureau of Prisons Special Investigative Service at Federal Correctional Institution McDowell, United States Postal Inspection Service, and the United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Zachary T. Lee is prosecuting the case for the United States.

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