Smith Bribed Correctional Officers, Sold Controlled Substances, and Held a Romantic Relationship with a Correctional Officer to Sell Contraband within the Prison
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced Darnell Smith, a/k/a “Hook”, age 41, of Baltimore, Maryland to five years and three months in federal prison, to be served consecutive to Smith’s current state sentence, followed by three years of supervised release, for a racketeering conspiracy at the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI). The conspiracy included former correctional officers, inmates, and outside “facilitators” who paid bribes to correctional officers to smuggle contraband, including narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, and cell phones into the prison.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Secretary Robert L. Green, of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
According to his plea agreement, between 2017 and the time of his arrest in 2020, Smith was an inmate at the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI), a maximum-security prison located near Jessup, Maryland. While imprisoned at JCI, Smith agreed with others to participate in the conduct of JCI’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity. The racketeering acts at the center of this conspiracy were the distribution of controlled substances, bribery, and money laundering.
Specifically, while an inmate at JCI, Smith conspired with JCI Correctional Officer (CO) Chanel Pierce, outside facilitator Chaz Chriscore, the mother of his children (co-defendant Satya Hall) and others to smuggle controlled substances and other contraband items into JCI. Smith also distributed the controlled substances to other inmates. As part of the endeavor, Smith engaged in a romantic relationship with CO Pierce and bribed her to collect, package, and smuggle contraband into JCI. CO Pierce, Chriscoe, and Hall were all charged alongside Smith in this 15-defendant indictment.
As stated in his plea agreement, Smith possessed a contraband cell phone, which enabled him to communicate with CO Pierce, Hall, and Chriscoe to further the smuggling operation. Smith used the contraband phone to discuss the types and quantities of controlled substances that were to be smuggled into JCI, facilitate the distribution of drugs within JCI, and coordinate bribe payments that were being made to CO Pierce. Smith also used the cell phone to carry out his romantic relationship with CO Pierce.
On the morning of May 25, 2019, Chriscoe met CO Pierce at her home and provided her with several balloons filled with controlled substances to smuggle into JCI. CO Pierce then went to work and was stopped by law enforcement as she entered the facility and searched. Law enforcement recovered from CO Pierce’s person multiple packages containing contraband, including a balloon filled with Suboxone. A subsequent search of CO Pierce’s home revealed several more balloons filled with contraband that she intended for Smith and others to smuggle into JCI.
A total of nine defendants, including Smith, Chriscoe, former CO Pierce, and Hall, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy. Six defendants are still facing charges. Former CO Chanel Pierce, age 28, of Pikesville, Maryland, pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing. Co-defendant inmates Page Boyd, age 37, and Marshall Hill, a/k/a “Boosie,” age 29, pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy and were each sentenced to four years in federal prison. Co-defendant facilitators Sataya Hall, age 38, of Baltimore, and Trinesse Butts, age 37, of Parkville, Maryland also pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy and were sentenced to six months in federal prison and a year and a day in federal prison, respectively.
At sentencing, Judge Chuang ordered that Smith’s federal sentence be served consecutive to Smith’s state sentence, of which several years remain.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner expressed appreciation to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, whose staff initiated the JCI investigation and have been full partners in this investigation. Mr. Lenzner also commended the FBI and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren E. Perry and Christopher M. Rigali, who prosecuted this case.