Two correctional officers at Centinela State Prison have been indicted in separate cases alleging they accepted bribes and payments to smuggle drugs , cell phones and tobacco products into the prison.
The Office of the U.S. Attorney Southern District of California in San Diego said that in the first case , Diego Alfredp Montanez , 34 , a correctional officer at Centinela , was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury for conspiring to distribute drugs within the prison. Also named in the indictment were inmate Jared Brown , 39 , and 24-year old Lavoijunee Dolores Pichon of Los Angeles. According to the search warrants and criminal complaint , Montanez was paid more than $10,000 by Pichon to supply Brown cellular phones and controlled substances. Brown is currently serving an indeterminate life sentence at Centinela State Prison. The U.S. Attorney's office said that on April 19, 2017 , FBI agents and officers from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation , Office of Internal Affairs served a federal search warrant at Montanez's Brawley residence and recovered 38 cellular phones , 316 grams of methamphetamine , 263 grams of heroin , tobacco , PCP and marijuana. Montanez told investigators that the cell phones and drugs were delivered to him for distribution at the prison.
In the second case , Gabriel Villagomez , 38 , of Imperial , was arraigned Wednesday on honest-services fraud charges. According to the indictment , Villagomes , while serving as a correctional officer , solicited and accepted bribes and payments from Centinela inmates and others acting for inmates , to smuggle cell hones and tobacco products into the state prison. Investigators allege that Villagomez received more than $41,000 for his smuggling endeavors.
The indictments stemmed from a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation - Office of Internal Affairs - Southern Region. The two agencies have come together to form the San Diego Prison Corruption Task Force to present a unified effort to address corruption in prisons in the Southern District of California.
Montanez , Brown and Pichon face a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The charges against Villagomez have a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.