NJ correction officer caught smuggling marijuana to juvenile offenders

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Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a senior correction officer at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility in Yardville, N.J., was indicted today on charges that he smuggled marijuana and tobacco to inmates inside the correctional facility in return for money.

Jaquae Hollingshead, 24, of Southampton, N.J., was indicted today by a state grand jury on charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and bribery in official matters, all second-degree charges, as well as third-degree charges of distribution of marijuana and money laundering. Hollingshead has been suspended from his position as a senior correction officer as a result of the allegations.

It is alleged that, on multiple occasions, Hollingshead allegedly smuggled marijuana and tobacco to inmates in the correctional facility. In return, he allegedly received bribes in the form of monetary payments made by friends or relatives of the inmates outside the prison. Inmates allegedly communicated with Hollingshead using a cell phone to arrange for the contraband to be smuggled.

“By smuggling contraband to inmates, corrupt correction officers compound the challenges faced by their fellow officers in maintaining security in our state correctional facilities,” said Attorney General Porrino. “We allege that Hollingshead betrayed his badge and compromised safety by smuggling contraband, including drugs, into a youth correctional facility.”

“I commend the investigators in the Department of Corrections who uncovered this alleged smuggling scheme,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “We intend to aggressively prosecute this defendant to send a clear message that we won’t stand for crooked correction officers who undermine security in our prisons.”

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“Thanks to everyone who collaborated on this investigation,” said New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan. “The overwhelming majority of New Jersey Department of Corrections staff is hard-working and honest.  However, a corrupt employee can undermine the integrity of the entire criminal justice system.  Every member of our staff knows that if he or she acts in an unlawful manner, then he or she should not be working for the NJDOC and is subject to the legal ramifications of that behavior.”

Deputy Attorney General Ronald Minsky presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The indictment stems from an investigation by the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division.  Senior Investigators Samuel Wise and Patrick Sesulka led the investigation for the Department of Corrections.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The second-degree charges carry a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility of five years. The third-degree money laundering charge carries an enhanced fine of up to $25,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Burlington County, where Hollingshead will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment on the charges.

Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to confidentially report public corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public also can log on to the Division’s web page at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.

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Defense Attorney: Ross Gigliotti, Esq., Gigliotti & Lehrfeld, LLC, Cherry Hill, N.J.

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