San Diego, CA–A corrections officer at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, was indicted by a federal grand jury for accepting thousands of dollars in cash bribes from an inmate to smuggle dental molds, jewelry, and other contraband into the prison, including an expensive bejeweled “grill” for the inmate’s mouth.
The indictment said Benito Jamar Hugie smuggled the grill into the facility in early October 2020 and delivered it to inmate Shawn Brown, who had custom ordered it from a jeweler in Houston, Texas, using a smuggled cell phone. A grill, also known as “fronts” or “golds,” is a type of dental jewelry worn over the teeth. Grills are generally made of metal, and precious gems, and are generally removable.
Others charged include Brown and his brothers – Daejohne Hatcher and Demetrius Warsinger – who are accused of facilitating more than $5,000 in bribes to Hugie.
According to a second, unrelated indictment, during the investigation of Brown’s alleged bribery scheme, agents learned that while in custody at the prison, Brown used his contraband cellular telephone to coordinate the theft of unemployment benefits intended for Californians who were unable to pay for food and housing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The indictment said Brown and his co-conspirators caused an estimated $1.4 million in fraudulent claims to be filed with the state Employment Development Department, resulting in actual cash payouts of more than $695,000 to Brown and his co-conspirators.
Also charged in that case are Devante Jefferson, Raven Solomon, Homer Pitts, Kimari Goodman, Keako Jones, and Daejohne Hatcher, who allegedly worked together to use stolen victim identities to file fraudulent EDD claims to receive cash benefits meant for those who were in need, the indictment said.
“Corrections officers are supposed to supervise inmates, not collaborate with them on crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We will hold officers accountable when they sacrifice their own integrity and that of the prison system for a payday.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team and FBI agents for their excellent work on this case.
“The defendant is accused of using his position as a corrections officer to work for the inmates inside the facility rather than the public,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy. “The FBI will not tolerate public corruption or theft of government funds on any level and we will continue to work with our state and federal partners to hold accountable those who use fraudulent schemes for personal gain.”