A former prison guard who admitted to smuggling 200 strips of prescription opioid medicine into the Airway Heights Correction Center last July has been sentenced to two months in prison, far less than the 5-year minimum term prescribed in federal law.
The written arguments that swayed U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson to hand down the exceptional sentence have been filed under seal. Michael Mattern’s coconspirators received sentences of 56 and 30 months, respectively, which were also below the 5-year minimum.
Mattern, an employee of the state prison for nearly 20 years, was found with 200 strips of Suboxone, the prescription medication used to treat opioid addiction that can also be abused. Investigators also found him in possession of 14.6 grams of methamphetamine and 2.9 grams of heroin at the prison. The drugs were hidden in a tobacco tin inside Mattern’s lunch box, according to court records.
An investigation by the FBI and the Washington Department of Corrections revealed that an inmate, 34-year-old Joseph Burnett, called from a phone in the prison to request drugs be smuggled into the prison while he was serving a sentence on theft and robbery charges. The phone calls began in March 2020, after COVID-19 lockdown procedures limited visits at the prison.
The drugs were supplied by Brandy Lorentzen, 46, who met with Mattern to provide the drugs and payment for smuggling, according to a sworn statement from FBI Special Agent David DiBartolo based on surveillance of Mattern’s car. The FBI and DOC received tips from unnamed inmates in the prison that drugs were being smuggled into Mattern’s unit of the corrections facility. Lorentzen knew Burnett before his incarceration and had previously spent time in federal prison on a heroin distribution charge.
Lorentzen and Burnett pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy count, a felony. Lorentzen received a 30-month prison sentence, while Burnett received 56 months.