Maurice Antonio Bull, age 43, of Seaford, Delaware, USA, pleaded guilty today to interstate travel in aid of racketeering and to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, in connection with Bull accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into Eastern Correctional Institution.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; 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 (DPSCS).
“This case demonstrates that we will not tolerate employees in positions of trust violating their oaths. Federal, state, and local officials will continue to work together to root out corrupt employees and others who undermine the administration of justice at our prisons,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron.
“Once again, DPSCS detectives and intelligence officers built a strong case and worked with our federal partners to bring a dangerous plot to an end,” said DPSCS Secretary Robert Green. “Contraband and compromised employees endanger every single person who lives and works inside of our facilities.”
According to his guilty plea, Bull was a Correctional Officer at the Eastern Correctional Institute (“ECI”), a medium security Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services prison operated in Westover, Maryland, in Somerset County.
Correctional Officers have a duty to ensure that inmates follow the rules, including, most importantly, the prohibition of criminal activity while incarcerated. Bull admitted that he abused his position of trust as a sworn officer of DPSCS by engaging in illegal activities for the purposes of enriching himself. Specifically, Bull received bribes in exchange for bringing contraband into ECI, including but not limited to Suboxone, heroin, and tobacco for ECI inmates.
For example, as detailed in his plea agreement, in September 2020, an ECI inmate made a phone call, over the recorded jail call system, to his sister to arrange for her to provide a bribe payment to Bull in exchange for Bull smuggling contraband into the prison facility for the inmate. On September 9, 2020, Bull drove from his home in Delaware to Salisbury, Maryland and met with the inmate’s sister in the parking lot of a convenience store. Law enforcement officers observed the inmate’s sister placing a plastic bag inside the passenger window of Bull’s truck. Bull’s truck was subsequently stopped and searched. Officers recovered a plastic bag in the center console that contained approximately 1,153 Suboxone strips, 8.2 grams of a combination of packaging and heroin, and 20.6 grams of a combination of packaging and tobacco. The contraband was individually packaged and labelled with the initials of the ECI inmates who were the intended recipients. Officers also recovered a white envelope in Bull’s pocket which contained a bribe payment of $5,400.
Bull was interviewed and informed law enforcement that in July or August 2020, he was approached by an inmate about smuggling contraband, specifically Suboxone, into ECI in exchange for $2,000 bribe payments. The inmate who approached him was transferred before Bull could provide contraband, but he was subsequently approached by another inmate. Bull admitted that he intended to bring the controlled substances into ECI and to provide them to that inmate and the $5,400 was payment for his agreement to do so. Bull advised law enforcement that he had previously brought contraband into ECI for the inmate, in exchange for $2,000 in cash. On this prior occasion, to obtain the controlled substances and bribe payment, Bull drove from his home in Delaware to Maryland.
Bull faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for interstate travel in aid of racketeering and a maximum of 20 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. U.S. District Judge Lydia K. Griggsby has scheduled sentencing for February 24, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.
This case arose from the efforts of the Maryland Prison Task Force, coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and comprised of local, state, and federal stakeholders that meet regularly to share information and generate recommendations to reform prison procedures and attack the gang problem that has plagued Maryland in recent years. The work of the Task Force previously resulted in the federal convictions of more than 78 defendants, including 16 correctional officers, at the Eastern Correctional Institution, and 40 defendants, including 24 correctional officers, at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and DPSCS for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean R. Delaney and Lauren E. Perry, who are prosecuting the case.