NEWARK, N.J. – A Camden County, New Jersey, man who worked as a corrections officer at a federal facility admitted today that he accepted cash bribes in exchange for delivering contraband to inmates, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Paul Anton Wright, 34, of Berlin, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to Count 1 of a five-count indictment charging him with accepting thousands of dollars in cash bribes in exchange for delivering contraband to federal inmates at Fort Dix.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
From 2014 through April of 2018, Wright worked as a correctional officer at Federal Correctional Institution Fort Dix (FCI Fort Dix), a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility in Burlington County. In 2015, Wright agreed to accept cash bribes in exchange for smuggling contraband, including tobacco, K2 (synthetic marijuana) and suboxone (a narcotic used to treat opioid addiction), to inmates.
Wright received cash bribes from two individuals outside of FCI Fort Dix. Between February and September 2015, Wright traveled to Philadelphia on multiple occasions to meet with a relative of an FCI Fort Dix inmate and subsequently delivered contraband, including K2, to the inmate. Wright would conceal the contraband in order to smuggle it into FCI Fort Dix. Between October and December of 2015, Wright traveled to New York City on multiple occasions to pick up contraband from a different inmate’s associate, from whom he also received corrupt cash payments in return for smuggling contraband into FCI Fort Dix.
The bribery charge to which Wright plead guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum potential fine of $250,000. In addition, Wright agreed to the entry of a forfeiture money judgment against him in the amount of $50,000, reflecting monies he accepted as bribes during the course of his criminal scheme. Sentencing is currently scheduled for Feb. 27, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, New York Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Guido Modano, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, for their assistance in the prosecution.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark J. McCarren and Tazneen Shahabuddin of the U.S. Attorney’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Angelo R. Bianchi Esq. and Peter C. LaGreca Esq., West Caldwell, New Jersey