Indictment tells tale of prison sex, favors and power

By Ann O’Neill, CNN

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(CNN) — Behind the boilerplate language of the grand jury indictment at the heart of an arrest gone awry is the story of a prison sex scandal straight from a B movie.

It features male guards, female inmates and the currency of sex, drugs, money and favors. Ultimately, it is a story of power and oppression.

The indictment came to light after a deadly gunbattle broke out at a Tallahassee, Florida, federal prison Wednesday.

When federal authorities showed up at the Federal Correctional Institution Tallahassee to make arrests, guard Ralph Hill opened fire, sources said. Hill and a federal agent were killed in the gunfight.

Hill was among the six U.S. Bureau of Prisons corrections officers charged in the indictment with conspiring to swap contraband for sex with at least 10 inmates.

The others are Alfredo Barnes, Gregory Dixon, Vincent Johnson, Alan Moore and E. Lavon Spence. The 13-page indictment alleges a single count of conspiracy.

The indictment says the guards at the prison also abused their authority and resorted to intimidation to keep the sex-for-favors scheme going.

All the guards but Johnson are accused in the indictment of having "sexual contact" with inmates in exchange for contraband.

Johnson, the indictment says, tried to discourage an inmate from cooperating with investigators during the yearlong probe.

The indictment alleges that Hill had sexual contact on four occasions with four different inmates. He also allegedly monitored inmate phone calls and used money orders to purchase contraband to exchange for sex.

The details are laid out in 70 overt acts alleged to be part of the overall conspiracy. According to the indictment, between September 2003 and May 2005, guards swapped shifts, covered for one another, obtained cash and passed messages to inmates to facilitate the trysts.

Contraband — described in the indictment as cash, marijuana, messages, alcohol and food — was secreted in spots in the prison for inmates to retrieve, the indictment says.

Inmates who threatened to expose the scandal were told contraband would be planted in their cells, according to the indictment.

They also faced intrusions into their personal files and phone calls, the indictment says, and they were threatened with transfers that would take them far from their families.

According to the indictment, some of the guards showed inmates information about themselves and other prisoners on the Bureau of Prisons computer system. The demonstration was intended to show the guards could make good on their threats.

The guards obtained money orders to purchase contraband, the indictment says.

According to the indictment, at least one federal agent went undercover at the prison.

At Barnes’ urging, the indictment says, the undercover agent mailed a $600 money order for contraband.

Barnes called the undercover agent’s cell phone to discuss delivery of the contraband, and Johnson passed on a message to an inmate on Barnes’ behalf, the indictment says.

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