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Monroe prison guard arrested by federal agents for allegedly accepting bribes
October 02, 2016
This report first ran as a Chronicle front page feature story October 1st
(MONROE, WA.) -- A prison guard at the Washington State Monroe Correctional Complex was arrested at the prison Wednesday Sept. 28 on a federal complaint alleging he accepted bribes for smuggling contraband into the prison, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.
Michael W. Bowden, 31, of Everett is charged with three counts of "extortion under color of official right" and one count of attempted distribution of methamphetamine.
“Our state prisons are no place for illegal drugs and other contraband,” said U.S. Attorney Hayes. “The Washington State Department of Corrections and the FBI have worked diligently to uncover sources of contraband flowing into the Monroe Correctional Complex. This arrest should send a clear message that anyone involved in smuggling prohibited items into our state prison system will face serious consequences for their criminal conduct.”
According to the criminal complaint, the Department of Corrections Intelligence and Investigations Unit asked the FBI to become involved in the investigation of contraband smuggling in December 2015.
Using confidential sources inside and outside the Monroe prison, agents determined Bowden was accepting bribes of up to $1,000 to smuggle contraband into the prison. On three different occasions between July and September 2016, Bowden allegedly smuggled tobacco, a SIM card, and what he believed was methamphetamine into an inmate at the prison.
In each of those three instances, the inmate turned the contraband over to investigators.
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Seattle Field office Jay S. Tabb, Jr., said the agency launched a "Prison Corruption Initiative" in 2014 to expose criminal conduct by prison officials, particularly contraband smuggling in exchange for bribe payments.
He added, "The Washington Department of Corrections is a critical partner in this initiative, and the FBI is committed to working with the DOC to identify those who abuse their trusted positions.”
Extortion under color of official right is punishable by up to twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Attempted distribution of methamphetamine is punishable by up to twenty years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
These are maximum possible sentences that could be imposed on individual counts in this case. Hayes' office said they are not a statement of what the United States will recommend if the defendant is convicted, nor do they reflect the impact of the United States sentencing guidelines and other applicable law on any term of imprisonment.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.