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May 28, 2021

Philly corrections officer allegedly took bribes to smuggle drugs, cellphones into prison

As much as $69,000 worth of contraband was trafficked into the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center

Investigations Prisons

Federal prosecutors charged three people, including a corrections officer, who allegedly conspired to smuggle drugs and cellphones into the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center in the Holmesburg section of the city.

A Philadelphia prison guard, an inmate and his girlfriend are each facing charges for their alleged involvement in a scheme to smuggle contraband into the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, prosecutors said Friday.

Haneef Lawton, 33, is accused of coordinating with 35-year-old inmate Kernard Murray to smuggle drugs and cellphones into the prison in exchange for bribes. Murray's girlfriend, 42-year-old Charene Stallings, allegedly took payments from inmate buyers, accepting cash or peer-to-peer electronic transfers on CashApp.

In exchange for Lawton's alleged assistance in smuggling the contraband, Murray and Stallings gave the prison guard more than $11,400, investigators said.

According to prosecutors, the narcotics brought into the prison included Suboxone, and Stallings allegedly was found to possess crack cocaine. The couple allegedly trafficked as much as $69,000 of contraband into the prison.

"Corrections officers have a difficult, oftentimes dangerous, job," Acting U.S. Attorney Jenniifer Arbittier Williams said, "But this does not give them an excuse to break the law, nor does it give them license to sell their silence. The U.S. Attorney's Office will not tolerate this kind of lawless behavior."

Lawton, Murray and Stallings are charged with conspiracy, bribery and drug-related offenses.

If convicted, Lawton and Murray face a maximum possible sentence of 45 years' imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release and a $2 million fine. Stallings faces the same penalties in addition to a potential mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment, 5 years supervised release and a $10,000,000 fine for the charge related to the cocaine.

The case was investigated by the FBI and internal affairs division of the Philadelphia Department of Prisons.