Pa. CO charged in connection with drug sale operation in county jail

The CO was taken into custody when he reported to Allegheny County Jail for his shift on Thursday


By Megan Guza
The Tribune-Review
        
PITTSBURGH — A CO at the Allegheny County Jail is accused of working with an incarcerated man to sell drugs to others within the jail, allowing him to go from cell to cell to make the sales and provide payment information, according to Allegheny County Police.

Lewis Bagnato, 32, of Kennedy, faces felony drug and contraband charges in connection with the sale of the drug K2 in the jail. Bagnato was hired by the jail in December 2019.

Authorities received a tip from an incarcerated man in late April indicating he had information on K2, a type of synthetic cannabis, in the jail, according to the criminal complaint against Bagnato.

Authorities received a tip from an incarcerated man in late April indicating he had information on K2, a type of synthetic cannabis, in Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh.
Authorities received a tip from an incarcerated man in late April indicating he had information on K2, a type of synthetic cannabis, in Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh. (Peter Radunzel)

The man, identified in the complaint as Witness 1, said Bagnato went by "Uncle Kirk." He said Bagnato brought the drug to his cell, and then allowed him to move from cell to cell for sales — giving him the proceeds in return, officials said.

Bagnato told the incarcerated man he could bring in Suboxone, Percocet and more "deuce," or K2, according to the complaint.

Payments were made either by a third party in person outside of the jail or through an app, investigators said. In the case of Witness 1, his girlfriend, identified only as Witness 2, met Bagnato at an Aldi in McKees Rocks to give him more than $2,000 on Witness 1's behalf, according to the complaint.

Witness 2 confirmed her boyfriend's story and provided investigators screenshots of messages she'd exchanged with Bagnato, according to the complaint. She identified a photo of Bagnato as the man she'd met in McKees Rocks, police said.

Investigators said surveillance footage from inside the jail showed the exchange between Witness 1 and Bagnato on April 10.

Bagnato is charged with bringing in contraband, criminal communications, possession with intent to deliver and possession of a controlled substance.

Authorities said Bagnato was taken into custody when he reported to the jail for his shift on Thursday. He was awaiting arraignment Thursday afternoon.

(c)2021 The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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