Ore. CO accused of accepting bribes to smuggle in contraband to inmates

The CO is accused of accepting bribes to smuggle in marijuana, phones, cigarettes and designer sneakers to inmates in custody


By Maxine Bernstein
OregonLive.com

SHERIDAN, Ore. — A prison guard at the federal prison in Sheridan has been indicted, accused of accepting bribes to smuggle in contraband, including marijuana, phones, cigarettes and designer sneakers, to inmates in custody.

Nickolas Herrera is accused of accepting cash and online payments from Elizabeth McIntosh, an acquaintance of inmate Dontae Hunt, according to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Herrera worked as a correctional officer at the Federal Correctional Institution Sheridan from April 2015 until Dec. 23, 2019, when he was placed on leave.

The three are accused of conspiring to provide or possess contraband in prison. McIntosh is also accused of bribing a public official, and Herrera is accused of accepting a bribe.

The activity occurred from the spring of 2019 through the end of that year, according to the indictment.

Herrera accepted hundreds of dollars in cash from McIntosh at various locations, including her home in Beaverton. He also received money via PayPal and other online services from McIntosh, the indictment alleges.

Herrera brought the money into Housing Unit J2 at the Federal Detention Center at Sheridan, which houses pretrial detainees, where Hunt was held in March 2019, prosecutors allege. The corrections officer later transferred to work in the visitors lobby at the main prison, where he also is accused of smuggling contraband from visitors to inmates while conducting “fake searches” of the inmates, the indictment alleges.

On at least one occasion, Herrera allowed Hunt to make a phone call from the prison to arrange for the delivery of Suboxone for Herrera to smuggle into prison, the indictment says.

Another time, Herrera demanded a cash advance of $950 to smuggle in a cell phone from McIntosh to Hunt, the indictment alleges. McIntosh also provided a pair of Yeezy brand shoes to Herrera to smuggle behind bars to Hunt, the indictment alleges.

McIntosh, 33, of Beaverton, made her first court appearance Monday afternoon. She pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and bribing a public official. A five-day jury trial is tentatively set for early January.

As of Monday, Herrera, 31, of McMinnville, and Hunt, 39, hadn’t appeared on the charges.

Hunt, 39, has been in custody awaiting trial on a separate federal case, facing charges of conspiring to distribute drugs, felon in possession of a firearm and money laundering. The trial started Monday in federal court in Portland but was abruptly postponed until Dec. 1 after a juror reported being sick Monday night, according to federal authorities.

In October 2016, former President Barak Obama commuted the 2005 sentence of Hunt, who had been convicted of possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Sept. 23, 2005, according to court records.

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(c)2020 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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