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Prison officer charged with taking bribes

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Editorial Staff

A senior prison officer with a special remit to investigate malfeasance by inmates and fellow officers at a California jail has been charged with accepting bribes and smuggling contraband into the prison.

Paul James Hayes II, 49, of Victorville, is alleged to have accepting a bribe from "a public official" and conspiring to "provide and possess contraband in prison." Hayes was a lieutenant with the Bureau of Prisons Special Investigation Services (SIS), which investigates illegal activity by correctional officers and inmates. He made his initial court appearance on Friday in United States District Court and is expected to be released on a USD170,000 bond.

It is alleged that, beginning in June 2018, Bureau of Prisons Special Investigation Services employees reviewed suspicious emails and telephone conversations between an inmate and his girlfriend, Angel Marie Wagner, 42, of Buena Park. The conversations included references to Wagner meeting a Bureau of Prisons staff member outside a Home Depot store in Victorville on 15 July 2018. A review of other inmates' communications revealed that money transfers were being made to Wagner, according to court documents. On 15 July, agents covertly watched Hayes arrive at the Victorville Home Depot in his Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. The agents allegedly also observed Wagner walk from her rental vehicle to Hayes’s SUV, then hand Hayes a brown-coloured envelope, which Hayes took and placed inside his vehicle.

When questioned, Wagner identified Hayes from a photographic line-up and said she had met him multiple times in 2018. Wagner also said she believed she provided Hayes with a total of approximately USD40,000 in cash across their various meetings in 2018, court documents state. Wagner allegedly also admitted to receiving wire transfers of money, which she later would withdraw in cash and place in an envelope and give to Hayes. On other occasions, Wagner said she received from third parties envelopes with cash as well as wrapped items that she suspected were controlled substances or cellular telephones, prosecutors have said in an affidavit. Wagner allegedly admitted giving the cash and the wrapped items to Hayes.

A review of money transfer service records and emails showed that Wagner received money, allegedly, from people associated with the bribery conspiracy. Allegedly, there were also cash deposits totalling USD12,520 made into Hayes’ bank account on at least seven occasions between 8 March and 7 August, 2018, including one deposit for USD4,800 on 29 May, 2018.

Wagner, who was arrested on Friday, has been charged with conspiracy to bribe a public official, bribery of a public official, and conspiracy to provide and possess contraband in prison. She was released on a USD50,000 bond.

If convicted of all charges, Hayes faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison while Wagner faces a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.

No pleas have, so far, been taken.



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