During our investigation we reviewed in detail several cases in which inmates were prosecuted for crimes using prison telephones. We first examine the activities of Rayful Edmond III and three inmates who were involved with Edmond’s drug trafficking – Jose Naranjo, Freddy Aguilera, and Nelson Garcia. All of them conducted drug trafficking activities from prison. Next, we examine the case of Anthony Jones, an inmate at Allenwood's Low Security Facility who successfully ordered the murder of a witness over the telephone from that facility. We then focus on Oreste Abbamonte, an inmate twice convicted for dealing drugs using prison telephones, yet someone who still retains full telephone privileges. We also describe the BOP’s actions in these cases, and their response to evidence of criminal activities conducted over the telephone by these inmates. After addressing these cases, we then describe our review of prison files of four other inmates, whose convictions received significant publicity, to determine what telephone restrictions, if any, the BOP imposed on them.

  1. Rayful Edmond III and Related Cases

    1. Rayful Edmond III

      In September 1989, Rayful Edmond III was convicted in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on charges of running a continuing criminal enterprise. Prosecutors characterized Edmond’s drug organization as a sophisticated enterprise that moved thousands of kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $15 million onto Washington, D.C. streets between 1987 and 1989. Prosecutors alleged that Edmond controlled as much as 30 percent of Washington's cocaine market. His drug organization was linked to 30 homicides. Edmond’s case received significant regional and national publicity. In September 1990, Edmond was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

      Edmond entered BOP custody on February 16, 1990 at USP Marion. On September 27, 1990, he was transferred to USP Lewisburg, a high security institution in central Pennsylvania, with approximately 1,000 inmates. At that time, Lewisburg did not have the ITS system and inmates made collect calls. At Lewisburg, Edmond was given a job assignment as an orderly.

      On October 21, 1990 – less than a month after entering Lewisburg – a telephone monitor who listened to one of Edmond's telephone calls submitted a written report to the SIS office in Lewisburg that “Edmond was talking to Squirrel about what seemed to be drug deals.” The SIS report stated that “Edmond says just because he is locked up doesn't mean he can't get what he needs.” The report also noted that Edmond was on the “hot list” at the time, a list of inmates that deserve special attention from the SIS.

      After receiving the report from the officer, the SIS Lieutenant in the Lewisburg SIS office made a note to the file on November 1, 1990, indicating that he needed to consult with the FBI regarding what appeared to be continuing drug activity by Edmond. The SIS Lieutenant reported to us that he was confident that he consulted with FBI Special Agent Richard Rodgers – an FBI agent assigned at that time to investigate criminal activity at Lewisburg – within a few days of when he made the note to the file. The SIS Lieutenant stated that because of his knowledge of Edmond's extensive drug dealing history, he spoke with Rodgers about “what to watch for and how to proceed” with monitoring Edmond's activities. The SIS Lieutenant told the OIG that Rodgers advised him to keep a close watch on Edmond and report any additional suspicious activity to him.

      The SIS Lieutenant told the OIG that he does not recall uncovering any additional suspicious activity by Edmond or consulting with the FBI about Edmond on any other occasion. There is no record of continuing consultations with Rodgers in BOP files, nor did Rodgers recall, when interviewed by the OIG, receiving any additional information from the SIS Lieutenant or anyone else in the BOP about Edmond’s possible drug activity from prison.

      However, according to an undated chronology prepared by the BOP and provided to us, the SIS office at Lewisburg picked up “continuing intelligence on Rayful Edmond utilizing phones to continue drug trafficking operations.” The chronology does not note the nature of the intelligence, but states that the information was forwarded to the BOP’s Intelligence Section. There is no indication that any such additional information was ever shared with the FBI. The BOP chronology also indicates that on December 17, 1990, and January 19, 1991, telephone monitors wrote additional telephone monitoring reports about suspicious activity by Edmond. Although the BOP chronology states that the “investigation continues,” the SIS Lieutenant could not describe for us the details of this investigation or any steps the BOP took to notify the FBI of continuing drug activity by Edmond.

      Edmond was never punished for any of these telephone calls, despite the fact that the BOP noted that many of Edmond’s calls from prison were three-way calls that are prohibited under BOP regulations.

      In a memorandum he later wrote to his supervisors, Rodgers stated that he did not recall any FBI investigation of Edmond at Lewisburg prior to the investigation the FBI began in August 1991, which was based on information from an informant. Rodgers told the OIG that it was “entirely probable” that the suspicious call by Edmond in 1990 had been brought to his attention. However, Rodgers said that the BOP did not ask the FBI to open an investigation of Edmond and, based on the single telephone call noted by the BOP, Rodgers would not have opened an investigation.

      Rodgers also told the OIG that he was unaware of Edmond’s criminal background in 1990. He wrote in a memorandum that: “At the time, Rayful Edmond was not perceived by me to be any significant criminal individual in which the FBI may have had an interest, as he had just been sentenced to prison. He was simply one of many drug dealers, even large-scale drug dealers, who was confined at the USP, Lewisburg. . . .” Rodgers told the OIG that the approximately 1,200 inmates housed at Lewisburg place more than 80,000 calls a month. Given this volume of calls, Rodgers said the FBI would generally not open an investigation based on a single suspicious call by an inmate.

      1. FBI Investigation of Edmond

        In August 1991, a former FBI informant incarcerated at Lewisburg contacted the FBI in Washington, D.C., to report that Edmond was dealing cocaine from prison. Based on this information, Rodgers and other FBI agents obtained copies of Edmond's previously recorded telephone calls from Lewisburg. In April 1992, the FBI and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department began six months of court-authorized interceptions of the telephones in Edmond's cellblock. During this time, the FBI learned that Edmond was arranging drug deals from prison through Colombian suppliers that he had met in Lewisburg. One of these former inmates was Osvaldo Trujillo-Blanco, who upon his release from Lewisburg had become Edmond's main drug supplier.

        In October 1992, Trujillo-Blanco was assassinated in Colombia, thus cutting off Edmond's supply of cocaine. Consequently, the FBI suspended its investigation of Edmond and refocused its attention on remaining coconspirators. Thereafter, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for both the District of Columbia and the Middle District of Pennsylvania (MDPA) decided that, based on the evidence that had been accumulated at the time, it was unlikely that Edmond would be indicted on new charges stemming from his activities in prison. The MDPA USAO turned the matter over to the warden at Lewisburg, informing him in a November 19, 1992 letter that Edmond had used prison telephones two or more hours a day to conduct drug deals involving former Lewisburg inmates now living in Medellin, Colombia. Attached to the letter was a court order dated November 10, 1992, which permitted the MDPA USAO to disclose wiretap information to the BOP “for use in connection with the administration of prisons and inmates therein.”

        According to the records we reviewed and interviews with prosecutors, the BOP did not respond to the letter from the MDPA USAO. The Lewisburg SIS and the BOP apparently did not request any wiretap information the FBI had accumulated on Edmond or open any investigation of him. Nor did the BOP take any action to discipline Edmond or restrict his calling privileges in any way, even though, according to federal prosecutors from the D.C. USAO, they had received informal assurances from SIS staff at Lewisburg that the BOP would take action against Edmond.

        In April 1994, an inmate who had been transferred to Lewisburg informed the FBI that Edmond was continuing to broker cocaine deals from prison involving Washington-area drug dealers. Shortly thereafter, the FBI began using the informant in an undercover operation targeting Edmond and other USP Lewisburg inmates, Nelson Garcia and Cali-cartel leader Freddie Aguilera, who were running a cocaine importation ring from prison. After extensive investigation and the seizure of a multi-kilogram cocaine shipment near Newark International Airport, the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys investigating the case requested that BOP officials remove Edmond, Nelson and Garcia from the Lewisburg population in order to conduct searches of their prison cells. While held in temporary segregation, the FBI confronted Edmond with evidence of his drug trafficking activity in prison. Edmond offered to cooperate with law enforcement officials.

        The FBI applied to the Department of Justice for approval to use Edmond in undercover operations at Lewisburg. Garcia and Edmond were subsequently returned to Lewisburg but held in segregation. According to prosecutors from the D.C. USAO, the warden and the SIS office at Lewisburg initially agreed that it was safe to return Edmond to the general population. However, BOP Headquarters opposed the use of Edmond in any investigation and even considered transferring him to USP Leavenworth. The BOP told us that it objected to allowing Edmond to cooperate based on concerns for Edmond’s safety, as well as for the safe and orderly running of the prison. The ensuing dispute between the BOP and the prosecutors handling the investigation was acrimonious, with prosecutors charging that the BOP was obstructing the criminal investigation. The disagreement was referred to Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Merrick Garland, who overruled the BOP and had Edmond sign a release in November 1994 stating that he believed himself to be safe in the general population in Lewisburg.

        Edmond was returned to Lewisburg and cooperated in investigations of drug trafficking in and out of prison. Edmond’s cooperation resulted in numerous arrests and indictments and convictions of drug traffickers, including the indictment of six persons in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and the arrests of ten others in Washington, D.C. Two of the drug traffickers arrested with Edmond’s help were Freddy Aguilera and Nelson Garcia, inmates serving long drug-related sentences in Lewisburg with Edmond. Their cases are discussed below.

      2. The OIG Interview of Edmond

        The OIG arranged to interview Edmond on May 28, 1998, in the D.C. courthouse’s holding cell about his use of prison telephones. Edmond told us that during his six-year stay at Lewisburg, the institution only had collect calling and inmates could call anyone who would accept the charges. He said telephones were available between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. daily. While most inmates did not have access to telephones during their work assignments (which typically ended at 3:00 p.m.), he said that some inmates – himself included – worked as orderlies within the housing units and had access to telephones throughout the day.

        Edmond said that during his incarceration at Lewisburg he talked on the telephone “all day long” and made arrangements for drug deals on the telephone almost every day, including by participating in conference calls to Colombia.26 Edmond claimed that he arranged to have drugs brought into Lewisburg 50 or 60 times. He estimated that almost half of Lewisburg’s inmates were involved in bringing drugs into the institution, claiming that inmates used each other's friends to deliver the drugs. He said that most of these drug deals were arranged by telephone. According to Edmond, more than half of inmates' telephone use is for “doing wrong,” not for staying in contact with their families.

        Edmond said that he had little concern about conducting drug deals on prison telephones because he knew that most calls were not being monitored. He believed that his recorded calls would only be listened to if prison officers had other intelligence that gave them a reason to listen to the calls. Edmond also said he was not concerned because he knew that the telephones were monitored for the internal security of the prison and not to prevent inmates from dealing drugs on the outside. At worst, he thought he would lose his telephone privileges for a short period of time or be put in the special housing unit if he were caught violating the BOP’s telephone rules. He said the prospect of these light punishments did nothing to deter him or other inmates from using prison telephones to arrange drug transactions. Edmond said that he never received any disciplinary sanction for telephone abuse, nor has he seen any other inmates disciplined for telephone abuse.

        Edmond said that even if his conversations were monitored, the guards would not know that he was conducting drug deals because they had no “street knowledge.” He said that the rookie guards and the guards working in prisons located in rural areas who have had no contact with the urban environment were particularly unfamiliar with the language used in such telephone conversations. He said that within a two-hour telephone conversation the details of a drug deal may be expressed in ten seconds. Edmond gave the following example: “You should see my new girlfriend. She is six feet tall. She lives down where we used to live on 22nd street.” This seemingly innocuous statement meant that he had six kilos of cocaine to sell for $22,000.

        According to Edmond, it typically took 10 to 15 telephone calls over two days to arrange a drug delivery into the institution. Bits of necessary information were passed through multiple calls to make arrangements, confirm details, and check on the people involved. Edmond said that if inmates' telephone calls were limited to two per week, it would have been difficult or impossible for him to conduct his drug activity.

        Edmond said that some of the telephones at Lewisburg were also monitored by video cameras, but that inmates learned which cameras were broken because fights and stabbings that occurred in view of the cameras did not result in any disciplinary action. Similarly, he said that the monitoring cameras in the visiting rooms were easily avoided because the inmates knew where the blind spots were and visitors and inmates passed drugs in those parts of the room.27

        Edmond told the OIG that inmates at different BOP institutions pass information to each other through transferred inmates and sometimes through conference calls and three-way calls. He said that although inmates are prohibited from talking by telephone to inmates at other institutions, “if something big happened at Lompoc, we would know about it at Lewisburg within the hour” through such prohibited calls.

        According to Edmond, inmates have a significant amount of control in prison, and it is crucial for the correctional officers and the SIS to foster good relationships with the inmate leadership in order to maintain a stable environment. As a consequence, some guards in the housing units would allow inmates to use their staff telephones. Edmond said some guards would attach a portable tape recorder to record these inmate conversations, but others would not.

    2. Jose Naranjo

      Jose Naranjo was first convicted in September 1979, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm. Naranjo had been arrested in the Bronx, New York, in possession of 153 grams of cocaine and two handguns. In October 1979, Naranjo was also convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and failure to appear in the Southern District of New York. Naranjo was sentenced to a term of 12 years on the first offense and five years on the second.

      In 1983, while serving his sentence at FCI Otisville, New York, he and another inmate took part in a conspiracy to import 650 pounds of cocaine from Colombia, South America, to North Carolina. Using the telephone and other contacts, Naranjo was able to locate a pilot to transport the cocaine into the United States. For that crime, Naranjo was tried and convicted in the Middle District of North Carolina. At the same time, Naranjo also was convicted for arranging to have contacts outside of prison travel from New York to North Carolina with five kilograms of cocaine. He was sentenced to 26 years on the first charge and 15 years on the second.

      After the convictions stemming from his activities in FCI Otisville, Naranjo was transferred to FCI Petersburg, Virginia. According to the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, while in Petersburg, he engaged in at least four other narcotics conspiracies, each one using the telephone and the mail. The first conspiracy was an arrangement by Naranjo for his wife to supply five kilograms of cocaine to an undercover agent outside the prison. Naranjo’s wife became suspicious and did not go forward with the transaction. In the second conspiracy, Naranjo introduced his wife to a well-known D.C. drug dealer in the visiting room at FCI Petersburg. According to the D.C. USAO, from 1990 to 1992, Naranjo and his wife routinely arranged to supply the D.C. drug dealer with multiple kilograms of cocaine, the largest known shipment being 76 kilograms. Naranjo kept in contact with both his wife and the D.C. drug dealer using the prison telephones, mail, and visiting room. Third, in 1991 and 1992 Naranjo arranged for a Petersburg inmate who was to be released from prison to provide protection for his wife in her New York City-based drug distribution network. The inmate cooperated with the FBI and Naranjo’s wife was arrested and convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin in the Southern District of New York. She was sentenced to 121 months in prison.

      Fourth, after his wife’s arrest, Naranjo turned to the D.C. drug dealer to help him keep his drug distribution network going. Naranjo would contact the D.C. drug dealer by telephone, who in turn would place conference calls to Naranjo’s suppliers in Colombia and throughout the U.S. Through these contacts, Naranjo arranged to have a supplier come to the U.S. illegally to set up a cocaine “pipeline” that would regularly supply multiple kilograms of cocaine to the Washington, D.C. area. Naranjo also enlisted the aid of his cellmate for help in obtaining funds to purchase the cocaine and in locating purchasers for the cocaine. Naranjo and his cellmate used the telephone to talk with the cellmate’s contacts on the outside and introduced one of those contacts to a New York heroin supplier.

      In December 1992, the D.C. drug dealer, who had also been part of Rayful Edmond's Washington, D.C. drug trafficking operation, was arrested and began to cooperate with the FBI. As a result, the FBI began to investigate Naranjo. The FBI arrested Naranjo and six others in November 1993 for the fourth conspiracy Naranjo was involved in at Petersburg, as described above.

      In April 1995 Naranjo was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and was sentenced in July 1995 to life in prison. At Naranjo’s sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan recommended that the BOP “have some type of controls on the misuse of telephones by prisoners.”

      In August 1995, D.C. prosecutors met with BOP officials to discuss administrative and legislative responses to the problems raised by the Edmond and Naranjo cases. According to prosecutors, the BOP insisted that telephone and mail abuse by Naranjo could and should be met with nothing more than suspension of privileges for 60 to 90 days or transfer of the inmate. At the meeting, the BOP’s Chief of Intelligence, Craig Trout, agreed to consider such sanctions if prosecutors could outline in writing the nature and extent of Naranjo’s conduct.

      In a letter dated August 15, 1995, D.C. Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Mary Pat Brown wrote to Craig Trout detailing Naranjo's five prior convictions involving drug trafficking. The letter also described Naranjo’s illegal conduct while serving time for drug trafficking at FCI Otisville in 1983. The letter stated that, even after indictment in the most recent case, Naranjo had attempted to engage in drug trafficking using the telephone from the Prince William County Adult Detention Center, where he had been held pending trial. The letter explained that, while housed in the Detention Center, Naranjo was not allowed physical contact with any visitors (other than his attorney and representatives of the Colombian Embassy), or other prisoners, and was not allowed to use the telephone. Still, Naranjo managed to make contact with another inmate and asked him to make telephone calls for him. He also managed to write letters to another Washington-area drug dealer who was a former inmate at FCI Petersburg. He also told the inmate that he had contracted to kill the D.C. drug dealer, and he tried to recruit the inmate to sell cocaine for him when the inmate was released from prison.

      Brown’s letter concluded that despite the fact that Naranjo had been incarcerated for the past 16 years, he was able to continue his criminal activities unabated. The letter urged the BOP to “prohibit Naranjo's use of prison telephones altogether (with the exception of attorney-client calls), to screen his correspondence, and to permit only non-contact visits.”

      Despite the fact that Naranjo had been convicted for activities from Petersburg, he was returned to FCI Petersburg after his sentencing in late August 1995. The following month, AUSA Brown wrote to the SIS staff at Petersburg detailing the acts for which Naranjo had been indicted, tried, and convicted in his most recent case. Based on these acts, the SIS at Petersburg filed disciplinary charges against Naranjo and he was transferred to USP Florence in October 1995. In January 1996, Naranjo was found guilty of these administrative charges and lost five years of visiting privileges, 14 months of telephone privileges, and was placed in segregation for 90 days.

      On February 6, 1996, USP Florence warden Joel H. Knowles wrote Judge Hogan thanking him for his recommendation on Naranjo’s judgment and commitment order in reply to Hogan’s July 1995 sentencing remarks. Warden Knowles wrote that, due to the number of inmates incarcerated at each BOP facility, it is not possible to monitor every call of every inmate and monitoring is therefore random. However, because of Naranjo's history of telephone abuse, the SIS Office had been notified of the need to monitor his calls more carefully.

      During our review, in November 1998 we asked officials at USP Florence whether Naranjo's telephone communications currently receive any special attention. Naranjo’s telephone privileges were restored in March 1998. We were surprised to learn that, despite Naranjo's history of telephone abuse and the warden's assurances to Judge Hogan, the SIS has made no special effort to monitor Naranjo's telephone calls or mail. In fact, the prison telephone system has not even been programmed to alert BOP staff when Naranjo used the telephone.28

    3. Freddy Aguilera and Nelson Garcia

      Freddy Aguilera, a major international drug trafficker and member of the Cali Cartel, has been characterized by federal prosecutors and the DEA as one of the most significant drug traffickers currently incarcerated in the United States. He established and ran cocaine processing plants in Orange, New Jersey; Gibsonville, North Carolina; and Minden, New York to process Colombian cocaine. While the labs were operating, Aguilera controlled an organization that sold $166 million of cocaine every week.

      Aguilera was tried and convicted in three jurisdictions based on these activities. Aguilera was first convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in July 1988 in the Southern District of Florida. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was next convicted in the Northern District of New York for running a continuing criminal enterprise, based on his running of a cocaine laboratory on a farm in Minden, New York. Authorities discovered the laboratory in April 1985 after an explosion and fire there and learned from codefendants that approximately 1,500 kilograms of cocaine had been produced there in the preceding nine days. In August 1989, Aguilera was sentenced to 30 years for this offense, to run consecutively with the 30 year sentence he received in Florida. Finally, Aguilera was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture cocaine with the intent to distribute in the Middle District of North Carolina. Authorities estimated that 200 to 300 kilograms of cocaine had been manufactured at Aguilera’s cocaine lab in Gibsonville, North Carolina. In June 1990, Aguilera was sentenced to 15 years on that charge, to run concurrently with the sentence in the Northern District of New York. Aguilera was incarcerated in USP Lewisburg.

      Aguilera continued his drug trafficking activities at Lewisburg. As noted above, in 1994 Edmond began cooperating with the government. Based on Edmond’s cooperation, in September 1996 Aguilera was indicted on drug conspiracy charges for drug trafficking activities from Lewisburg. The indictment alleged that Edmond had introduced cocaine purchasers to Aguilera’s agents and couriers outside of prison, who maintained Aguilera’s contacts with Colombian cocaine production facilities. Aguilera used the telephones and the visiting room to plan and direct couriers to supply cocaine shipped from Colombia to Edmond’s contacts in the U.S.

      In March 1997, Aguilera was convicted for his drug activities in Lewisburg and later that year was sentenced to life in prison in addition to the 60-year (aggregate) sentence he was already serving for his four prior convictions.

      Nelson Garcia was also serving a lengthy prison term in Lewisburg for taking part in a continuing criminal drug enterprise. Based on Edmond’s cooperation, Garcia was indicted in September for his participation in a drug conspiracy at Lewisburg with Aguilera. Garcia was convicted in March 1997 and was sentenced to life in prison.

      The BOP originally planned to house both Aguilera and Garcia in Lewisburg, even after their convictions in March 1997. However, after much protest by the D.C. USAO, the warden at Lewisburg intervened and requested that Aguilera be re-designated or transferred based on his need for close supervision. In addition, on September 8, 1997, John Dominguez, the D.C. AUSA who had prosecuted the March 1997 case against Aguilera and Garcia, wrote to the head of BOP’s Correctional Programs Branch requesting that the BOP transfer both Aguilera and Garcia to a prison institution with a higher security level and to “implement measures to prevent [these inmates] from using inmate telephone, mail, and visitation privileges to engage in criminal conduct.”

      Based on the warden’s and the AUSA intervention, Garcia and Aguilera were transferred to USP Marion in October 1997. According to prosecutors, the two were not eligible for the BOP’s most secure facility, Administrative-Maximum (ADX) Florence, Colorado, because they had never incurred any BOP disciplinary infractions despite their criminal convictions for activities in prison.

      According to prison officials at Marion, Aguilera lost his mail and telephone privileges for a year as a result of the drug dealing in Lewisburg. Currently, all of Aguilera's and Garcia’s calls are live monitored. In addition, Aguilera is only permitted to call his mother and his sister.

      Finally, we also discovered a troubling incident with regard to the BOP’s handling of Aguilera’s mail when he was housed at USP Allenwood prior to his March 1997 trial. After the trial was completed, the SIS office at Allenwood turned over to the FBI copies of what they believed to be suspicious correspondence that Aguilera had mailed from Allenwood. Despite the SIS’s suspicions, they had allowed the letters to be mailed. The FBI translated the letters from Spanish and discovered threats to cooperating witnesses, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and others. In one letter, Aguilera had requested that the recipient hire “two or three well paid investigators” to “find these beauties” and “then from there, one or two good 'erasers' of class.” Aguilera also sent a detailed map of the courtroom diagramming where the judge, jury, defendants, defense attorneys, prosecutor, U.S. Marshals, and other law enforcement were located and indicated that he would be sentenced on May 29, 1997 -- suggesting that he was plotting courtroom murders. Upon learning of this correspondence, AUSA Dominguez of the D.C. USAO requested an immediate restriction of Aguilera's privileges, including telephone, mail, and visiting privileges.

      Upon receipt of the Dominguez’s request, the warden at Allenwood agreed to restrict Aguilera's mail, visiting, and telephone privileges pending an internal disciplinary hearing. After the hearing, Aguilera received 30 days in disciplinary segregation and loss of visiting, mail, and telephone privileges for a year.

      Aguilera was confined in a cellblock with seven other inmates and was caught attempting to send mail through the other inmates. He was moved to the hospital ward and completely segregated, but was caught trying to throw a letter out the window to a trustee below who was mowing the lawn. When the OIG reviewed his case in October 1998, Aguilera's mail privileges had been restored at USP Marion.29

    4. OIG Conclusions About the BOP’s Handling of Edmond, Naranjo, Aguilera, and Garcia

      We concluded that the BOP failed to adequately monitor or investigate Edmond’s use of prison phones, which enabled him to continue his drug trafficking while incarcerated. It was the BOP's responsibility – not the FBI's – to monitor Edmond. The FBI made this point to the BOP, but the BOP failed to adequately monitor Edmond’s telephone calls, even after receiving a letter from the U.S. Attorney for the MDPA regarding wiretaps of Edmond’s phones and requesting that the BOP handle the matter appropriately.

      In our interviews with BOP officials, they argued that the BOP adequately discharged its duties when it referred to the FBI the suspicious call made by Edmond on October 21, 1990. We do not agree. A single monitoring report that described “what seemed to be drug deals” viewed in the context of the volume of calls at Lewisburg and the number of monitoring reports containing suspicious calls generated in a single day is not enough information for the FBI to open an investigation. Responsibility for continued monitoring of Edmond's activities lay with the SIS office, not the FBI. The SIS Lieutenant acknowledged that Rodgers told the SIS to continue to monitor Edmond and to report any additional activity. The SIS did not do so.

      In the Naranjo case, we also found that the BOP failed to take sufficient action until pressured to do so by prosecutors and the sentencing judge. Naranjo has been convicted of committing three crimes while incarcerated in BOP facilities. He is serving a life sentence and has no hope of release. Despite this, he now has full telephone privileges, after a suspension of only one year, and his calls receive no special attention by prison officials.30 The warden at USP Florence told the sentencing judge that monitoring each call made by every inmate is not possible. While this may be true, it is certainly possible to monitor all calls made by inmates of particular concern. Naranjo clearly fits in this category. An alert could be easily put into ITS to notify BOP staff whenever Naranjo attempts to use the telephone, and all his calls could be monitored.

      The BOP handled the cases of Garcia and Aguilera more appropriately, but this was due largely to the persistence of the prosecutors who handled their cases. Both Garcia and Aguilera are currently housed at USP Marion where 100 percent of their telephone calls are monitored and their incoming and outgoing mail is reviewed. We believe, however, that the BOP needs to ensure that strict monitoring continues should they be transferred to a less secure facility.

      Because of these cases, FBI agents and prosecutors from the District of Columbia met with BOP officials to discuss possible administrative and legislative responses to the serious systemic problems illustrated by these prosecutions. According to a memorandum written by a prosecutor who attended that meeting, the BOP maintained at the meeting that: (1) inmate abuse of telephone privileges was not widespread and could be addressed through the random monitoring system; (2) the BOP is responsible for policing its “community” of inmates and not for detecting and preventing crimes outside the prison; (3) abuse of telephone, mail, and visiting privileges should be dealt with by a suspension of privileges for not more than 60 to 90 days or by transferring the inmate to another facility.

      The BOP's former Chief of Intelligence, Craig Trout, had a different recollection of the meeting. He said that he made his position clear that BOP has an “interest in taking disciplinary action against such inmates, to include loss of phone privileges, but stressed that we would need to be advised of specific details on which to base our charges.” He stated that he received a negative reaction in response to his overture towards improved information sharing from the FBI, but he “dismissed it in my mind as inconsistent with what I had always understood to be the FBI Headquarters position on matters involving agency level FBI-BOP liaison.”

      We did not attempt to resolve this difference in opinion as to the outcome of that meeting. However, we found in our interviews an attitude by some BOP officials similar to that described in the memorandum by the prosecutor about the meeting between BOP officials and D.C. prosecutors, i.e., that inmate telephone abuse is not a widespread problem.

26 The BOP has argued that Edmond had constant access to the telephones because the BOP was cooperating with the FBI in a covert action using Edmond as a cooperator and that it purposely did not take any disciplinary action against him as a result of his cooperation with government officials. This statement is highly misleading. Edmond used the telephone to conduct drug transactions from October 1990 to July 1994 and was not disciplined in any way despite a request from the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to do so. He was not cooperating with law enforcement during this period. Edmond did not begin cooperating with the FBI until July 1994. Edmond’s use of the telephone in the four years prior to his cooperation, not his use of the telephone after he began to cooperate with law enforcement, is at issue here.

27 Edmond said inmates also used the mail to pass money and drugs in and out of the institution, often taped inside the binder of magazines. Inmates also knew that mail marked as "certified mail" or "legal mail" would not be opened by BOP staff. The BOP told us that it is their policy to open certified mail and that they open legal mail in the presence of an inmate.

28 According to the BOP, since the time of our inquiry about Naranjo’s status, he has been entered into the SENTRY system under the STG phone abuse category and has been placed on alert in ITS.

29 The BOP informed the OIG that, since the time of our initial investigation, Garcia and Aguilera have been placed in the SENTRY system under the STG phone abuse category.

30 As discussed above, the BOP took steps to correct this problem after the OIG began its review of this matter.