Fmr. Bucks Co. Corrections Officer Charged with Smuggling as Part of Drug Ring Involving Inmates
Updated: 2 p.m.
A former Bucks County Corrections Officer has been charged with smuggling the powerful drug suboxone into the county jail as part of a drug ring involving inmates and one juvenile.
For about 18 months Joseph Jennings, 31 0f Warminster, smuggled in the powerful opioid synthetic Suboxone into the Bucks County Correctional Facility, investigators say.
Jennings who was fired in July of last year when confronted by county investigators initially denied the allegations against him.
Jennings was fired last July after being confronted by investigators after the interception of a letter sent to inmates at the prison, according to investigators. He worked at the correctional facility for five years county records show.
Jennings, investigators say, coordinated the drug exchanges through coded messages. Inmates referred to the corrections officer as “Leonidas,” in reference to the the movie “300” the criminal complaint alleges.
Investigators were tipped off to the smuggling ring in October 2018, when an inmate told them a guard was smuggling the opioid into the jail every week, sometimes as many as 100 strips at a time, court records show.
Jennings was arraigned on Monday on charges of contraband, operating a corrupt organization and drug possession charges
Jennings told investigators in interviews last summer that he only smuggled in on one occasion (in his socks) however, investigators later found evidence at the former had been smuggling in the powerful synthetic opioid on several occasions according to court records.
In one instance Jennings met with the drug supplier at a local watering hole near his home agreeing to bring the drugs into the correctional facility for $3000.00
Prosecutors say on the outside, Joseph Robert Wilson and Vicent McCandless’s juvenile son supplied Jennings with the Suboxone. Inmates who purchased the drugs paid through various methods, often soliciting family members to wire money to Wilson, or deposit funds into McCandless’s prison commissary account.
McCandless, 35, and Wilson, 40, of Philadelphia; as well as Korhan, 47, face the same charges as Jennings for their roles in the scheme. Wilson was arraigned Wednesday and jailed for lack of bail set at 10 percent of $500,000
Additionally, Richard Dzielinski, 40, of Philadelphia, and Travis Davies, 32, of the Levittown area, are charged in the case with dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and other counts relating to the possession and organized sale of drugs in the prison.
Robert Monacelli, 28, of Falls Township, is charged with possession of contraband by an inmate, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and conspiracy.
Another of the nine defendants, a Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, man is charged with possession of contraband by an inmate, criminal use of a communications facility and conspiracy. Also arraigned Wednesday, he was released on unsecured bail set at $25,000, authorities said.
Several of the defendants have not yet been arraigned. This case was investigated by the Bucks County Detectives Drug Strike Force and Bucks County Correctional Facility Investigators. Agents of the Pennsylvania Parole Board, as well as the Philadelphia Police Department’s Intensive Drug Investigation Squad and PPD 26th District Violence Reduction Unit assisted in the investigation. The case is assigned for prosecution to Deputy District Attorney Mary Kate Kohler
Inmates who allegedly worked with Jennings on the conspiracy to import the drugs into the jail tested positive for opioids during subsequent searches and urine drug screenings, and had “unused strips” found in their cells, court records show.
Jennings was released upon posting 10 % of $500,000 bail.
Several of the defendants have yet to be arraigned.