12 charged in long-running state prison smuggling scheme

Thursday, July 11, 2019

BUTTE (AP) — A dozen people who include current and former inmates and a plumber face charges in a long-running operation to smuggle tobacco and other contraband into the Montana State Prison, according to prosecutors.

Charges were filed last week after an investigation into the 2½-year smuggling operation that began after the plumber was found with baggies and pouches of tobacco on him during a random 2017 search of prison employees, The Montana Standard reported.

The court documents filed by the Powell County Attorney’s Office say the plumber, John Campbell, is charged with 39 felony counts alleging smuggling and conspiracy crimes, and that he made at least $10,000 for his part in the alleged conspiracy.

Inmate workers who Campbell supervised helped smuggle the tobacco and other illegal items, such as a cellphone, to inmates at the Deer Lodge prison between 2015 and 2017, prosecutors said.

The Powell County attorney’s office says the defendants have a July 30 court appearance scheduled and that Campbell did not have an attorney as of Wednesday.

A message left at an Anaconda phone listing for Campbell was not immediately returned.

The 74 total charges filed against the 12 people were the result of an anti-corruption investigation into the prison by state and FBI officials, prosecutors said in court documents.

Campbell was fired after the tobacco was found on him during the 2017 search, Montana State Prison spokeswoman Amy Barton said. She said she could not comment on whether the anti-corruption investigation is continuing.