Former corrections officer accused in smuggling ring at Riverside Correctional Facility

Philadelphia prison officials claim they are working to stop smuggling in the city’s jail system.

An exterior of a prison is shown, with green grass visible in the foreground.

The Riverside Correctional Facility on State Road in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A grand jury in Philadelphia has returned indictments against a corrections officer and others in a major smuggling scheme inside the Philadelphia prison system.

Barry Garland is accused of running a criminal operation from his cell at the Riverside Correctional Facility by using a cellphone allegedly smuggled in by corrections officer Kalif Workman, said Assistant DA Brett Zakeosian.

“Workman accepted approximately $23,000 to bring contraband in for Mr. Garland,” said Zakeosian. “Another person who was involved in this is Lashonda Crawford, who’s an associate of Mr. Garland, who handled both money and narcotics for him.”

Prosecutors allege that Crawford paid the majority of the bribes to Workman and provided him with narcotics, particularly synthetic marijuana.

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The smuggled phone was key to giving law enforcement the evidence necessary to make the arrest, including showing how Garland arranged to have an AR-15 semi-automatic gun delivered to his criminal associates outside the prison.  The presentment said the gun was purchased with money Garland made selling contraband at the jail.  Garland used Cash App, a mobile payment system, to buy the gun — even though he was in jail and prohibited from controlling or owning a firearm.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said by analyzing the cell phone smuggled into the facility they were able to see how Garland was able to continue to run his criminal enterprise from behind bars.

“Most or nearly all of the evidence necessary to prove the crime is one of the [cellphone’s] unique qualities. It’s very dangerous as a criminal tool, it’s also a very good record of the crimes that were committed.”

Workman quit his job before the presentment, and Krasner said the prison system is using numerous methods to stop smuggling.

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A spokesman for the city’s Dept. of Prisons issued an emailed statement following the indictment:

“The PDP remains committed to doing everything we can to identify individuals who make deliberate decisions to introduce contraband inside our facilities. We are pleased with the outcome of this investigation in that the former staff member involved will be held accountable and face full prosecution. We will fully cooperate with the authorities in the investigation of any person who makes the decision to commit such crimes.”

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