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Pa. correctional officer arrested in 'reverse sting' operation

July 08, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County Prison correctional officer was taken into custody Friday after allegedly attempting to obtain drugs for prison inmates, according to a Pennsylvania State Police press release.

Police said a prison employee was taken into custody at 2:35 p.m. in the parking lot of McDonald's at 1075 Lincoln Way East. Warden John Wetzel confirmed Friday night that the person was a correctional officer, but did not identify the person.

State police, members of its Vice Unit and the Franklin County Drug Task Force participated in the "reverse sting" operation. The officer was attempting to obtain the prescription painkiller OxyContin to deliver to several inmates, according to the release.

The name of the officer and any other suspects were being withheld pending the filing of charges, according to the release. Prison officials were aware of the investigation and cooperating, according to the release.

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"We were on board with it," Wetzel said of the investigation. He said the investigation focused on "one isolated employee," and that any other suspects likely were inmates seeking to get the drugs from the officer.

"We have a very professional staff ... Anytime something like this happens, it makes everyone look bad," Wetzel said. "Fortunately, things like this are very rare."

Wetzel said prison officials notify the District Attorney's Office and state police whenever there is a suspicion of illegal activity at the prison. In this case, however, the investigation was initiated outside the prison, he said.

The county prison complex on Franklin Farm Lane has about 100 employees, more than 80 of them correctional staff, Wetzel said. In recent years, the inmate population for the main prison and work release annex has averaged more than 300 per day.

Police said there was no indication the officer has gotten any drugs to inmates prior to being taken into custody.

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