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Roxbury correctional officer charged with possession of pot with intent to deliver to inmates

September 05, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A 22-year-old correctional officer at Roxbury Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown was charged Thursday with possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver it inside the prison.

Krista Blank, of 15418 Mount Savage Road in Mount Savage, Md., was charged with possessing marijuana and contraband, and with possessing the materials with the intent to distribute them inside a place of confinement, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services officials said in a news release.

Blank was seen Thursday afternoon going into a staff bathroom. After she left, investigators searched the bathroom and found a bag containing suspected marijuana, and another bag containing tobacco, according to allegations in documents filed in Washington County District Court.

Blank admitted to Warden Nancy Rouse that she had taken the contraband inside the institution for someone, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Internal Investigative Unit officer alleged in charging documents.

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According to policy, Blank is on administrative leave with pay pending termination, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman Mark Vernarelli said Thursday.

Vernarelli could not say where in the bathroom the contraband was hidden.

Blank was released Thursday on personal recognizance, court records show. She is scheduled to appear in court in October.

Conviction on charges of possession of contraband with the intent to deliver and possession of contraband with the intent to distribute them inside a place of confinement each carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison. Conviction on a charge of possession of marijuana carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

"We are vigilant in our contraband control efforts at every facility entry point at all facilities," Vernarelli said in an e-mail. He said that includes "Searches and checks on goods and supplies, vehicles, inmates, visitors and staff. We have stepped up these efforts over the past year, bringing increased resources, technology, K-9 and Intel focus to bear on this critical issue, which has such a great impact on the safety of our facilities, staff and inmates.

"We continue these efforts and work with our employees and the recognized bargaining unit AFSCME to do everything we can to have reasonable policies in effect to ensure secure and safe facilities."

Nine employees were strip-searched Aug. 12 at the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown.

A special Maryland Division of Correction Contraband Interdiction Team (CIT) conducted the searches after wand tests indicated traces of drugs, but no contraband was found either on employees or in their vehicles, prison officials have said.

MCTC Warden D. Kenneth Horning requested that the CIT perform the scans and searches because of a recent increase of contraband-related problems, prison officials have said.

Some of the employees who were searched have met with members of the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to air their grievances.

Secretary Gary D. Maynard, in a letter to the editor on the Opinion page in the Aug. 27 Herald-Mail, wrote that while the strip search was well-intentioned, "The hastily organized implementation of these procedures caused stress and embarrassment to some very fine employees."

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