|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former correction officer at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton pleaded guilty today to smuggling a cell phone to a Bloods gang leader in the prison in 2008.
Brian C. Teel, 45, of Hamilton (Mercer County), pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of official misconduct before Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier in Mercer County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Teel be sentenced to five years in state prison. He must forfeit his state pension and will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. Sentencing for Teel is scheduled for Sept. 27.
In pleading guilty, Teel admitted that he smuggled a cell phone into New Jersey State Prison to Clarence Scott, 39, the leader of the Nine Trey Hillside Beehive set of the Bloods street gang. Teel was paid $500 to smuggle the cell phone to Scott, who allegedly was continuing to control his gang by issuing orders from the prison, where he is serving a life sentence, including 35 years of parole ineligibility, for a 2002 murder conviction.
Deputy Attorney General Christopher Romanyshyn, Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea.
“This defendant had a sworn duty to protect the public by maintaining the security of the correctional facility where he worked, but he completely inverted that duty by smuggling a cell phone to a gang leader, which that gangster was able to use to continue to orchestrate violent crime in our communities from behind bars,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Mr. Teel will now be spending a significant amount of time on the other side of those bars.”
“This former correction officer put himself in league with the inmates he guarded, so it is fitting that he will be officially joining their ranks as a result of this plea,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice.
Teel was indicted on April 6, 2010, along with Scott and 20 other members and associates of the Nine Trey Hillside Beehive set, which had its base of operation in Paterson but engaged in criminal activities that extended through Passaic, Essex, Monmouth and Cumberland counties. The indictment, which was the first indictment ever returned under the state’s gang criminality statute, was the result of Operation Swarm, an investigation by the New Jersey State Police, Division of Criminal Justice, Department of Corrections’ Special Investigations Division, Paterson Police Department, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and Passaic County Sheriff’s Department.
Twenty of the 22 defendants charged in the indictment have since pleaded guilty to various charges, including gang criminality, murder conspiracy, and narcotics and weapons offenses. Most of those defendants were sentenced to state prison, with terms ranging from five to 20 years. Charges remain pending against Scott.