Pubdate: Wed, 12 Jul 2006
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Gordon Kent
Bookmark: (Corruption - Outside U.S.)


'Now I'm No Better Than One Of Them Guys,' Police Told

EDMONTON - A former Edmonton Remand Centre guard admitted Tuesday he 
repeatedly smuggled in drugs for inmates before police caught him 
heading to work carrying hundreds of pills.

Matthew Domke started bringing prisoners tobacco in December 2004 
because he felt sorry for them after the province banned smoking in 
jails, according to evidence presented in provincial court.

All he apparently received for his trouble was a carton of cigarettes 
and some cocaine. Domke, a guard for roughly three years, thought the 
tobacco would help keep inmates calm and prevent fights.

"When you got 48 guys on the (cell) range, testosterone flows and 
beatings happen," he told Edmonton police Det. Kevin Brezinski.

Domke, 24, discovered some pouches he took inside the centre, which 
he picked up from people who knew the inmates, also contained marijuana.

He estimated he brought drugs into the facility six or seven times 
over roughly three months, telling Brezinski he was worried that if 
he stopped inmates would inform on him.

"The conscience was starting to feel guilty ... I figured I shouldn't 
be doing this," Domke said. "I'm uniformed staff ... now I'm no 
better than one of them guys."

When Brezinski heard Domke was delivering drugs to inmates, the guard 
was put under surveillance.

On Feb. 8, 2005, officers watched the uniformed guard pick up a box 
from a Mill Woods home and drive to the remand centre, where he was 
arrested before his afternoon shift. The box, which he carried inside 
a knapsack, contained marijuana and about 550 pills, including 
morphine and codeine. The drugs were worth about $15,500 inside the 
centre, almost five times their street value.

Domke pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing controlled 
substances for the purpose of trafficking. He said he agreed to 
deliver the package for a man from whom he bought the cocaine.

Domke said he met the dealer through an inmate. He said the dealer 
once swung a baton and talked about people he had beaten up, and 
Domke was afraid the same thing would happen to him or his family if 
he did not co-operate.

He was fired after he was arrested. It's unclear whether he was paid 
for his illegal activities, though at one point in his interview with 
Brezinski he mentioned getting "money and an adrenaline rush."

Crown prosecutor Larry Ackerl said Domke never reported his problems 
to authorities or spoke about them to his uncle, also a remand staff member.

"Mr. Domke has walked an increasingly perilous path from obeying the 
law to enforcing the law to violating the law," said Ackerl, who 
asked for an eight-year prison sentence.

"This path has taken him from citizen to peace officer to criminal."

Judge Mike Allen will give his sentencing decision Sept. 15.

Defence lawyer Ravi Prithipaul argued that his client should be put 
under house arrest for the maximum two years less a day, being 
allowed out only to go to his job as an apprentice mechanic.

Prithipaul described Domke as gullible and naive young man, saying he tried

to get away from the situation by asking to change shifts or transfer 
to another area.

"He has taken that initial step down a slope and progressively 
realizes that he is in more and more danger, he's more and more vulnerable."

Dr. Dorothy Constable, a psychologist who interviewed Domke last 
September, wrote in a report that guards at the remand centre often 
get little direction on ways to deal with difficult situations.

Some staff feel that raising concerns with their superiors will make 
the problem worse, so they are often left to develop their own 
strategies, she wrote.

"It was the opinion of collateral sources contacted that the culture 
of the organization would have contributed to Mr. Domke's failure to 
disclose his situation or seek advice if, as he suggests, he found 
himself in a situation over his head."
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