Pubdate: Thu, 26 May 2016
Source: Alaska Dispatch News (AK)
Copyright: 2016 Alaska Dispatch Publishing
Note: Anchorage Daily News until July '14
Author: Chris Klint
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


A prison guard at Goose Creek Correctional Center has been arrested 
on federal drug charges after the FBI says the guard admitted he 
tried to smuggle heroin and marijuana into the prison for inmates this week.

Court records show Adam Jason Spindler, 32, is charged with 
possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, as 
well as conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and to 
possess it with the intent to distribute.

According to a criminal complaint against Spindler written by FBI 
Special Agent Richard Fuller, the state Department of Corrections 
earlier this month asked the bureau to investigate suspicions that 
Spindler - a night-shift guard at Goose Creek since April 2013 - was 
"smuggling drugs into GCCC for distribution to inmates."

At about 4:45 p.m. Monday, Fuller said a surveillance unit saw "a 
suspected female drug courier" briefly enter and exit Spindler's 
vehicle outside a Wasilla McDonald's restaurant. Spindler then drove 
to Goose Creek for his 6 p.m. shift, but stopped in the parking lot 
to speak with a fellow correctional officer whose shift was ending, 
identified in the complaint only as CO-1.

As a Department of Corrections K-9 vehicle sat in the lot, Fuller 
said Spindler told the other officer he was carrying recreational 
marijuana, which he didn't want the dog to detect.

"CO-1 offered to take the marijuana and get rid of it for Spindler," 
Fuller wrote. "Spindler gave CO-1 a bag, which CO-1 thought contained 
only personal use marijuana."

Security staff at Goose Creek detained Spindler when he entered the 
prison and searched his personal effects, while the K-9 unit and FBI 
agents searched his vehicle. Although the dog indicated the presence 
of drugs inside the vehicle, none were found in either search.

Shortly afterward, however, CO-1 called to say he had just heard from 
fellow prison staff of the FBI searching Spindler's vehicle. He 
reported the bag Spindler had given him - as well as his suspicion, 
on closer examination, that it also contained heroin.

"GCCC personnel used (a narcotics test) on the drugs and obtained 
positive results for the probable presence of heroin and marijuana," 
Fuller wrote. "The heroin weighed approximately 1.67 grams, an amount 
that is consistent with the intent to distribute, and the marijuana 
weighed approximately .515 grams."

When FBI agents spoke with Spindler, he corroborated CO-1's account, 
saying he was "spooked" by the presence of the K-9 unit, according to Fuller.

"Spindler admitted that he intended to distribute the drugs inside 
GCCC to an inmate," Fuller wrote.

An Alaska inmate database listed Spindler in custody at the Anchorage 
Jail Wednesday morning.

At a Wednesday press conference in Anchorage, U.S. Attorney Karen 
Loeffler declined to answer most questions about the Spindler case, 
but said nobody else has yet been charged in the ongoing investigation.

Loeffler said the case was being prosecuted in federal case because 
it involved "public corruption."

"We step in because we have a part with our federal agencies, and we 
want to make our communities safe," Loeffler said. "When you have a 
public servant that's acting illegally, that's public corruption."

DOC Commissioner Dean Williams called Wednesday both a "difficult 
day" and a "fantastic day" for the department, citing Spindler's 
alleged betrayal of the public trust as well as the coordinated 
effort by federal and state agencies that led to his arrest.

"One of our correctional officers sort of went to the dark side, and 
he's now behind the walls he was responsible for guarding during his 
career," Williams said. "The level of cooperation between this 
department and the (FBI) shows the way forward for us."

Corey Allen-Young, a DOC spokesperson, said the case against Spindler 
was the result of a tip to the department's two-month-old 
Professional Conduct Unit. The three-person unit is charged with 
investigating a variety of issues ranging from ethical concerns to 
staff complaints within DOC, but focuses on potential criminal matters.

"This information was developed quite frankly as a result of our unit 
that just stood up," Allen-Young said. "This is something that's a 
priority, to stop the spread of drugs in the institutions."

Williams said he was studying similar correctional internal-affairs 
units in Montana and other states, because they "make sure that I as 
commissioner am dealing with employees fairly and equitably."

"I want everyone handled the same way I would want to be treated 
myself," Williams said.

According to Loeffler, the heroin seized in the Spindler case is 
worth $50 to $100 on Anchorage streets, although its value would 
likely be higher behind bars. If Spindler is convicted, he could face 
a maximum 20-year sentence in connection with the heroin.

Allen-Young said in an email DOC has placed Spindler, whose only 
posting with the department was at Goose Creek, on administrative leave.

"Since Mr. Spindler has not been convicted of his alleged crime, 
being placed on administrative leave is the normal protocol," 
Allen-Young wrote.

Visitors to Goose Creek have also been accused of trying to bring 
drugs into the prison in the past, with Wasilla woman Tiffany Becker 
arrested in January on state drug charges. Last year another woman, 
Gwendoline Maka, was arrested after troopers said two inmates - 
Mavaega Tautua and Aaron Aasa - told her how to smuggle drugs into 
Goose Creek, a scheme tracked by prison officials who monitored their 
phone calls.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom