Prison guard to plead guilty in drug smuggling case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana State Prison guard plans to plead guilty in a federal investigation that found he and a laundry worker smuggled methamphetamine, marijuana and another drug to inmates at the Deer Lodge facility.

Under a plea deal, Martin Reap will plead guilty to accepting bribes and prosecutors will drop charges of drug conspiracy, possession and distribution, according to the agreement filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Helena.

Reap smuggled methamphetamine and marijuana worth $5,000 or more to prisoners in exchange for payments of $5,000 or more between February 1, 2015, and April 30, 2016, according to the indictment.

During part of that same period, prison laundry worker Erin Bernhardt also smuggled methamphetamine and Suboxone, an addictive drug used to treat narcotic addiction, a separate indictment says. Bernhardt is accused of receiving about $3,000 for bringing the drugs from suppliers in Tennessee to inmates between April and September 2015.

It is unclear whether Reap and Bernhardt delivered the drugs to the same inmates for greater distribution in the prison. Bernhardt's indictment says she gave the drugs to prisoner Ian Scott Barclay, while Reap's indictment states he delivered the drugs to unnamed co-conspirators behind bars.

U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Melissa Hornbein declined to comment, and Reap's public defender, Michael Donahoe, did not return a call seeking comment.

Bernhardt and Barclay have pleaded not guilty to drug and bribery charges. Former inmate Cordero Robert Metzker and two Tennessee women, Rachel Leanna Ross of Collierville and Lauren J. Hoskins of Somerville, have pleaded not guilty to charges related to getting the drugs to Bernhardt.

A trial for those five defendants is scheduled for July 25.

In Reap's case, prosecutors will recommend he receive a lighter sentence for taking responsibility for the crime. Prosecutors also could move to further reduce the sentence if he provides them with substantial assistance in their investigation, according to the plea agreement.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen must approve Reap's plea agreement. A hearing had not been set as of Monday afternoon.

Reap was placed on administrative leave in April and suspended without pay in May, according to Montana Department of Corrections spokeswoman Judy Beck.
 

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