3 Pa. Guards, 2 Inmates Charged with Smuggling Marijuana
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Three guards and two inmates at the Luzerne County prison, the scene of a daring double escape last week, were charged Thursday in a drug smuggling probe.
The five suspects were arraigned at the prison Thursday morning, said Carol Crane, a spokeswoman for District Attorney David Lupas.
The undercover police sting had been under way for several months and did not stem from the three-day manhunt for murder suspect Hugo Selenski, officials said. Selenski and his cellmate escaped the prison's seventh-floor maximum security unit Friday by breaking out a window and climbing down about 60 feet of knotted sheets to a rooftop below. He later turned himself in.
"It's been a long time in the making," said Crane, who could not recall other drug arrests involving the prison, about 100 miles north of Philadelphia, in recent years.
Correctional officers Shawn P. Cunningham, 34, of Swoyersville, Peter J. Achey, 45, of Wilkes-Barre, and George E. Mason, 38, of Mountain Top, were charged with bribery, delivery of a contraband, marijuana possession and related charges.
They allegedly took payments of $50 to $200 from a confidential state police informant to deliver marijuana to inmates at the prison in Wilkes-Barre last month. Mason also asked the informant for an insurance sticker for his uninsured vehicle, according to the police affidavit.
"Now these officers face the possibility of being behind bars themselves," Lupas said in a statement. Each was being held on $100,000 bail, with preliminary hearings scheduled for Oct. 22. It was not immediately clear if any of the men had attorneys.
Inmates Michael F. Ceccarelli, 28, and Tammi Ann English, 25, were charged with receiving marijuana at the prison, and English is charged with trying to escape from a hospital gurney.
Police say Achey twice brought Ceccarelli packages containing marijuana and tobacco.
English allegedly obtained a packet of tobacco, containing a small amount of marijuana, from her boyfriend and hid it, prompting a Sept. 29 hospital trip for an internal exam. English allegedly shoved a female officer guarding her as she unsuccessfully tried to flee, causing the officer minor injuries. She is charged with attempted escape as well as drug charges.
Selenski, who's now being held in a state prison, is charged with killing two alleged drug dealers whose bodies were among five found in June on his property in Kingston Township. No charges have been filed in the other three deaths.
Cellmate Scott Bolton, who broke several bones when he fell about 40 feet during the escape attempt, was in serious condition at Hershey Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said Thursday.