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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Biden’s DOJ Should Consider RICO Charges Against Corrupt FCI Talladega Officials

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

An Expression of Personal Opinions

By: Donald Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on January 24, 2021

On November 7, 2020, I published an article about a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) “whistleblower” complaint that detailed widespread public corruption at the Talladega federal prison. On December 27, 2020, I published an exclusive, investigative report on a contraband trafficking ring that operated from the Warden’s office and Special Investigative Services (SIS) Unit at the prison. Cheron Y. Nash was the prison’s warden at the time.

The participants in the contraband trafficking ring included prison executives, SIS officers, correctional officers, and trusted inmates. The items of contraband included cellular phone devices, tobacco, marijuana, and illegal drugs that were sold to inmate customers.

The contraband trafficking ring operated as an ongoing criminal enterprise. It was in full swing when I arrived at FCI Talladega on August 28, 2019 and still ongoing when I left the prison on November 23, 2020

FCI Talladega’s Racketeering Enterprise

The FCI Talladega criminal enterprise participants committed a litany of overt criminal acts in furtherance of the goals and objectives of the RICO conspiracy including: (a) possession of contraband items with the intent to distribute them for profit within the inmate population, (b) distribution of contraband items for profit within the inmate population, (c) money laundering, (d) income tax evasion, e) obstruction of justice, (f) witness tampering, (g) retaliation against a DOJ OIG “whistleblower”, (h) "planting" evidence to support a bogus disciplinary charge against a DOJ OIG "whistleblower", (i) rigging the outcome of a disciplinary hearing involving the bogus charge against the DOJ OIG “whistleblower”, and (j) utilizing personal and professional relationships within the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to place the DOJ OIG “whistleblower” in harm’s way for serious bodily injury and/or death.

The racketeering enterprise enriched its participants, preserved and promoted their power and dominion over inmates, and instilled fear in potential witnesses and future “whistleblowers”. It was successful because Talladega prison officials elicited the aid of BOP officials in Texas, Georgia, and Washington, D.C to assist them in “fixing” a disciplinary hearing case that served as a pretext for retaliating against a targeted DOJ OIG “whistleblower”. They used “management variable" requests and ex parte communications with cooperating BOP officials to further the goals of their criminal enterprise. They also gave favorable and preferential treatment to inmates who participated in a contraband trafficking scheme and/or helped prison officials conceal the racketeering activities.

An inmate DOJ OIC “whistleblower” was labeled a “POW” and declared by the RICO participants to be a “dead man walking”. This intimidation and retaliation had a “chilling effect” on other “whistleblowers”/potential cooperating law enforcement witnesses coming forward.

Trump’s DOJ Exhibited Disdain for OIG Complaints

Former president Donald J. Trump’s DOJ exhibited considerable disdain for OIG “whistleblower” complaints. Trump, himself, openly castigated and retaliated against “whistleblowers”. No Trump DOJ official interviewed me about the public corruption and racketeering enterprise at FCI Talladega. The same is true with respect to Trump's BOP officials.

Furthermore, on May 11, 2020, I emailed a separate “whistleblower” complaint to a DOJ OIG “Hotline” established for COVID-19 reports. The next day, I was taken to the maximum security Special Housing Unit (SHU) or the “Hole” on a bogus cellphone charger possession infraction that resulted from an officer “planting” a contraband charger in my locker. The “Hotline” was shut down shortly thereafter.

Trump’s local U.S. Attorney’s office was too compromised to conduct a criminal investigation into this matter for two reasons. First, the office interacted with one of the principal RICO participants in 2019 and inadvertently acted in a way that actually furthered the racketeering enterprise, rather than shutting it down. Second, the office’s “de facto” U.S. Attorney in 2019 and 2020 was Lloyd Peeples, a new-wave COINTELPRO prosecutor who targeted social justice activists who were unpopular in the Northern District’s white communities, as opposed to targeting crimes.

Moving Forward

Moving forward, I intend to make my evidence of public corruption and criminal RICO activities available to the staffs of the U.S. House and Senate Judicial Committees in the new session of Congress. They can refer this body of evidence to the DOJ once President Biden’s designated Attorney General and U.S. Attorneys are confirmed.

I have focused on the Congressional Oversight committees because there are operational problems within the BOP with much larger ramifications than the public corruption and racketeering at FCI Talladega. These problems involve the BOP’s national contracts for the procurement of goods and commodities for its 122 federal correctional institutions.

The BOP spends more than $39,000 per year to incarcerate each prisoner. It spends billions of tax dollars each year just to supply federal inmates with personal hygiene items, clothing, medicines, sheets & blankets, shoes, towels & face clothes, pens, pencils, & paper, products on its published commissary lists, and other commodities for inmates. The vast majority of these items are manufactured in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Ghana, Moldova, Tunisia, Canada, and other foreign countries. In reality, the BOP is helping foreign manufacturers complete with U.S. manufacturers that produce the same products for comparable prices. This form of U.S.-subsidized foreign trade is adversely impacting American manufacturers while allowing a few U.S. “distributors” or “middlemen”, who never touch the products sold, to reap unconscionable profits at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers.

The political rhetoric in Washington is “America First”, but the BOP’s spending on these foreign-made goods and commodities for 122 federal correctional facilities constitutes market development for foreign businesses that are in direct competition with U.S. manufacturers for the same goods and commodities.

I believe that foreign aid to other countries should be channeled through the U.S. Department of State, not the BOP. The two Congressional Judicial Committees, which oversee the DOJ and BOP, need to probe the BOP’s insatiable desire to enrich a a handful of U.S. "distributors". These distributors enjoy exclusive national concession contracts that flood BOP facilities nationwide with poor quality, high-priced, foreign-made products from countries that undermine America’s economic growth and stability. To me, this Congressional probe is way more important than rounding up and prosecuting a bunch of RICO participants in Talladega, Atlanta, Grand Praire, and Washington, D.C.

Both matters deserve the special attention of the appropriate federal bodies and agencies. Both may eventually morph into criminal prosecutions. At the end of the day, however, the American taxpayer’s interest in these matters must trump everyone else’s political agenda.

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