Kingsport Times News Friday, December 19, 2014

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Lee federal prison guard pleads guilty to taking bribes, conveying contraband

February 27th, 2014 8:42 pm by Wes Bunch

Lee federal prison guard pleads guilty to taking bribes, conveying contraband

ABINGDON — A former correctional officer at the United States Penitentiary in Lee County pleaded guilty in federal court in Abingdon Thursday to smuggling contraband into the federal prison in exchange for money.

Kimberlee Crabtree, 43, of Jonesville, entered her guilty plea after waiving her right to be indicted. Crabtree was charged with accepting a bribe as a public official. She faces a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000.

Federal prosecutors said Crabtree’s actions were detrimental to both prisoners and staff at the high-security facility.

“Ms. Crabtree accepted bribes from a federal prisoner and provided him with contraband including tobacco products and a cellular phone,” U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said. “Her actions threatened institutional security and put staff and inmates at risk.

“We will do all we can to ensure that our federal prisons are safe and secure and aggressively pursue both inmates and correctional officers who violate the rules.”

Crabtree was reportedly employed at the federal prison as a correctional officer and nurse from August until November 2013.

During that time period, prosecutors said Crabtree received multiple cash payments totaling at least $2,500 from an inmate for smuggling various tobacco products and a mobile phone into the penitentiary.

Authorities said supplying those items violated regulations laid out by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Crabtree is scheduled to be sentenced May 27 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon.

The charges against Crabtree were brought following a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Special Investigative Service at USP-Lee and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Lee is handling the prosecution.

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