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Guard arrested in prison drug probe.

Byline: Lee Hammel

WORCESTER - A correction officer at the Worcester County House of Correction has been arrested and charged with conspiring to smuggle drugs to an inmate at the jail.

Matthew F. Mahoney, 24, of 134 Commonwealth Ave. was charged yesterday in U.S. District Court with conspiracy and possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute. Mr. Mahoney, who was arrested Wednesday in Westboro, was released yesterday on conditions after a July 12 probable cause hearing was set.

An undercover operation was set in motion after Special Agent Todd F. Prough got a tip from a confidential informant through another law enforcement officer. The information was that Mr. Mahoney and Daniel Brunell, an inmate, were discussing smuggling oxycodone into the jail to be distributed to inmates.

Agent Prough gave this account in an affidavit: Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Brunell needed a new drug supplier because their drug source was no longer available. Acting undercover and wearing a recording device, Agent Prough met Mr. Mahoney June 6 at a Framingham restaurant.

Agent Prough and the correction officer discussed plans for Agent Prough to supply Mr. Mahoney with 100 oxycodone pills, 80 of which he would smuggle to "Danny" while keeping 20 pills for himself. The correction officer said that Mr. Brunell "had 100 sold already."

Mr. Mahoney planned to hide the pills in his uniform pants pockets to smuggle them inside the jail. He also said that he had smuggled an ounce of marijuana into the jail previously.

Mr. Mahoney said that he was fearful of losing his job and doing more time than the drug supplier would. Mr. Mahoney said Mr. Brunell offered to advance a personal check for $500 as a down payment. The undercover agent said he expected to be paid $50 per pill.

On Wednesday, the two met again with Agent Prough wearing a wire, this time in Westboro with other agents observing. The correction officer said he had delayed calling Agent Prough to make sure "the inmate" had worked out a way to pay for the drugs.

Mr. Mahoney agreed the price would be $50 per pill. Because money cannot change hands at the jail, Mr. Mahoney said the inmate, whom Agent Prough believes to be Mr. Brunell, agreed to send money to the agent's post office box to pay for the pills.

Agent Prough handed Mr. Mahoney a plastic bag with 100 oxycodone pills and the correction officer allegedly said, "These are the good ones." When the agent asked Mr. Mahoney whether he would use or sell his share of the pills, Mr. Mahoney said he probably would sell some pills to make some money.

The correction officer was placed under arrest. Afterward, he "stated that he knew he was transporting drugs into the prison and had done it on at least one other occasion," according to the affidavit.

Mr. Brunell has not been charged in the federal case. Mr. Brunell previously was charged with robbing a shoe store on Grafton Street Feb. 12 and was charged the following day with punching another prisoner inside a police wagon while they were on their way to court.

Mr. Mahoney was investigated by the DEA's tactical diversion squad in Worcester, the Worcester County sheriff's special services investigative unit, the district attorney's office, state police and the Westboro police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David H. Hennessy.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 22, 2007
Words:564
Previous Article:37 arrested in sweep of lower Pleasant St. Three-month investigation of drug-related activities.
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