Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Wednesday, September 29, 1999

DOCS investigators played key role in breaking narcotics trafficking case

The Department of Correctional Services' six-month comprehensive investigation of illegal inmate activity became a pivotal tool in today's announcement by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District that 27 people have been charged with narcotics trafficking violations, Commissioner Glenn S. Goord said today.

"It is another example of Governor George Pataki's assault on crime," Mr. Goord said, "to have state agencies coordinate their efforts with federal, state and local law enforcement officials in our joint battle against those who traffic in illegal drugs. The work of the DOCS Inspector General demonstrates that effort."

Officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney's Office approached the Department's Inspector General's Office in March, seeking assistance in an ongoing investigation of drug trafficking and other criminal enterprise activities in Poughkeepsie. Over the next six months, investigators from the DOCS IG worked in excess of 400 hours on the case; taped and reviewed over 100 hours of inmate telephone calls from the Greene and Coxsackie correctional facilities to alleged street dealers and others in the Poughkeepsie area; utilized various informants to glean vital information from the inmate alleged to have presided over the narcotics trafficking ring; arranged for various drug buys in Poughkeepsie; purchased illegal drugs from several of those individuals now facing federal and state drug charges, and assisted in the actual arrests of several of those defendants.

During the initial stages of their investigation, DOCS investigators ascertained that an inmate at the Greene Correctional Facility, Lamar Johnson, was allegedly presiding over the narcotics trafficking ring from the medium-security prison in Greene County. The inmate's collect calls from the facility were subsequently monitored and taped. Through this process, investigators alleged that Johnson, who is from Poughkeepsie, would call various individuals in Poughkeepsie to discuss and coordinate the dates, times and locations of scheduled drug buys in the city; there also were discussions between Johnson and others on other alleged criminal activities in Poughkeepsie. The DOCS-generated tapes of these calls led to Johnson's arrest and the subsequent arrests of several of the other individuals now facing drug charges.

"We will not tolerate any inmate engaging in any criminal activity at any time," said Mr. Goord. "Those inmates who chose to break the law while they are in our custody can be assured that we will do everything in our power within the law to ensure that they are convicted of criminal charges and spend additional time in prison. They should be forewarned that we will continue to make available to police agencies across the state the demonstrated expertise and professionalism of our Inspector General's Office."

Johnson, 21, is serving a 6-12 year sentence for a 1997 first-degree burglary conviction out of Dutchess County. He was received into the state prison system on January 14, 1998, and was housed at Greene from February 9, 1998, to August 8 of this year; at that time, he was transferred to Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County. Johnson is not eligible for parole until September 13, 2003. He has a conditional release date of September 13, 2005, and his maximum term expires September 13, 2009.