A former guard at the federal prison in Forrest City was sentenced Thursday to a year and a day as a federal inmate for accepting more than $40,000 in bribes to help inmates smuggle tobacco and cellphones into the prison.
Josue Duane Garza, 42, of Wynne pleaded guilty Aug. 23 to a charge of bribery of a public official. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker.
According to U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland, an inmate informed prison officials in June 2018 that his family had been purchasing tobacco and cellphones and mailing them, along with cash, to Garza at a post office box. The inmate said another inmate had started the scheme but had since been transferred to another facility, leaving the family of the reporting inmate to take over the scheme.
Garza then admitted in an interview with authorities that he had carried out the scheme from October 2017 through July 2018, according to Hiland.
"Smuggling illicit cell phones into prison allows convicted felons to continue their criminal activity, even from inside the prison walls," Hiland said. "Today's sentence demonstrates that those who seek to profit from these underhanded dealings will soon find themselves among the inmates they formerly enabled."