A former senior correctional police officer in Cumberland County got seven years in prison Friday after being convicted of smuggling oxycodone, marijuana and tobacco to inmates in exchange for money, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Steven B. Saunders, 51, of Camden, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Gerard H. Breland in Burlington County. Saunders will be ineligible for parole for five years, Grewal said.
Saunders was found guilty July 18 of conspiracy, official misconduct, bribery in official matters, and acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior, as well as possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana, Grewal said.
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He had been suspended from his position as a senior correctional police officer at Southern State Correctional Facility in Maurice River Township since his arrest in November 2017, Grewal said.
From March 2016 through November 2017, Saunders conspired with an inmate, Lakovian Shepherd, and the inmate’s girlfriend, Tasha N. Swain, to smuggle drugs and tobacco to inmates at Southern State, Grewal said.
In return, Saunders received bribes in the form of payments made by friends or relatives of the inmates outside the prison, Grewal said. Inmates arranged through their associates on the outside for funds to be transferred to Swain via Western Union, he said.
Swain, under the direction of Saunders and Shepherd, used the funds to pay Saunders and purchase pills, marijuana and tobacco, which she delivered to Saunders to smuggle into the prison. Grewal said.
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Saunders charged up to $75 for a pack of loose tobacco and up to $1,000 for an ounce of marijuana, Grewal said.
Saunders was arrested Nov. 20, 2017, after he met Swain in Evesham, Burlington County, where she gave him 25 grams of marijuana and 17 oxycodone pills to smuggle into prison, along with $1,000 cash, Grewal said.
State Police stopped Saunders’ vehicle and arrested him with the drugs and cash, Grewal said.
Shepherd, 44, pleaded guilty Feb. 22 to distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, Grewal said. He was sentenced Aug. 12 to three years in prison, including six months of parole ineligibility, consecutive to his current 10-year sentence for distribution of narcotics, Grewal said.
Swain, 40, of Toms River, pleaded guilty May 9, 2018, to distribution of marijuana. She was sentenced to probation this past July 24, Grewal said.