Former correctional officer enters guilty plea to smuggling charge

Former correctional officer enters guilty plea to smuggling charge

A Humboldt County correctional facility officer who was caught trying to smuggle heroin into the jail in July entered a guilty plea to a charge of smuggling contraband into jail in Superior Court on Monday.

The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office said Benjamen Edward Jentry-Rakestraw, 20, of Fortuna, had two charges -- possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit a crime -- dropped after he entered the guilty plea.

Deputy District Attorney Max Cardoza said Jentry-Rakestraw faces up to four years in prison when he's sentenced, which is scheduled for Dec. 21.

Cardoza said that Jentry-Rakestraw could also get probation, which is what the Probation Department recommended to the court.

”We are hopeful that the court accepts the recommendations of probation,” said Jentry-Rakestraw's attorney Michael Robinson.

Robinson mentioned that his client may still see some jail time even if the court follows the department's recommendation.

”It can be zero days to 365 days,” Robinson said. “It's up to the judge to make that decision.

Jentry-Rakestraw was taken into custody while he was on duty in early July. According to court documents, Jentry-Rakestraw was arrested after he was searched while returning to the jail from a break in the parking lot, where he picked up a bag that was dropped into his pickup truck.

The bag reportedly contained 4.3 grams of heroin and small amounts of tobacco and marijuana.

A tip about a month before the arrest led to the investigation of Jentry-Rakestraw.

”It's my opinion that he was played and conned and used,” Robinson said, indicating inmates took advantage of his client. “He threw his career away by being manipulated by fairly sophisticated cons.”

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Brenda Godsey said that stopping drugs from entering the building is a priority and definitely not a unique problem for the local jail.

”It's an ongoing struggle for any correctional facility,” Godsey said. “People are always coming up with new ways to try and bring it (illegal drugs) in.”

One of the most common ways, according to Godsey, is through the mail.

And the most common substance discovered may not be your first guess.

”Tobacco is what we see most of,” Godsey said.

Chris Durant/The Times-Standard
Posted: 12/02/2009 01:15:19 AM PST