3.20.2010

TS - Guard arrested for allegedly bringing drugs into jail

Guard arrested for allegedly bringing drugs into jail
A correctional officer from the Humboldt County jail was arrested while on duty after a month-long investigation into reports that a guard was possibly smuggling contraband into the facility, officials said Monday.

Officer Benjamen Jentry-Rakestraw, 20, of Fortuna, was stopped at 9:30 p.m. Friday as he allegedly attempted to bring 4.3 grams of heroin and small amounts of tobacco and marijuana into the Humboldt County jail, according to a press release.

The investigation began about one month ago when sheriff's investigators and correctional staff received information that there was an officer possibly bringing contraband into the jail.

Jentry-Rakestraw has been with the department since September 2007, said Humboldt County Sheriff Gary Philp, adding much of department is surprised by the arrest.

”Pretty much across the board everyone is feeling shocked and kind of betrayed,” Philp said.

Background checks and training are extensive for correctional officers and so it is “especially surprising” when a trusted officer is arrested, Philp said.

Jentry-Rakestraw is young for his position but it's not atypical for a 20-year-old to be a correctional officer, Philp said.
”But most of our officers are older,” he added.

In a press release, Philp stated, “The type of incident is a complete anomaly for us and is frankly a gross violation of trust to us as well as the public we serve and will never be tolerated.”

Three search warrants were served and surveillance was used during the investigation, according to the release. More arrests are expected but no other officers are suspects.

Jentry-Rakestraw was booked on suspicion of bringing a narcotic controlled substance into a correctional facility, bringing contraband into a correctional facility and possession of a narcotic controlled substance, all of which are felonies, according to the release. He was also booked on suspicion of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Although the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office may later add charges to the case, Philp said his office will not suggest any more charges.

His bail was set at $20,000 and he is expected to be arraigned by Wednesday.
Contact Allison White at 441-0506 or awhite@times-standard.com.