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Former inmate gets 3 years for plot to smuggle pot into Cook County Jail

Sun-Times file photo

Sun-Times file photo

A former Cook County Jail inmate was sentenced to three years in federal prison for his role in a scheme to smuggle pot hidden in sandwiches into the jail.

Lavangelist Powell was sentenced to 36 months in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday, according to FBI spokesman Garrett Croon. Powell had pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2016, to a count of conspiracy to commit extortion.

Powell, 26, is currently incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, according to BOP records.

In June 2013, Powell and two other inmates, Prince Johnson and Thadieus Goods, conspired with Johnson’s girlfriend, 43-year-old Stephanie Lewis, a Chicago Police dispatcher, to bribe a corrections officer to bring marijuana, cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol, food and other contraband into the jail for inmates, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Lewis admitted using her position as a dispatch supervisor in the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications to access police databases to find personal information for a correctional officer at the jail, 32-year-old Jason Marek, according to prosecutors.

The information was passed along to Johnson and an inmate being held at the jail, who used it to threaten Marek with physical harm unless he continued to help smuggle contraband into the facility, prosecutors said.

The scheme came to light after nearly three ounces of marijuana was found hidden inside two sandwiches that Marek tried to smuggle into the jail in 2013 in exchange for a $200 bribe, prosecutors said. An ounce of marijuana, which sells for about $200 outside the jail, could be sold for up to five times as much inside the jail.

Lewis was sentenced last year to 41 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, prosecutors said. Johnson pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to 36 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

Marek pleaded guilty to delivering contraband to an inmate and is awaiting sentencing.