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Former inmate gets 3 years for smuggling pot into Cook County Jail

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A former inmate was sentenced to three years in federal prison Tuesday for his role in a scheme to smuggle contraband into the County Jail.

Prince Johnson, 35, pleaded guilty June 9 to interference with commerce by threat or violence, according to FBI spokesman Garrett Croon. He was sentenced Tuesday to 36 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

In June 2013, Johnson and two other Cook County Jail inmates 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, prosecutors said.

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, according to prosecutors.

The information was passed along to Johnson and an inmate being held at the jail, who used it to threaten an officer 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 the officer 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 earlier this year to 41 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion.

The correctional officer, 32-year-old Jason Marek, pleaded guilty to delivering contraband to an inmate and is awaiting sentencing.