Federal Prison Guard Pleads Guilty to Distributing Narcotics, Sexually Abusing Inmates

A Bureau of Prisons correctional officer has pleaded guilty to smuggling narcotics into a federal prison and selling them to inmates, according the Justice Department, as well as sexually abusing inmates by forcing them to perform oral sex on him.

Armando Moronta pleaded guilty to smuggling cell phones and narcotics into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, on 12 separate occasions. He took bribes of between $1,000 and $3,000 from male inmates who would then sell the materials, according to court documents. Inmates in the facility would arrange for their contacts to secure narcotics and deliver them to Moronta’s girlfriend. She would then give the contraband to Moronta, who would bring it into the prison so two inmates could distribute it to others.

Moronta admitted to fondling a female inmate, causing multiple inmates to “perform oral sex on him while he was assigned to guard their unit” and other criminal sexual acts.  

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The former Bureau of Prisons employee, who was suspended since his initial arrest earlier this year, faces up to 20 years in prison, has forfeited $15,000 in bribe payments and is requried to register as a sex offender.

“In a fundamental breach of his duties as a public servant, former federal correctional officer Moronta compromised the safety of the MDC by allowing inmates to have prohibited goods and abusing inmates sexually,” acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Bridget Rohde said. “This case serves as a reminder that correctional officers who would so compromise the well-being of their colleagues and charges will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Justice’s inspector general helped investigate the case after receiving information from a confidential informant who was an inmate at the detention center.

“Corruption and abuse of power have no place in our federal correctional system and will not be tolerated,” stated Justice Department OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Ronald Gardella. “Moronta’s conduct shattered the safety of his victims and imperiled the security of the MDC. The OIG will continue to work closely with the BOP and our law enforcement partners to ensure that individuals who abuse the public’s trust in this manner are brought to justice.”

The FBI was also involved in the case, and William Sweeney Jr., the assistant director-in-charge at the New York field office, said Moronta’s case will serve as an example “to anyone who dares threaten the integrity of the law enforcement profession.”

“Just because you’re awarded a badge of honor, it doesn’t mean you can hide behind the shield,” Sweeney said.

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