The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 24, 2013

Guard accused of supplying contraband

SOMERSET — A state prison guard has been charged with supplying drugs, pornographic materials and other contraband to inmates at SCI-Somerset.

Donald M. Lynch, 35, of Fort Loudon, Franklin County, faces three counts of supplying contraband and one count of using a cellphone for criminal activity.

All four  charges are felonies.

State Corrections Department agents said Lynch encouraged prisoners to contact friends and family to ask them to purchase drugs and other  banned items, and then contact Lynch.

Lynch would make arrangements to pick up the items and bring them to inmates named Michael Farrell and Thomas Thompson, who passed them to other prisoners, according to the criminal complaint.

Family members paid Lynch with prepaid debit cards or by making deposits in a PayPal account he established under a false name, investigators said.

Authorities were alerted when Lynch’s wife accidentally intercepted one of the deliveries and became suspicious. Court papers say Lynch told her he was “working for the security department.” The package containing small bottles of oil, a prepaid card and a number of tennis balls and plastic golf balls was part of an investigation, he allegedly told his wife.

Contraband items being smuggled included “Muslim oils,” the agents reported.

Investigators searched Lynch’s car and found numerous notes addressed to “Boss Man” that appeared to relate to the smuggling operation. An examination of a disposable cellphone also yielded suspicious text messages and calls to inmates’ known contacts and family, the court papers say.

Several inmates and family members admitted taking part in the smuggling, authorities said.

Lynch was arraigned Tuesday in the Somerset courtroom of District Judge Kenneth Johnson. He was released on $40,000 unsecured bond.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for noon on May 7 in Johnson’s court.

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