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August 12-- A correctional officer at a federal prison has been charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting bribes in return for smuggling cigarettes to an inmate.

Michael Kerr, 30, of Vidalia is charged with 12 counts of Bribery, one count of Providing Contraband into a Prison, and one count of making a false statement to law enforcement, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The charges carry possible punishment of up to 15 years in prison.

The indictment alleges that on 12 occasions Kerr, a correctional officer at McRae Correctional Facility, a private prison operated under a federal contract in Telfair County, accepted payments ranging from $400 to $640 in return for smuggling cigarettes to the inmate. The indictment alleges Kerr then lied when confronted about the allegations by claiming the payoff occurred only once, for $100. The forfeiture allegation included in the indictment contends Kerr accepted bribes totaling of $5,790. 

“The corrections officers in our federal prison system perform outstanding work under difficult conditions,” said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “Any guard who violates their oath makes the job for all the others more difficult, and as a consequence merits prosecution.” 

“Introducing contraband undermines the integrity of federal prisons and creates a danger for correctional officers, prison staff, and inmates,” said Special Agent in Charge James F. Boyersmith, Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Miami Field Office. “Bribery and smuggling contraband into federal prisons will not be tolerated, and our agents will continue to root out these schemes. I’d like to thank U.S. Attorney Christine for his partnership in this effort.”

An indictment contains only charges. Defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcela C. Mateo.