Former Prison Guard Pleads Guilty in Smuggling Ring

Joseph J. JenningsJoseph J. Jennings (Submitted Image)

DOYLESTOWN, PA — A former guard at the Bucks County Correctional Facility pleaded guilty on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, for his role in a drug-smuggling ring inside the jail and was sentenced to two to four years in state prison.

Joseph J. Jennings, 33, of Warminster, entered guilty pleas to contraband and criminal conspiracy and was sentenced by Bucks County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey L. Finley to state prison.

An investigation by the Bucks County Detectives Drug Strike Force and Bucks County Correctional Facility Investigators found that Jennings smuggled Suboxone into the jail on multiple occasions between October 2018 and July 2019 while employed as a guard assigned to the restrictive housing unit at the Doylestown Township facility.

According to investigators, Jennings provided the drugs to inmate Vincent McCandless Sr., 36, who then distributed the drugs to other inmates in the jail. Jennings got the Suboxone from Joseph Robert Wilson, 41, of Philadelphia, and McCandless’s juvenile son.

Inmates who purchased the drugs paid through various methods, often soliciting family members to wire money to Wilson, or deposit funds into McCandless’s prison commissary account.

READ:  Optinose to Present at the Piper Sandler Virtual Healthcare Conference

Jennings was among nine men charged in June 2020 with the scheme to smuggle Suboxone strips into the jail to distribute among inmates.

“This drug organization would not have been discovered but for the diligent Investigators at the prison,” Deputy District Attorney Mary Kate Kohler said. “They worked tirelessly alongside Bucks County Detectives to uncover its enormous scope and the root of the problem – a dirty guard. Law Enforcement in this County will not tolerate a ‘bad apple’ amongst their ranks.

“There are so many respectable members of law enforcement in this County, including officers at the jail and Joseph Jennings was a stain on all of their names,” she said. “We are pleased that he has been removed from a position of trust and will serve time in a State Correctional Facility which is where his actions and criminal choices landed him. We hope that this will deter any others who may have thoughts of betraying the trust of the people of Bucks County, but if not, they too will be rooted out.”

READ:  Customers Bancorp, Inc. Declares Quarterly Cash Dividend

McCandless Sr. pleaded guilty in April to contraband and criminal conspiracy and was sentenced to 35 to 70 months in state prison to be served after he completes the sentence that landed him in prison. McCandless was serving 4 ½ years to 10 years in state prison at the time of his arrest.

Wilson pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing in December. McCandless’s juvenile son was adjudicated delinquent earlier this year.

Others who have entered guilty pleas are:

  • Travis Davies, 33 of Levittown: pleaded guilty in March to contraband and conspiracy and was sentenced to one to two years in prison.
  • Joseph Korhan, 48, of Woodstown, N.J.: pleaded guilty in June to contraband and conspiracy and was sentenced to two to four years in state prison.
  • Robert Monacelli, 29, of Falls Township: pleaded guilty in June to contraband and conspiracy and was sentenced to two to four years in state prison.
  • Richard Dzielinski, 42, of Philadelphia; pleaded guilty on Nov. 19, 2019, to contraband and conspiracy and his sentencing was deferred to a later date.
READ:  Aegis Software Announces Latest Updates to their FactoryLogix IIoT-Based MES Platform

A ninth person, Jonathan King, 32, of Wilkes Barre, is awaiting his day in court.

This case was investigated by the Bucks County Detectives Drug Strike Force and Bucks County Correctional Facility Investigators. Agents of the Pennsylvania Parole Board, as well as the Philadelphia Police Department’s Intensive Drug Investigation Squad and PPD 26th District Violence Reduction Unit assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Mary Kate Kohler.

Thanks for visiting! MyChesCo brings reliable information and resources to Chester County, Pennsylvania. Please consider supporting us in our efforts. Your generous donation will help us continue this work and keep it free of charge. Show your support today by clicking here and becoming a patron.