Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced former Prince George’s County Department of Corrections correctional officer Danielle Dominique Smith, age 34, of Waldorf, Maryland, to four months imprisonment, followed by four months of home detention as part of three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, in connection with her smuggling drugs to a prisoner with whom she had an intimate relationship.
The sentence was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Division; Director Corenne D. Labbe of the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections; and Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to her guilty plea, from November 23, 2009, through April 15, 2022, Smith was employed as a correctional officer at the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections (“PGDOC”) detention facility. During her employment, Smith developed a romantic and sexual relationship with Avante Daquan Lee, an inmate at PGDOC, discussing their relationship on recorded jail calls beginning on at least June 3, 2021, and continuing until March 2, 2022.
As detailed in the plea agreement, from August 29, 2021, and March 2, 2022, Smith conspired with Lee and other co-conspirators to distribute Suboxone and the synthetic cannabinoid commonly known as K2. Specifically, Smith obtained the controlled substances from co-conspirators outside PGDOC, then smuggled the drugs into PGDOC, where she concealed them on special diet food trays designated for Lee. Once Lee received the food tray, he distributed the controlled substances to other inmates within PGDOC. Other inmates, or relatives and friends of inmates, then sent Smith money for the controlled substances.
Smith and Lee discussed the distribution of the controlled substances on recorded jail calls, referring to the controlled substances as food products in an effort to conceal the nature of the conversation. On September 24, 2021, the PGDOC Special Investigations and Intelligence Section conducted a targeted cell search of Lee’s cell for contraband and recovered white paper that was found to contain K2. On February 16, 2022, the PGDOC Special Investigations and Intelligence Section conducted a targeted cell search of another PGDOC inmate for suspected contraband and found a bottle containing 395 strips that were found to contain Suboxone. The K2 and Suboxone were smuggled into PGDOC by Smith.
According to court documents, at the end of February 2022, Smith took pre-approved leave from work. Smith continued to speak to Lee on jail calls during that time. On a March 2, 2022, jail call, the day Smith was scheduled to return to work, Lee asked Smith if she was bringing the “meals,” and Smith said she was. Concerned that Smith was going to smuggle additional controlled substances, PGDOC administratively suspended Smith when she arrived at work that same day.
A crooked jail guard gets to enjoy the holidays before surrendering at a Federal prison in West Virginia.
On October 13, 2023, Judge Chuang sentenced Avante Daquan Lee, age 30, to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Lee had previously pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy.
U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the DEA, the PGDOC, and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron also thanked Assistant United States Attorney Leah B. Grossi, who prosecuted the case.
Avante Daquan Lee of Suitland was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to Lee’s guilty plea, on March 15, 2020, a Prince George’s County police officer saw Lee in a Temple Hills parking lot trying to restart a dirt bike that did not have a license plate. The police officer pulled his vehicle in front of Lee, who then dropped the dirt bike and ran into a wooded area.
The officer gave Lee several commands to stop. During the chase, Lee threw a semi-automatic pistol into the underbrush near a chain-link fence. Lee stopped running when he reached the chain-link fence and began to reach into his waistband.