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Ex-California guard accused of smuggling weapons, phones, Patrón Tequila into prison for cash

Sacramento Bee

A former California correctional officer has been indicted on allegations he accepted thousands of dollars in bribes to smuggle contraband, including weapons and cellphones, while working at Solano State Prison.

Edwin Fernand, a resident of Rancho Cordova, faces charges of conspiracy to smuggle weapons and other contraband into the Vacaville penal institution, attempting to bring a deadly weapon into a penal institution and receiving bribes, according to the indictment filed April 26 in Sacramento Superior Court.

A criminal grand jury returned with the indictment of four felony charges against Fernand. The California Attorney General’s Office announced his arrest Tuesday in a news release.

“Regardless of occupation or position, our office is committed to holding those who break the law accountable,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in the news release. “No one is above the law.”

Authorities arrested Fernand and booked him at the Sacramento County Main Jail; he has since been released from custody. Fernand appeared for his arraignment Monday afternoon, court records show. He is scheduled to return to court for another hearing June 20.

State prosecutors said Fernand worked as a correctional officer at Solano State Prison for nearly 19 months and prosecutors allege he committed the crimes from Feb. 27, 2020, through Sept. 14, 2021.

Fernand earned a base salary of $84,847 in 2021 and had total pay and benefits that year of just over $142,437, according to compensation records provided by the state to Transparent California.

Fernand’s arrest was the second time in a week authorities announced criminal charges against a California correctional officer accused of smuggling contraband into a prison. Last week, state prison officials arrested a correctional officer reportedly found in possession of fentanyl and other narcotics inside Pleasant Valley State Prison in Fresno County.

The case against Fernand was investigated by the FBI and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation strongly condemns any peace officer who violates their oath and shatters the public’s trust,” CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber in the news release about Fernand’s arrest. “Let this serve as a reminder that we will seek accountability from those who refuse to follow the law.”

Fernand is accused of communicating with a prison inmate to coordinate the smuggling, prosecutors detailed in the indictment.

The inmate sent text messages to an out-of-custody co-conspirator; the message had a website for an online retailer that had photos of plastic stabbing weapons, according to the indictment.

The out-of-custody co-conspirator allegedly shipped the weapons Fernand with the expectation the correctional officer would bring the weapons to the inmate at prison in Solano County. The out-of-custody co-conspirator then paid Fernand money, according to the indictment.

State prosecutors said the correctional officer accepted thousands of dollars in cash payments in exchange for smuggling a wide range of contraband into the prison, including cellphones, tobacco, alcohol and deadly weapons. The indictment alleges Fernand smuggled bottles of Patrón Tequila, among other alcohol, into the prison.

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