Inmate charged with smuggling drugs into Dukes County Jail

Benjamin Fogg during his arraignment Monday. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Benjamin Fogg, 29, faces fresh charges of smuggling illegal prescription narcotics into the Dukes County Jail, following his arrest on drug charges and release on bail September 24.

Mr. Fogg was arraigned on a charge of possession with intent to distribute narcotics in Edgartown District Court on September 27. He was free on $600 bail at the time, but was held without bail after his arraignment and taken to the jail to await his next court date. Mr. Fogg has a record of drug offenses and has several open drug cases in district court. He also faces an assault charge in a previous case.

Jail officers developed information that Mr. Fogg was distributing the prescription narcotic Suboxone to other inmates. Suboxone is a powerful narcotic prescribed to help addicts reduce their dependence on opiates such as heroin.

According to the Sheriff’s Department report, jail officers strip-searched Mr. Fogg on October 2, shortly after he returned to the general jail population from an initial isolation period, but found no drugs. A few minutes later, according to the report, Mr. Fogg told jail officers he had Suboxone pills hidden in a sock in a drawer under the bed next to his. A subsequent search of the drawer yielded 1-1/4 orange pills, later identified as Suboxone, inside a pair of socks.

During an internal investigation by Major Donald Rose, Mr. Fogg admitted to smuggling six to eight Suboxone pills into the jail. According to the report, he said he was willing to give his statement and answer questions. “Yes, I don’t care, I was wrong,” Mr. Fogg told jail investigators.

“Mr. Fogg stated that he brought between 6-8 Suboxone into the facility when he was brought in on Thursday, September 27, 2012. Mr. Fogg stated that he would be withdrawing from the meds, so he originally brought them in for his own use, but when transferred to the general population on Sunday, September 30, 2012, he gave many other inmates some of the Suboxone. When asked as to how he smuggled the drugs into the facility, Mr. Fogg stated ‘in my rectum.'”

Mr. Fogg told investigaters the names of seven other inmates to whom he gave one half or one quarter of a pill. He said two other inmates got drugs from inmates he had originally given pills.

Sheriff Michael McCormark speculated that Mr. Fogg was in possession of the drugs while he was in the courthouse for arraignment. He was taken into custody following his arraignment, handcuffed hand and foot, according to standard operating procedure.

“He knew he was going to be here, so he brought some Suboxone with him,” Mr. McCormack said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Mr. McCormack said drug tests revealed several inmates had drugs in their systems, but a positive drug test is not a legal basis to charge an inmate with possession. He said all of the inmates named will face internal discipline in the jail. Under normal procedure inmates who test positive for drugs are subject to disciplinary lockup, according Mr. McCormack. They are also referred to the classification board, a panel of sheriff’s department officials that decides what privileges the inmates are given and whether they should be confined under minimum, medium, or maximum security regulations.

He said when Mr. Fogg returned to the jail, he was processed in the same way as every other inmate. Mr. McCormack said no drugs were discovered during a strip search. Mr. Fogg was put into segregation for 48 hours.

Mr. McCormack said jail personnel do not routinely perform cavity searches of people coming into the facility.

“We would need to properly transport somebody to the hospital,” Mr. McCormack said. “Cavity searches are an extreme search that really needs to be handled by a medical professional. The cost would be more. That’s a concern and a consideration.”

After a previous incident in 2011, in which the same drug was smuggled into the jail, Mr. McCormack said he introduced new measures to prevent the smuggling of drugs. Those including strip searches, increased random drug screens. More recently, he has incorporated random searches by the Island’s K-9 unit, Edgartown police officer Jeff Trudel and Buster, a dog trained to detect narcotics.

“Our staff developed some random search procedures,” Mr. McCormack said. “Officer Trudel can knock on the door unannounced, even to our staff. The staff has been informed they can call him at random times.”

Sheriff McCormack said the new procedures are helping to detect inmates who are abusing drugs inside the facility.

“At this point we’re doing everything we can,” Mr. McCormack said. “Anyone coming from court gets strip-searched. We’ve increased the frequency of random drug testing, and we’ve formed a partnership with Edgartown police with the drug dog. People using drugs inside the facility are being found.”