Modified: October 6, 2014 2:45pm
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III announced that 49 year-old Charles P. Hunt, Jr. of South Division St. in the City Buffalo pleaded guilty as charged to Promoting Prison Contraband in the First Degree before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth F. Case. This is the highest charge for which the defendant could have been convicted had he gone to trial.
Hunt, who at the time was assigned to the jail division of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, smuggled over an ounce of marijuana and a cellphone into the Erie County Holding Center on August 2, 2014 for the benefit of a group of inmates. The inmates previously paid Hunt $500 and had agreed to pay him another $500 upon delivery. Erie County Sheriff’s Detectives, armed with a search warrant, were waiting for Hunt when he arrived at work that day and seized the drugs and the cellphone intended for the inmates. Both items are considered a “dangerous contraband” under state law for the risk they pose to the inmates and guards at the facility. Hunt was immediately fired by Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard.
Hunt’s conviction was the result of a month-long investigation conducted by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Office of the Erie County District Attorney. Hunt faces up to seven years in state prison when he is sentenced on January 12, 2015 at 9:30 am by Judge Case.
Also arrested at the same time was former Deputy Eric Stevens, 33, of Grand Prix Dr. in the Town of Cheektowaga. Stevens was also terminated for his role in allegedly smuggling various items, including a lighter (which also constitutes “dangerous contraband” under the law) into the Holding Center. It appears that Stevens was operating separately from Hunt. An Erie County Grand Jury will likely hear testimony regarding Stevens. Like all defendants accused of a crime, Stevens is legally presumed to be innocent until his guilt is proven in a court of law.
Both cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney and Felony Trial Bureau Chief Michael P. Felicetta. DA Sedita added: “Particularly commendable are the efforts of Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard in proactively and aggressively investigating these cases.”