BOISE -- Four current correctional officers at the Idaho State Correctional Institution have been indicted on federal charges after investigators say they agreed to participate in a major trafficking scheme.
The FBI zeroed in on the men during an investigation into Idaho Department of Correction employees smuggling contraband into the prison.
Court documents outline a stunning set of allegations, detailing the defendants' nine-month run of illegal activity, ranging from from packaging drugs and counting cash for their purported traffickers, to wearing their IDOC uniforms during drug transports to allay law enforcement suspicions, to soliciting the undercover officers for heroin in order to smuggle it into ISCI.
The employees' names and charges are listed below:
Timothy Landon, 35, of Boise, is charged with two counts of conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of controlled substances and one count of possession and transportation of contraband cigarettes.
Richard McCollough, 36, of Boise, is charged with one count of conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of controlled substances, two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and one count of distribution of cocaine.
Eric Thompson, 38, of Star, is charged with one count of conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of controlled substances, two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and one count of distribution of cocaine.
Robert Wallin, 35, of Boise, is charged with one count of conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of controlled substances and one count of possession and transportation of contraband cigarettes.
Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart described the defendants' action as "a violation of trust."
"These four current IDOC employees... used their official positions to further their criminal conspiracy, and for that they will be held to account," he said.
All four men were taken into custody Thursday morning. IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray says the men will be placed on administrative leave as the prison moves forward with the process to fire them.
According to the indictment, the men agreed to work with people they believed were running a massive narcotics operation. In reality, they were dealing with undercover FBI agents.
The investigation began in January 2017, after a contract nurse at ISCI was caught smuggling contraband into the facility. An FBI agent interviewed the woman, and asked "if she could put him in contact with any other correctional workers who would be willing to assist in criminal activity."
The woman gave him Richard McCollough's name, then his phone number.
McCollough - who worked in the prison as a correctional officer/food service officer, was interested, investigators say, and he wasn't the only one. He brought in Eric Thompson, another correctional/food service officer, who in turn recruited transport officer Timothy Landon.
According to the indictments, the trio of McCollough, Thompson and Landon agreed to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs for the organization the undercover agent said he was working.
In June 2017, McCollough and Thompson conducted surveillance during what they believed to be a drug deal, communicating with an undercover agent via two-way radio. In the following months, the pair
provided security at a Boise hotel during the purported delivery of ten pounds of methamphetamine, then again at a gas station during a $100,000 drug payment, and traveled to Las Vegas for a meeting between the traffickers and their purported suppliers.
The defendants used their positions at the prison to further the trafficking conspiracy, according to investigators, passing information from their trafficking contacts to an inmate inside the prison, making fake entries in a prison file, and handing the inmate's file over to undercover FBI agents.
McCollough and Thompson even wore their IDOC uniforms during a drug transport, and obtained anotherIDOC uniform for the undercover FBI employee, "in order to reduce suspicion in the event that their vehicle was pulled over," the indictment charges.
Landon joined the other two men during a September 2017 transport of what they believed to be 20 pounds of methamphetamine from Boise to a storage facility in Meridian, but ultimately told the undercover agents he did not want to work with McCollough and Thompson anymore, bringing in fellow transport officer Robert Wallin as his partner, according to prosecutors.
Landon and Wallin continued working for the supposed drug traffickers, hauling unstamped, purportedly stolen cigarettes from Boise to Ontario, and providing security during money and drug deliveries.
McCollough and Thompson - who routinely carried their own handguns during the alleged crimes - continued working together as well, according to the indictment, delivering real cocaine and fake methamphetamine to undercover officers posing as customers of the trafficking organization.
During one such delivery in March 2018, Thompson allegedly asked the undercover agent for heroin so he could sneak it into the prison for distribution.
At a press conference Thursday, the FBI praised IDOC Director Henry Atencio for calling in reinforcements after realizing there was wrongdoing at the prison.
"The fact that we may have wrongdoing in one of our public agencies, unfortunately, is not uncommon," Barnhart said. "The way he handled it though, is exactly the way we would want any leader to handle it - recognize you have a problem, meet it head-on."
Atencio stressed that prison employees like the four indicted officers make up represent a minute percentage of IDOC's staff.
"The vast majority of them are dedicated, ethical public servants who walk the toughest beat in every corner of the state, every day and around the clock," he said. They are Idaho's unsung heroes."
If convicted, the defendants could face up to life in prison.