Ex-Halawa guard pleads guilty to meth smuggling

Published On: Aug 06 2014 05:10:58 AM HST
Updated On: Jul 22 2014 10:08:46 PM HST

A former Halawa prison guard changed his plea to guilty Tuesday to charges that he distributed meth and received bribes on the job.

HONOLULU -

A former guard at the Halawa Correctional Facility is pleading guilty to smuggling methamphetamine into the prison.

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Mark Damas pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Honolulu to charges involving meth distribution conspiracy and receiving bribes.

Damas told the judge he got drugs from the outside and delivered them to inmates inside the prison. He says he accepted at least $5,000 in bribes.

A criminal complaint filed in January says he also took bribes to smuggle in other items such as cigarettes, lighters and drug paraphernalia.

State Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz says Damas was fired from his job in April for bringing contraband into the facility.

"As with prison systems across the country, there are constant problems with contraband.  However, we have made a concerted effort to root out contraband and strengthen procedures," said Public Safety Department Director Ted Sakai.  "Thanks to partnerships with the FBI, DEA, IRS and the County Police Departments, we are arresting individuals who commit illegal activities within our facilities and letting others know that we will not tolerate it.  The arrest of 17 inmates and seven staff in the past year shows that our efforts are paying off."

Damas faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison when he's sentenced Nov. 10.

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