By Mark Gutglueck
A high-ranking prison guard at the Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville has been arrested on bribery and contraband smuggling charges.
Paul James Hayes II, 49, of Victorville, who voluntarily has been on leave from his job since October 2018, was arrested on February 28.
Hayes, a lieutenant with the Bureau of Prisons Special Investigation Services assigned to investigate wrongdoing by inmates and guards whose duties included preventing the importation of narcotics, weapons, cell phones and other forbidden items into detention facilities, has ironically been charged with doing just that.
According to authorities, he accepted a total of $40,000 in cash from Angel Marie Wagner, the girlfriend of an inmate, to bring illicit items into the prison. Those items were provided to Wagner’s boyfriend and other inmates in the facility, according to federal officials.
An affidavit filed with a criminal complaint on February 28 states that beginning in June 2018, Bureau of Prisons Special Investigation Services employees reviewed suspicious emails and telephone conversations between an inmate and Wagner, 42, of Buena Park, described as the inmate’s girlfriend.
The conversations referenced Wagner meeting a Bureau of Prisons staff member outside a Home Depot store in Victorville on July 15, 2018, the affidavit states. A review of other inmate communications revealed that money transfers were being made to Wagner, according to court documents. On July 15, agents covertly watched Hayes arrive at the Victorville Home Depot in his Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, the affidavit said. The agents allegedly also observed Wagner walk from her rental vehicle to Hayes’s SUV, then hand Hayes a brown-colored envelope, which Hayes took and placed inside his vehicle.
When federal agents interviewed Wagner on Thursday, she identified Hayes from a photographic lineup and said she had met him multiple times in 2018, the affidavit said. Wagner also said she believed she provided Hayes with a total of approximately $40,000 in cash across their various meetings in 2018, court documents state. Wagner allegedly also admitted to receiving wire transfers of money, which she later would withdraw in cash and place in an envelope and give to Hayes. On other occasions, Wagner said she received from third parties envelopes with cash as well as wrapped items that she suspected were controlled substances or cellular telephones, the affidavit said. Wagner allegedly admitted giving the cash and the wrapped items to Hayes.
A review of money transfer service records and emails showed that Wagner received money from people associated with the bribery conspiracy, the affidavit said. There allegedly also were cash deposits totaling $12,520 made into Hayes’s bank account on at least seven occasions between March 8 and August 7, 2018, including one deposit for $4,800 on May 29, 2018.
Hayes, a lieutenant with the Bureau of Prisons Special Investigation Services, was charged with two felonies: acceptance of a bribe by a public official and conspiracy to provide and possess contraband in prison. He made his initial court appearance on March 1 in United States District Court in Riverside and has since been released on $170,000 bond.
Wagner, who was arrested on March 1, has been charged with conspiracy to bribe a public official, bribery of a public official, and conspiracy to provide and possess contraband in prison. She was released on $50,000 bond.
By Mark Gutglueck