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Ex-Officer Benito Jamar Hugie pleads guilty in gold and diamond teeth grill smuggling case

11 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

Ex-corrections officer Benito Jamar Hugie, along with inmate Shawn Brown and others, plead guilty in the Otay Mesa prison bribery case.

Ex-Officer Benito Jamar Hugie pleads guilty in gold and diamond teeth grill smuggling case - Inmate Lookup

In a recent development, a former corrections officer at an Otay Mesa prison, Benito Jamar Hugie, pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court on Tuesday. Hugie, 49, faced charges related to accepting bribes from a prisoner, Shawn Brown, and his brothers. The bribes were part of a scheme to smuggle a gold and diamond-encrusted “grill” for Brown’s teeth into the prison.

Hugie, who had been employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation since at least 2011, lost his job after being indicted, according to public records from Transparent California. His guilty plea, along with that of Brown and his two brothers, is linked to a bribery conspiracy charge.

Brown, along with other co-defendants, also pleaded guilty to running a fraud scheme involving COVID-19 unemployment benefits, netting nearly $700,000 in cash payouts. This fraudulent activity was part of a larger pandemic of unemployment fraud, estimated to have cost California over $20 billion.

Hugie acknowledged accepting at least $5,000 from Brown and his brothers as part of the illicit scheme, which had a total value exceeding $30,000.

The plea agreements disclosed that Hugie facilitated the smuggling of dental molds in and out of the prison in September 2020. These molds were intended for a Houston jeweler to craft the jewel-studded grill. In the subsequent month, he successfully smuggled the finished grill into the prison for Brown.

Hugie’s defense attorney, Douglas Brown (unrelated to the defendants), stated that Benito Jamar Hugie recognized his unprofessional closeness with inmates and accepted responsibility for a series of regrettable decisions.

Simultaneously, a second indictment revealed that, during the FBI’s investigation into the bribery scheme, agents discovered that Brown was involved in defrauding state taxpayers with fraudulent COVID-related unemployment claims.

Five Fresno residents, including one of Brown’s brothers, and another incarcerated man in the Otay Mesa prison were implicated in this indictment.

Brown and five co-defendants pleaded guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy charge, acknowledging a loss of over $550,000 to the state’s Employment Development Department.