Guard, 7 others charged with smuggling drugs into Chester Co. Prison


Douglas Keck

POCOPSON — A corrections officer at Chester County Prison is being charged with allegedly being part of a scheme to smuggle drugs to inmates, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said Monday.

Douglas Keck, 45, of Pottstown was charged along with seven other individuals — including four inmates at the prison — in organizing an operation to smuggle heroin, Subutex (a narcotic analgesic), and Xanax into the prison, starting in Feb. 2015.

The four charged inmates include: Ray Gibase, 36, , Richard Nicoletti, 38, Steven Wambold, 24 and  Victor Rodriguez, 27. Three others with ties to the inmates were charged as well:  Vladislav Babayan, 30, of Bristol; Brittany Pestcoe, 21, of Douglasville and Ivelise Rodriguez, 34, of Philadelphia.

All of those charged have been arrested and processed — except Gibase, who is listed as a fugitive from a state halfway house.

“As a result of his greed, this correctional officer is going from guarding inmates to being an inmate,” Hogan said in a statement.. “For a few dollars, he abused his position of trust, lost his job and reputation, and now faces a criminal conviction. We expect members of the criminal justice system to keep drugs away from criminals, not act as an in-prison drug dealer. The Chester County Detectives and prison officials did an excellent job uncovering this scheme and arresting the conspirators.”

Chester County Prison Warden Ed McFadden made it clear that Keck’s alleged actions are atypical of the facility’s corrections staff and would not be tolerated.

”We will not stand for misconduct at Chester County Prison,” McFadden said. “This correctional officer was immediately terminated and all parties involved will be prosecuted.”

Law enforcement officials said, Keck — who was hired at the prison in Sept., 2014 — was befriended by Gibase, an inmate on H Block, an area of the prison that usually houses state prisoners who violated parole.

According to the charges filed, Keck and Gibase worked out the scheme together, with Keck to make $100 per delivery of illegal substances to Gibase, who reputedly managed distribution within the facility. Not long after the plot was hatched, prison officials and the Chester County Detectives learned of the operation. Inmate phone calls were monitored and detectives began to gather evidence of the scheme.

The investigation came to a head on March 23, when Keck was allegedly arranging a drug pickup from other members of the ring at a Wawa in North Coventry. Chester County Detectives reportedly observed the transaction and then approached Keck, who immediately turned over the package, which had been delivered by Pestcoe, identified as the girlfriend of inmate Wambold. She was an employee at the CVS Pharmacy in Douglassville. Authorities said that Pestcoe stole the drugs from the pharmacy before turning them to Keck for transit to the prison. According to authorities, Keck had his four-year-old son with him at the time of the alleged transfer of the drugs.

All eight were charged with a conspiracy to smuggle drugs and other contraband into the prison, drug dealing, criminal use of a communication facility, and other drug-related charges. Keck also has been charged with endangering the welfare of his child.

This case was investigated by the Chester County Detectives together with intelligence officials from the Chester County Prison. The case will be prosecuted by the Chester County District Attorney’s Drug Unit. Anybody with any further information should contact Chester County Detective Robert Balchunis at (610) 344-6866.

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