Former Anamosa correctional officer convicted for smuggling cells to inmates will serve 4 years in federal prison

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Anamosa State Penitentiary correctional officer who smuggled cell phones, drugs and other items to inmates was sentenced to over four years in federal prison on Wednesday.

Garrett Barton, 29, of Anamosa, pleaded guilty in October to one count of a Hobbs Act Extortion Under Color of Official Right — in other words, accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into the prison — and one count of being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms.

U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade said Wednesday Barton not only smuggled cell phones into the prison, but also smuggled prescription drugs, chewing tobacco and pornography. She noted what was also “concerning” was his use of controlled substances while being in possessing of an AR-15 assault rifle as a tower guard.

During the plea hearing in October, Barton admitted to smuggling cellphones into the prison and extorting $200 from an inmate for the phones from July 23, 2010, through Feb. 20. Possession of cellphones in prison is prohibited, even for correctional officers.

Barton also admitted during the plea hearing to possessing firearms, including semi-automatic pistols, two shotguns and the assault rifle while on tower duty.

Reade also fined Barton $7,500, which he claimed he didn’t have the financial means to pay.

Assistant U.S. Attorney C.J. Williams said Barton could pay a fine and cited his argument made in sentencing documents, which stated Barton received a large civil settlement in the accident.

Clemens Erdahl, Barton’s lawyer, said the settlement money was needed for future medical expenses and his family.

Barton in sentencing documents and and his family members and other supporters submitted letters to the court, attributing his drug abuse to serious injuries he sustained in a 2007 motorcycle accident, but Reade dismissed those claims saying he started using drugs as a teen and drugs were found in the system after the motorcycle crash.

She added his physical injuries couldn’t have been too serious because he was hired as a correctional officer.

U.S. Attorney Kevin Techau said after hearing that Barton chose to “place his own greed above the safety of other Iowa Department of Corrections employees as well as the public he was sworn to protect.”

Anamosa State Penitentiary Warden William Sperfslage in statement after sentencing said “we believe it very appropriate that he is now sentenced to a period of incarceration in a correctional facility.”

Barton must also serve a three year term of supervised release after his prison time. Reade allowed Barton to self-surrender to the U.S. Marshals on Feb. 24.

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