May 28, 2014 at 4:22 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - New Jersey US Attorney Paul Fishman today announced that two corrections officers and a lawyer were charged with smuggling marijuana to federal inmates at the Essex County Jail.
Essex County corrections officers Stephon Solomon, 26, of Irvington and Channel Lespinasse, 25, of Florham Park, were charged with smuggling cell phones and marijuana into the pretrial center at the jail. Solomon was arrested at his home early this morning and a summons has been issued for Lespinasse to appear in court June 2.
Also arrested was attorney Brian Kapalin, 66, of Maplewood. According to prosecutors, Kapalin, received monies to give marijuana to an inmate in an attorney conference room at the facility in January. Kapalin was caught discussing further distributions in recorded conversations.
Kapalin had worked for Essex County as an assistant prosecutor from 1984 to 2003.
Fishman said, “According to the complaints, the defendants operated a contraband marketplace with the walls of the Essex County Correctional Facility.”
"Jails are no place for drugs and illicit phones and it is disappointing that two corrections officers and an attorney allegedly used their authority and access to make them available,” he continued.
Fishman noted that six other individuals have been linked to the crime and will appear in U.S. District Court this afternoon in addition to with Kapalin and Solomon.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo released a statement regarding the arrests earlier today. DiVincenzo's office had approached the NJ Office of the Attorney General for assistance in investigating the crime.
“The Essex County Correctional Facility is recognized as a model institution and we have zero tolerance when the security of our institution is jeopardized by corrections officers who abuse their positions, attorneys who exploit privileges and inmates who break our rules,” DiVincenzo said.
“Their aggressive pursuit and diligence to investigate and secure evidence of this illegal activity will help restore the safety of our institution and sends a clear message of how seriously we take these matters.”