Mass. federal prison counselor agrees to plead guilty to accepting illegal benefits from wealthy inmate

A guard at the Devens Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass. (Elise Amendola/AP)
A guard at the Devens Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass. (Elise Amendola/AP)

An inmate counselor at a federal prison in Massachusetts received about $140,000 in illegal benefits and loans through a wealthy prisoner in his care, federal prosecutors said.

William S. Tidwell, 49, of Keene, New Hampshire, has agreed to plead guilty to bribery in violation of official duties, making false statements to a bank and identity theft, the U.S. attorney in Boston said Monday.

Tidwell will appear in federal court at a later date. His attorney, Brad Bailey, said Tuesday he had no comment.

Tidwell has worked for the Bureau of Prisons since 2000 and since 2008 has been at the Federal Medical Center-Devens. As a counselor, his duties included working closely with inmates on their work and housing assignments. Under Bureau of Prisons rules, employees are not allowed to receive payments, gifts, or personal favors from inmates.

One of the inmates Tidwell supervised was what prosecutors described as an “ultra-high net worth" individual serving time for financial crimes.

That inmate, identified only as “Individual 1” in court documents, in 2018 directed a close friend and business associate to wire $25,000 to a member of Tidwell’s family, prosecutors said. Starting in 2019, Tidwell and the wealthy inmate entered into a property management agreement that resulted in $65,000 in benefits to Tidwell, prosecutors said.

Tidwell also allegedly received a $50,000 loan from the wealthy inmate's associate to buy a home, prosecutors said. He lied, telling the bank that the $50,000 was a gift and forging documents to support that claim, authorties said.

“Corrections officers are placed in a position of public trust," acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy said in a statement. “The vast majority of corrections officers carry out their duties with integrity and professionalism. They know that accepting payments from an inmate — as is alleged against Mr. Tidwell here — is a serious violation of that trust and a betrayal of the BOP’s mission to care for federal inmates in a safe and impartial manner."



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