RICHLAND, Washington- A former Benton County corrections officer was sentenced by Judge Stanley A. Bastian to 46 months in federal prison for conspiring with inmates to smuggle drugs and other property into the Benton County jail. Eric Christian, 34, pleaded guilty in December 2021.

Christian and six co-defendants conspired to bring cell phones, methamphetamine, heroin, suboxone tapes and other contraband into the prison, court documents show. The plot lasted between January and April 2020. They also allegedly gave inmates access and information about other people in the prison who cooperated with the investigation, or who had specific charges, so that inmates ” identify, attack and retaliate”.

“Mr. Christian was charged with protecting our community, and he broke that trust by allowing dangerous criminals and gang members access to illegal narcotics and unmonitored cell phones in the county jail. Benton,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref. “Here, a prison officer breached the trust of the community and accepted money to break the law – exposing prison inmates to drugs and violence. .”

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Benton County Corrections, Benton County District Attorney‘s Office, and federal organizations worked on the case. Following his 46-month sentence, Christian will have to spend three years on probation.

“We maintain a high level of expectation from law enforcement,” BCSO Sheriff Tom Croskrey said. “When those standards are compromised and criminal behavior occurs, we will hold those people accountable.”

During Christian’s sentencing, Judge Bastian noted that he turned a blind eye to inmate assaults, breaching trust and ignoring his work to keep inmates safe.


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