Former Prison Chaplain Enters Guilty Plea in Drug Smuggling Case

Apr 30, 2019

Credit Credit mikecogh via Flickr Creative Commons

A former prison chaplain pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court to charges he smuggled drugs and other contraband to inmates.

Joseph Buenviaje served as chaplain at the federal prison in Berlin from 2015 until November of last year, when he was arrested after being found in possession of hundreds of strips of Suboxone.

According to court paperwork, investigators were tipped off to the smuggling operation by an inmate. Prosecutors say Buenviaje would bring drugs, including notebooks with pages soaked in synthetic cannabinoids, as well as cell phones, tobacco and other contraband into the prison. He received payments of at least $12,000, according to law enforcement.

“By smuggling contraband into a prison, this defendant jeopardized the safety of the inmates and staff at the facility.  Such conduct simply cannot be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Murray in a statement.

Buenviaje will be sentenced in August.