Alaska corrections officer faces federal drug charges

A Goose Creek prison guard has been arrested in connection with an alleged conspiracy to distribute drugs in the correctional facility. The corrections officer faces federal charges.

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Dean Williams, commissioner of the state Department of Corrections and Karen Loeffler a US District Attorney for Alaska (Photo by Ellen Lockyer, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage)
Dean Williams, commissioner of the state Department of Corrections and Karen Loeffler, a US District Attorney for Alaska (Photo by Ellen Lockyer, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

The criminal complaint charges corrections officer Adam Jason Spindler with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin and marijuana. The case has been brought against Spindler with the help of the FBI, based on an affidavit provided to the Department of Justice by FBI special agent Richard Fuller.

Karen Loeffler is the US Attorney for Alaska. She said it is not unusual for the FBI to be involved in a state case, and stressed the level of cooperation that it took to bring the case to light.

“It’s very important to federal law enforcement and working with our state partner, that we won’t countenance public servants violating their duties by trafficking in narcotics,” Loeffler said.

Information provided by the Justice Department indicates that during this month, the Alaska Department of Corrections contacted the FBI on suspicions that Spindler was smuggling drugs into Goose Creek for distribution to inmates. This week, FBI surveillance observed Spindler’s meeting with a suspected female drug courier in Wasilla, then followed him to Goose Creek, where he has worked the night shift for the past three years.

According to the documents, on arrival at the prison Spindler gave what he said was his bag of “personal use” marijuana to a fellow corrections officer who was leaving the prison to take away from prison grounds. Spindler was detained at the prison, but a search of his person did not turn up any drugs.

A state DOC K-9 unit detected drugs in Spindler’s truck, although agents did not find any in the vehicle at the time. However, the other corrections officer, who was literally holding the bag, called Goose Creek personnel, saying he suspected the presence of heroin in the bag. Tests showed the presence of 1.6 grams of heroin and half a gram of marijuana. Spindler then admitted to FBI agents that he intended to distribute the drugs to an inmate.

Spindler now faces federal drug charges. He was scheduled for an initial appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon. An indictment will be filed in the future, according to Loeffler.

Dean Williams, Alaska Corrections Commissioner, said the incident has mixed significance for his department

“This is a difficult day for us on one hand, and it is a fantastic day for us on the other hand,” Williams said. “And here’s why it is so difficult. One of our corrections officers went to the dark side.”

Williams also credited the cooperation of the FBI in making the case. Williams used the occasion to announce the formation of a new Professional Conduct unit within the corrections department

“This really, I think, represents a new era of public trust, I hope, as well as staff trust, that when problems are brought to us, we’re going to do something about it, at least we are going to try our best to do something about it,” Williams said. “That’s the reason, quite frankly, that I set up the Professional Conduct Unit, the first unit of it’s kind in this department, to really make sure that we are objectively, professionally, doing internal investigations. And that unit, by the way,in conjunction with the FBI, is why this case played out.”

Federal attorneys are not commenting on the case against Spindler at this time, according to Loeffler. Brad Wilson, with the Alaska Correctional Officers Association, said he’s withholding comment until he learns more about the case.

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone.
Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA
elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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