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Victorville Prison official arrested on bribery charges alleging he took bribes and smuggled contraband

VICTORVILLE, Calif. — A Bureau of Prisons (BOP) correctional officer who was a lieutenant assigned to investigate wrongdoing by inmates and officers at the Federal Correctional Complex, Victorville, has been arrested on federal charges alleging he took thousands of dollars in cash bribes in exchange for smuggling contraband into the prison.

Paul James Hayes II, 49, of Victorville, who voluntarily has been on leave from his job since October 2018, was arrested on Thursday and has been charged with two felonies: acceptance of a bribe by a public official, and conspiracy to provide and possess contraband in prison. Hayes was a lieutenant with the Bureau of Prisons Special Investigation Services (SIS), which investigates illegal activity by correctional officers and inmates. He made his initial court appearance on Friday in United States District Court and is expected to be released today on $170,000 bond.

According to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint on Thursday, beginning in June 2018, SIS employees reviewed suspicious emails and telephone conversations between an inmate and his girlfriend, Angel Marie Wagner, 42, of Buena Park. The conversations referenced Wagner meeting a BOP staff member outside a Home Depot store in Victorville on July 15, 2018, the affidavit states. A review of other inmate communications revealed that money transfers were being made to Wagner, according to court documents. On July 15, agents covertly watched Hayes arrive at the Victorville Home Depot in his Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, the affidavit said. The agents allegedly also observed Wagner walk from her rental vehicle to Hayes’s SUV, then hand Hayes a brown-colored envelope, which Hayes took and placed inside his vehicle.

When federal agents interviewed Wagner on Thursday, she identified Hayes from a photographic lineup and said she had met him multiple times in 2018, the affidavit said. Wagner also said she believed she provided Hayes with a total of approximately $40,000 in cash across their various meetings in 2018, court documents state. Wagner allegedly also admitted to receiving wire transfers of money, which she later would withdraw in cash and place in an envelope and give to Hayes. On other occasions, Wagner said she received from third parties envelopes with cash as well as wrapped items that she suspected were controlled substances or cellular telephones, the affidavit said. Wagner allegedly admitted giving the cash and the wrapped items to Hayes.

A review of money transfer service records and emails showed that Wagner received money from people associated with the bribery conspiracy, the affidavit said. There allegedly also were cash deposits totaling $12,520 made into Hayes’s bank account on at least seven occasions between March 8 and August 7, 2018, including one deposit for $4,800 on May 29, 2018.

Wagner, who was arrested on Friday, has been charged with conspiracy to bribe a public official, bribery of a public official, and conspiracy to provide and possess contraband in prison. She was released on $50,000 bond.

If convicted of all charges, Hayes faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison while Wagner faces a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.

A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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