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Man convicted of flying drone into WCI

March 17th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

The Office of the State’s Attorney for Allegany County, the Honorable Michael O. Twigg, State’s Attorney, announced on Thursday, March 17, 2016, that Charles Westley Brooks, 43, was convicted by jury in the Allegany County Circuit Court, following a two day trial, on charges related to his involvement in a conspiracy to deliver drugs and other contraband into the Western Correctional Institution in August 2015 utilizing a flying drone.  Brooks was an inmate at the time of the offenses.

The jury convicted Brooks of illegally possessing a cellphone and tobacco, both contraband within the prison, and two counts of Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute Controlled Dangerous Substances.  The Honorable W. Timothy Finan, Administrative Judge for the Allegany County Circuit Court, sentenced Brooks, who was serving a sentence for murder and was approaching parole eligibility at the time of the offenses, to 13 years consecutive in the Maryland Department of Corrections.

In early August 2015, investigators with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and members of the C3I Narcotics Unit began investigating a suspected plot to fly contraband into the prison via a flying drone.  The investigation developed two suspects, Charles Brooks, an inmate within the facility, and Thaddeus Shortz, a former inmate.  In the evening hours of August 22, 2015, investigators set up surveillance on an access road that leads behind the prison.  They observed Shortz arrive in the area, along with a Keith Russell.  The two men exited a vehicle and acted suspiciously, at which time, investigators made contact with them.  Inside the vehicle, a flying drone was located, along with six individually wrapped packages containing a substantial quantity of Suboxone, Synthetic Marijuana, tobacco, a cellphone and pornographic DVDs.  There was also a handgun located within the vehicle.  The investigation also revealed recorded phone calls from the prison between Brooks and Shortz, discussing the conspiracy.

Shortz was previously convicted of 31 charges relating to this incident, following a jury trial in January, and awaits sentencing while in the Allegany County Detention Center.  Russell pled guilty to three offenses in February, and is awaiting his sentencing hearing while detained at the local jail as well.

According to Assistant State’s Attorney Erich Bean, who prosecuted the cases “All three men have now been convicted and held accountable for their respective roles in this dangerous, illegal operation.  This is the first case of its kind in the State of Maryland and possibly in the country, and the outstanding work of all the investigators involved is to be commended.”

Brooks was represented by Rebecca Lechliter, Esq.


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