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Correctional Officer From Irvington Admits Smuggling Drugs To Inmate

Roberto Reyes-Jackson
Roberto Reyes-Jackson Photo Credit: Attorney General

A suspended correctional officer at Newark's Northern State Prison admitted he smuggled marijuana and fentanyl to an inmate in exchange for cash, Attorney General Gurbrir S. Grewal said Thursday.

Roberto Reyes-Jackson, 30, of Irvington, faces four years in prison when he's sentenced in February 2020. As part of his plea, Reyes-Jackson will forfeit his job and will be permanently ineligible for public employment.

Investigators say that from September to December 2016, Reyes-Jackson delivered a powder laced with fentanyl to an inmate named Aaron Copeland. After staff discovered marijuana and fentanyl in Copeland's cell, an investigation determined that Copeland's girlfriend, Tyeesha Powell, paid Reyes-Jackson hundreds of dollars to smuggle the drugs into the prison, authorities said.

Copeland distributed the drugs to inmates, whose family and friends wired him cash in exchange.

“Reyes-Jackson put lives at risk by smuggling this very dangerous opioid into Northern State Prison,” said Grewal. “Fentanyl is so potent that minute amounts can result in overdose and death. This guilty plea ensures that Reyes-Jackson will face justice for betraying his duty and callously disregarding the safety and welfare of his fellow officers as well as inmates in the prison.”

Copeland, 31, of Newark, pleaded guilty previously to a charge of distribution of fentanyl and faces a recommended sentence of three years in prison, including one year of parole ineligibility, to run consecutive to the sentence he is currently serving. Powell, 34, of Pleasantville, pleaded guilty previously to distribution of fentanyl and faces a recommended sentence of probation. They are awaiting sentencing.

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