Prison guard faces charges
Kirkpatrick allegedly helped smuggle drugs into SCI Somerset
A Somerset County prison guard, who resides in Carrolltown, faces numerous felony charges for allegedly conspiring with a well-known Altoona drug dealer to smuggle narcotics into the State Correctional Institution at Somerset.
Shawn Kirkpatrick, 39, of 120 W. Campbell St., is accused of having a part in an alleged drug selling scheme led by Akil Johnson, who was convicted on 35 drug-related offenses in June 2005.
Johnson was known as “the leader of a major crack cocaine-selling operation in the Altoona area and ended up receiving one of the longest sentences ever imposed on a local dealer — 49 to 98 years,” according to a previous Mirror report.
Charging documents filed against Kirkpatrick by the state police Organized Crime Task Force note a number of recorded phone calls made from early to mid-September, in which Johnson allegedly made requests to have Suboxone, synthetic marijuana and Xanax smuggled into the prison.
Kirkpatrick “is transporting the items into the institution,” according to the complaint.
To prove this, investigators contacted Johnson through his prison email account to inform him that a person named Meghan — actually an undercover officer — would deliver narcotics to the prison, the complaint reads.
In mid-October, a man working with Johnson met the undercover officer at Logan Township’s Logan Town Centre, where she was given a red balloon that contained “a large amount” of Suboxone strips, according to the complaint.
On Oct. 31, investigators said they recorded an exchange between Johnson and Kirkpatrick in the prison. During that exchange, Johnson passed an envelope to Kirkpatrick, according to investigators, who explained Johnson had “no reason to be on the block where Kirkpatrick was working.”
In the days that followed, the undercover officer spoke on the phone with another man involved in the smuggling operation, and at one point he referred to a man named “Kirk” who would be taking the drugs into the prison, according to the complaint.
“Investigators believe that ‘Kirk’ is a condensed name for Kirkpatrick,” the complaint reads.
Investigators surveilled Kirkpatrick’s home Nov. 7. That same day, the undercover officer was told by another alleged conspirator, Adam Getty, to place fraudulent drugs on a picnic table at Old Farm Inn in East Carroll Township, according to the complaint.
She did as she was instructed, and investigators who were following Kirkpatrick said they saw his vehicle, a Rav4, parked across the street from where she placed the drugs. Investigators said Kirkpatrick drove to retrieve the drugs before leaving the area to drive to Getty’s home.
There, both Kirkpatrick and Getty were arrested.
According to the complaint, Getty admitted to being a part of the drug-trading scheme and told investigators that Kirkpatrick “contacted him and asked for help with picking up Suboxone and Xanax from a woman.”
Kirkpatrick also spoke with investigators, giving them access to his phone, which had all of its call and text messaging history deleted, according to the complaint.
Johnson also was interviewed, telling investigators “an ex-inmate that was released several months ago was routinely using … Kirkpatrick to smuggle everything into the institution.”
The investigation continued, and on Wednesday, officers served a search warrant at Kirkpatrick’s home, finding a booby trap, a facsimile pipe bomb, marijuana and marijuana growing equipment, according to the complaint.
The complaint was filed against Kirkpatrick on Thursday, and he was arraigned that afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Sandra Stevanus.
Online court documents show he faces felony charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, corruption, possession of contraband and conspiracy. He faces lesser charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of an instrument of crime, making repairs to a weapon and recklessly endangering another person.
Kirkpatrick remains in Somerset County Prison unable to post $100,000 cash bail. He is to appear for a preliminary hearing at
10:15 a.m. Thursday before Stevanus.
Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.