Iraq War Vet Sentenced for Smuggling Cigarettes Into Prison

Jan 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm

A local military veteran who more recently spent his working days on one side of the iron bars will soon be living on the other side of them. Yesterday a U.S. district judge punished a federal correctional officer who previously served in Iraq for smuggling cigarettes into the prison where he worked and passing them off to an inmate who rewarded him with cash and sold the smokes on the prison's black market.

United States District Judge Michael J. Reagan sentenced Dreux M. Perkins, 26, of Greenville, to two and a half years in prison for bribery by a federal official, honest services wire fraud and making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer. Perkins made at least $2,500 for his scheme before getting caught.

It appears that Perkins is not only a criminal, but also a victim of his own disease. Court documents reveal that Perkins acquired a gambling addiction and that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being exposed to road-side bombs during his military service in Iraq.

According to his case file, Perkins and a second defendant, Khalat Jamal Alama, an inmate at Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, a medium-security federal prison for males, engaged in conversations in the fall of 2009 that included a discussion of Perkins' finances. The conversations culminated with Perkins agreeing to smuggle cigarettes into prison for Alama in exchange for cash. The men agreed that Alama's acquaintances outside the prison walls would handle the payments.

In the summer of 2010, a person listed in court documents as "Individual #1," from Lincoln, Nebraska, sent $600 to Perkins, via Western Union. And last year, another Alama associate named "Liz" met Perkins and gave him a $2,000 bribe, along with multiple packs of cigarettes for Alama to sell on the black market.

Prior to sentencing Perkins' attorney, Daniel Goggin, filed a motion in hopes of transferring the case to a veteran's court. Perkins, a combat veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, is diagnosed with both Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Impulse Control Disorder related to his gambling. In his motion, Goggin attached a letter from an official at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Jefferson Barracks, where Perkins was receiving treatment. That official, Shawn O'Connor, Ph.D., recommended that Perkins be moved to a V.A. residential program.

In his rebuttal to that motion, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft stated: "The Defendant's motion, while well intentioned, is procedurally inappropriate. The suggestion to implement a new District-wide sentencing program is an administrative matter that would need to be considered outside of the context of a particular criminal prosecution."

Judge Reagan denied the motion. In addition to the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Reagan also hit Perkins with $1,000 in fees and fines, along with three years of supervised release following his incarceration, during which time he is required to undergo psychological evaluations and is barred from going to casinos or other gaming institutions.