Prison Guard Accused of Drug Dealing

A corrections officer who was out on paid leave for an injury is now facing trial. James Petrella is accused of trying to sell pain medications to undercover police officers.

Petrella worked at the Maximum Security facility and is now being housed in the Adult Correctional Institution after he failed to post a $20,000 bond. The drugs he was alleged to have sold are Oxycodone, a powerful prescription narcotic, and Clonazepam, a controlled drug used to treat insomnia or anxiety. It was not reported whether these were medications prescribed to Petrella for his injury or whether he had obtained them elsewhere. In either case, it is a felony to sell scheduled drugs.

There was no connection to his job alleged, and no accusations of providing drugs to prisoners under his authority. However, when a corrections officer is caught selling drugs, the suspicion is that the prisoners in their charge would be the most obvious customers. The Department of Corrections is very aware that drugs can be smuggled into their facilities and are keen to catch anyone doing so.

It’s a shame when one of the good guys is charged with a drug offense, and one wonders how it can be that someone intimately familiar with the punishment side would take the risk. Petrella has not been convicted of any crime as of yet, so there is some hope that he will be found not guilty. If he is found guilty, it is unlikely he will spend time in prison for the offense, but he would certainly lose his career as a corrections officer.

The important thing here might be that the police are doing their job and, when warranted, don’t hesitate to set the “bond of blue” aside and make an arrest. The real danger would be if police looked the other way when one of their own was suspected of criminal activity.


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