FRESNO — A female correctional officer at troubled Corcoran State Prison has been arrested on charges of conspiring with an inmate to solicit the murder of her husband.
For months, authorities said, correctional staff at the Kings County prison noticed an unusual bond developing between guard Linda Brock and an inmate who belonged to the infamous Black Guerrilla Family gang.
Kings County prosecutors say Brock, 43, and the inmate forged a bond that included several sexual trysts, a plan to murder her husband and a separate conspiracy to kill rival gang members inside the prison. None of the plots succeeded.
As the seven-year correctional officer carried out her end of the plan, authorities said, she smuggled weapons into the prison and bought a large quantity of heroin to give to the inmate.
Corrections investigators and county authorities arrested Brock last weekend as she began her work shift. They found more than a pound of marijuana and 7 ounces of heroin at her home in Bakersfield. Bail has been set at $500,000.
"There have been a number of cases in the past where female staff or correctional officers have become romantically involved with prisoners," said Patrick Hart, chief deputy district attorney for Kings County, south of Fresno.
"But this one is way off the scale. That's enough heroin to buy at least two murders, if not more."
Administrators at Corcoran State Prison, who have come under renewed scrutiny after an inmate bled to death on Super Bowl Sunday, declined to provide the name of the inmate or additional details.
"We take seriously any allegation against officers, and we definitely pursue them," said Sabrina Johnson, the prison's public information officer.
"This is an organization made up of a lot of committed and devoted people. It's a sad day," Johnson said.
The arrest was another blow for the state's beleaguered Corrections Department, which has been under investigation by legislative committees.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the U.S. attorney in Sacramento on Feb. 6 to investigate allegations that officials at Folsom State Prison had orchestrated a riot two years ago and then conspired to cover it up. The governor has also reversed an earlier decision to greatly reduce the state's lone correctional watchdog agency, and administration officials have announced plans to phase out the California Youth Authority's use of steel-mesh cages to confine unruly juveniles.
Brock, who started her career at Corcoran in 1996, was assigned to the general population yard. It was there, say prosecutors and corrections officials, that she struck up a friendship with the inmate. They began a relationship that included numerous acts of oral sex, authorities said.
Over the last several weeks, internal investigators were able to develop an inside source who told them that the relationship had evolved into a murder-for-hire conspiracy. They said Brock had asked the inmate to hire an associate on the outside to kill her husband, with whom she was still living.
She acquired enough heroin to help pay for the murder, authorities said, and she then smuggled two knives into the prison as part of a separate plan in which the inmate would kill his rivals.
A recent yard fight between gang members was apparently tied to the conspiracy, authorities said.
This is not the first time that a correctional officer at Corcoran has been arrested in such a scheme. Four years ago, Francisco Gavaldon, a stocky guard with a neck full of tattoos, was found guilty of solicitation to murder his ex-wife and sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison. The killing was never carried out.