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Charges filed in alleged Manson cellphone smuggling attempt

March 27, 2013|By Richard Winton
  • Charles Manson
Charles Manson (Associated Press )

King County prosecutors have filed charges against a follower of Charles Manson who was arrested Sunday at Corcoran State prison on suspicion of trying to smuggle a cellphone to the convicted mass murderer. Craig Carlisle Hammond, 63, is charged with possession of an illegal communication device, prosecutors said.

Hammond, a retiree, was searched and subsequently arrested at 3:35 p.m. Sunday and taken to Kings County Jail, where he was released four hours later on $30,000 bail. He is due in court next month. Telephone calls to Hammond were not returned Wednesday.

Thornton said the device was a wristwatch cellphone and was discovered by guards after Hammond entered an area where possession of such devices is prohibited.

PHOTOS: California serial killers

Hammond, who goes by the name Gray Wolf, given to him by Manson, is a regular visitor of Manson's, the mastermind of one the most notorious killing rampages in U.S. history -- the Tate-La Bianca murders in Los Angeles.

Manson has been caught with a cellphone in his cell twice. Manson called people in California, New Jersey and Florida with an LG flip phone found under his prison bunk in March 2009. For the offense, 30 days were added to his sentence. The cult leader was again found with a cellphone in his cell on Jan. 6, 2011.

That fall, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state Senate bill that makes it a misdemeanor to possess an unauthorized cellphone in prison or to try to take one into a prison. Violators face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

PHOTOS: The Manson murders

The proliferation of cellphones in prisons is a significant public safety concern, officials say. Inmates have run street gangs from behind bars, intimidated witnesses and orchestrated assaults on guards, they said. In 2011, 15,000 cellphones were found inside prisons.

Manson, 78, is technically eligible for parole but will almost certainly die in prison for ordering the ritualistic murders of Sharon Tate and six other people in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969.

Manson sees few visitors, but Hammond is among his regulars. Hammond controls a copyright on Manson's music and is a self-described follower of the inmate.

A Manson website maintained by followers and believers of Manson's ATWA group -- an acronym for Air, Trees, Water, Animals -- reported that Gray Wolf was detained at the Level 4 visitation entrance.

According to the website, Manson was meeting with another friend when Gray Wolf was detained by guards. Manson and the two visitors were subsequently searched, and the two visitors also consented to their vehicles being searched. Gray Wolf was then taken into custody and asked for a lawyer, according to the website.

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Gay rights lawyer senses high court will strike down DOMA

Texas judge rules LAPD can have Charles Manson follower's tapes

Twitter: @lacrimes| Google+

richard.winton@latimes.com 

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