GUARD SMUGGLED DRUGS INTO JAIL
Wed, 12 Jul 2006
The Edmonton Journal
'Now I'm No Better Than One Of Them Guys,' Police Told
EDMONTON - A former Edmonton Remand Centre guard admitted Tuesday he repeatedly smuggled in drugs for inmates before police caught him heading to work carrying hundreds of pills.
Matthew Domke started bringing prisoners tobacco in December 2004 because he felt sorry for them after the province banned smoking in jails, according to evidence presented in provincial court.
All he apparently received for his trouble was a carton of cigarettes and some cocaine. Domke, a guard for roughly three years, thought the tobacco would help keep inmates calm and prevent fights.
"When you got 48 guys on the (cell) range, testosterone flows and beatings happen," he told Edmonton police Det. Kevin Brezinski.
Domke, 24, discovered some pouches he took inside the centre, which he picked up from people who knew the inmates, also contained marijuana.
He estimated he brought drugs into the facility six or seven times over roughly three months, telling Brezinski he was worried that if he stopped inmates would inform on him.
"The conscience was starting to feel guilty ... I figured I shouldn't be doing this," Domke said. "I'm uniformed staff ... now I'm no better than one of them guys."
When Brezinski heard Domke was delivering drugs to inmates, the guard was put under surveillance.
On Feb. 8, 2005, officers watched the uniformed guard pick up a box from a Mill Woods home and drive to the remand centre, where he was arrested before his afternoon shift. The box, which he carried inside a knapsack, contained marijuana and about 550 pills, including morphine and codeine. The drugs were worth about $15,500 inside the centre, almost five times their street value.
Domke pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing controlled substances for the purpose of trafficking. He said he agreed to deliver the package for a man from whom he bought the cocaine.
Domke said he met the dealer through an inmate. He said the dealer once swung a baton and talked about people he had beaten up, and Domke was afraid the same thing would happen to him or his family if he did not co-operate.
He was fired after he was arrested. It's unclear whether he was paid for his illegal activities, though at one point in his interview with Brezinski he mentioned getting "money and an adrenaline rush."
Crown prosecutor Larry Ackerl said Domke never reported his problems to authorities or spoke about them to his uncle, also a remand staff member.
"Mr. Domke has walked an increasingly perilous path from obeying the law to enforcing the law to violating the law," said Ackerl, who asked for an eight-year prison sentence.
"This path has taken him from citizen to peace officer to criminal."
Judge Mike Allen will give his sentencing decision Sept. 15.
Defence lawyer Ravi Prithipaul argued that his client should be put under house arrest for the maximum two years less a day, being allowed out only to go to his job as an apprentice mechanic.
Prithipaul described Domke as gullible and naive young man, saying he tried
to get away from the situation by asking to change shifts or transfer to another area.
"He has taken that initial step down a slope and progressively realizes that he is in more and more danger, he's more and more vulnerable."
Dr. Dorothy Constable, a psychologist who interviewed Domke last September, wrote in a report that guards at the remand centre often get little direction on ways to deal with difficult situations.
Some staff feel that raising concerns with their superiors will make the problem worse, so they are often left to develop their own strategies, she wrote.
"It was the opinion of collateral sources contacted that the culture of the organization would have contributed to Mr. Domke's failure to disclose his situation or seek advice if, as he suggests, he found himself in a situation over his head."