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Prison guard among defendants in San Quentin phone smuggling case

A prison guard is among three people facing charges of conspiring to smuggle 25 mobile phones into San Quentin State Prison in Marin County.

Keith Christopher, 37, of Pittsburg, and 32-year-old Isaiah Wells, of Tracy, appeared in federal court Wednesday in San Francisco to face charges of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud using interstate wires.

A third person in the scheme — 45-year-old Tanisa Smith-Symes, of Las Vegas, Nevada — was set to appear in federal court Thursday in Las Vegas.

Their appearances were reported In a news release issued Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

Christopher, a corrections officer at San Quentin, is accused of conspiring with the co-defendants to smuggle mobile phones into the prison’s east block, which houses condemned prisoners. The accusations include that Smith-Symes was in a relationship with a prisoner and shipped mobile phones to Wells to give to Christopher, who smuggled them into the prison.

Mobile phones are considered contraband by state law.

The trio are accused of smuggling at least 25 mobile phones inside the prison block to prisoners, who paid up to $900 each. Prosecutors allege that Christopher’s take was $500 per phone.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Christopher and Wells were released on bond and are scheduled to next appear in federal court on Sept. 17.

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