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Inmate Strikes Plea Deal in Prison Drug Smuggling Case

Man persuaded prison laundry worker to smuggle drugs to him in exchange for cash bribes

HELENA — An inmate accused of smuggling drugs into Montana State Prison has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, the last of five defendants accused in the conspiracy to do so, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Under the deal, Ian Scott Barclay would plead guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute controlled substances and to giving bribes. In return, federal prosecutors would drop additional charges and recommend a more lenient sentence because Barclay is accepting responsibility.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $1 million fine, while the bribery charge has a 10-year maximum sentence and a $250,000 fine. A federal judge must approve the plea agreement.

Barclay is an inmate at the Deer Lodge prison. He persuaded prison laundry worker Erin Bernhardt to smuggle drugs to him in exchange for cash bribes, prosecutors said in charging documents.

A friend of Barclay’s named Cordero Metzker arranged to have two Tennessee women mail methamphetamine and a drug called Suboxone to Bernhardt between April and August 2015, the court documents said.

In the first transaction, Cordero sent one of the women, Rachel Ross of Collierville, $400 to buy Subuxone, according to prosecutors. Barclay pocketed between $4,000 and $5,000 after selling the drug, authorities said.

That exchange was repeated at least two times with methamphetamine, according to prosecutors, with Bernhardt receiving at least $1,000 in cash for her role.

Bernhardt and Ross pleaded guilty last week to charges related to the drug-smuggling operation. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.

The second Tennessee woman, Lauren Hoskins of Somerville, is scheduled to have a change of plea hearing on Sept. 19.

Metzker entered his guilty plea last month and is to be sentenced on Oct. 27.