BOSTON – A Devens prison employee has been charged with accepting payments from a wealthy inmate under his care and lying to a bank about a loan he received from the inmate’s business associate.
The charges were announced in a press release issued from the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy on July 24.
William S. Tidwell, 49, of Keene, N.H., was charged in federal court in Boston with receipt of payments by a public official in violation of their official duties, making false statements to a bank, and identity theft.
was a correctional counselor for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) assigned to Federal Medical Center Devens (FMC Devens) – who
Tidwell worked for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) since 2000. In 2008, the BOP assigned Tidwell to Federal Medical Center Devens (FMC Devens). In around 2014, Tidwell began working as a correctional counselor at FMC Devens. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, this new role gave Tidwell “significant levels of contact with, and authority over, inmates.” Tidwell’s duties included: monitoring inmate work assignments, assigning inmate housing assignments, arranging inmate legal calls and coordinating prison visits for the inmates.
One of the inmates Tidwell oversaw was a “ultra-high net worth individual” whose name was not released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. It is alleged that starting in 2018, Tidwell received over $90,000 in benefits and a $50,000 property loan from the inmate and an associate of his.
In November 2018, the inmate allegedly told a business associate of his to wire $25,000 to one of Tidwell’s close family members. Then in 2019, Tidwell and the inmate entered into an agreement whereby the inmate would send thousands of dollars to Tidwell as part of a property management agreement. The inmates’ business associate was the conduit through which the payments were made to Tidwell, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. From 2019 to 2020, Tidwell allegedly received over $65,000 from this property management arrangement with the inmate and his associate.
“According to BOP’s rules and policies that govern the duties and conduct of its employees, employees may not receive any payments, gifts, or personal favors from inmates, give preferential treatment to any inmate in the performance of their duties, or engage in outside employment that conflicts with their duties,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the release.
In 2020, Tidwell is also alleged to have received $50,000 from the inmate’s business associate to finance the purchase of a home. After receipt of the loan, Tidwell misrepresented the origin of the loan to the bank, saying the $50,000 was a “gift from his employer.” According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, when the bank asked for written proof of this financial “gift,” Tidwell forged documents to support his claim by forging the inmate’s business associate’s signature as well as using the individual’s name and address.
“William Tidwell is alleged to have abused his authority and abandoned his duty after he befriended an inmate in his care and accepted tens of thousands of dollars from him,” said Christopher DiMenna, the acting special agent in charge of FBI’s Boston division. “Today’s arrest underscores the importance the criminal justice system places on policing its own. Make no mistake, the FBI will continue to work with our partners to root out public corruption wherever it may lie because it not only undermines the integrity of our government but is a violation of the public’s trust.”
If convicted of receiving payments in violation of official duties, Tidwell could face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. If he is found guilty of making false statements to a bank, Tidwell could spend up to 30 years in prison and could be fined up to $1 million. The charge of identity theft provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
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