2 more charged in connection with meth smuggling ring at state prison now

Rachel Leanna Ross, 25, of Collierville, Tenn., and Lauren J. Hoskins, 26, of Somerville, Tenn., were arraigned in federal court Thursday on a six-count superseding indictment charging them with various drug distribution crimes. HELENA — Two more people have been charged as a result of an investigation into a drug smuggling ring at Montana State Prison.

Ross and Hoskins were the fourth and fifth defendants to be arraigned under the indictment. Three other defendants were arraigned on Tuesday, and an additional defendant was arraigned last month under a separate indictment. Both Ross and Hoskins were arraigned on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

From April to August last year, Ross and Hoskins, along with Ian Scott Barclay, 28, Cordero Robert Metzker and Erin Marie Bernhardt, 48, conspired to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and buprenophine at the state prison in Deer Lodge, according to court documents.

Barclay, a prisoner, had arranged with Bernhardt, a prison employee, to smuggle the drugs in, documents state. Metzker, Ross and Hoskins, under direction from Barclay, helped arrange for the meth to be delivered to Bernhardt’s home in Deer Lodge.

Bernhardt, who worked in the prison laundry, then smuggled the drugs into the prison and gave them to Barclay, documents state. Barclay then distributed the drugs to prisoners.

Bernhardt was paid $3,000 by other members of the smuggling ring, according to documents. Metzker, Ross and Hoskins collected the money from the distribution of meth and used it to bribe Bernhardt.

An additional 50 grams of meth was distributed through the jail between Aug. 9-14, 2015, court documents say.

Barclay pleaded not guilty on May 31 to conspiracy to two counts of possession with intent to distribute, distribution of methamphetamine and accepting and giving bribes. Metzker is charged with the same and pleaded not guilty. He is out on release while awaiting trial. He was incarcerated at the prison from December 2011 to August 2012 and is on probation for drug possession and distribution in Missoula and Gallatin counties.

Bernhardt was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, distribution of meth and accepting and giving bribes.

If convicted, each could face more than 100 years in prison and fines of over $15 million.

Court documents show Hoskins and Ross were arrested in Tennessee and are both out on $5,000 bond. They appeared in court here via video.

Court documents say Ross lives outside Memphis, Tenn., with her mother and suffers from Type 1 diabetes, anorexia and drug addiction. She was moving into a long-term residential treatment facility on May 31.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspector, the Montana Department of Corrections Investigations Division, Montana State Prison Warden Leroy Kirkegard and his staff, and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations.

Last month Martin Reap, a guard at the prison, denied charges he smuggled meth and marijuana into the prison from February 2015 until April this year.

A public information officer with the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday evening she wasn’t able to provide more information about the case.