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Correctional officer accused of smuggling tobacco

POSTED February 11, 2011 8:51 p.m.

A guard at the John Latorraca Correctional facility in Merced was taken into custody Wednesday morning on allegations he was smuggling contraband into the jail.

Anthony Sodini, 27, was booked into the Merced County Jail around 1 a.m. Wednesday on 10 misdemeanor charges of bringing tobacco into the jail and conspiracy to commit a crime, said Merced County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Dep. Tom MacKenzie.

Sodini has been employed as a correctional officer for five years.

“It is regrettable when one of our own makes bad life choices and crosses a line that he or she has sworn to uphold, but I want the public to know that we will not treat it differently than any other criminal investigation and he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Sheriff Mark Pazin said.

The investigation into Sodini was launched after the sheriff’s department developed information regarding his alleged illegal activities. Agents with the Merced Mariposa High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force conducted the investigation, which culminated with Sodini’s arrest at the jail facility, MacKenzie said.

“The motivation for the crime is still under investigation, as well as what was brought in and for how long it had been occurring,” MacKenzie said. “The investigation is still ongoing but does not appear as if there are any other employees involved in the incident.”

Sodini has been placed on paid administrative leave for the remainder of the investigation, as per Merced County policy, MacKenzie said.

Sodini is out of custody after posting the $7,500 bail. He is scheduled for an arraignment in Merced County Superior Court on March 8.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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