Guard Pleads Not Guilty to Bringing Drugs Into Prison

Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

White River Junction — A correctional officer at Southern State Correctional Facility has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he brought drugs into the Springfield, Vt., prison last year and gave them to an inmate.

Nathaniel Clark, 24, of Fitzwilliam, N.H., answered to four charges in Windsor Superior Court during his arraignment on Tuesday. Judge Robert Gerety released Clark on conditions.

Clark stands charged with a felony-level count of drug delivery, as well as misdemeanor charges of transporting a drug into a detention center, possession of drugs and neglect of duty by a public officer.

Police allege he brought buprenorphine, a painkiller, into the prison between Nov. 25 and Nov. 27, 2017, according to court documents and an affidavit written by Vermont State Police Detective Daniel Bennett.

In March, prison officials reached out to State Police and indicated that Correctional Officer Kenneth Swain reviewed recordings of telephone calls made by inmate Patrick Levi DeBonville, and that those conversations led him “to believe that buprenorphine … was potentially being transported into the correctional facility.”

On Nov. 25, DeBonville placed several calls and talked about giving someone “something” and money. During some of the conversations, the name “Nate” came up, the affidavit states.

Authorities eventually reviewed text messages between DeBonville’s girlfriend and Clark. The woman and Clark allegedly met up at some point, and she gave Clark the drugs and the money to bring to the prison, according to the affidavit.

On Nov. 26, a correctional officer questioned Clark about why he was in a unit of the prison where he wasn’t assigned, the affidavit states. That unit is where DeBonville and a cellmate reside. That correctional officer brought his concerns to prison officials, who provided police with Clark’s cellphone number. That number matched the number that had text exchanges with the woman.

Also on Nov. 26, the woman texted Clark and asked “...are you bringing that to them?” and Clark responded with, “Yep, I’m at work so I’ll take care of it don’t worry about it.”

DeBonville failed a drug test on Nov. 27; his urine test came back positive for buprenorphine. His cellmate passed the drug test because DeBonville said he put a mixture he had made into the test cup, the affidavit states.

DeBonville told investigators that he owed his cellmate money and that he would “make good on his debit” by having his girlfriend give “strips” of the drug to a correctional officer to bring in, according to the affidavit.

Clark declined to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the drug exchange, the affidavit states. Brian Marsicovetere, who is representing Clark, declined to comment. The case is being prosecuted by Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.