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Bribery charges threaten integrity of Maryland federal courts

A former contractor for the federal court system in Maryland has been accused of taking bribes from defendants to provide inaccurate urine test results, tampering with witnesses and lying to a grand jury. The woman's former co-worker recently pleaded guilty to similar charges.

According to prosecutors, the Rockville woman and her co-worker, of Forestville, engaged in a bribery scheme while they were employed by a company that gave urine tests for the for U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services to people who had been charged or convicted of federal crimes in Maryland.

The company also provided "discharge" certificates to defendants who completed drug, alcohol and mental health treatment.

In his plea agreement, the 43 co-worker admitted to agreeing to bribes on more than 100 occasions, for which he received more than $10,000. The man, who is scheduled to be sentenced in December, could face up to 15 years in prison.

The 50-year-old woman, who was a senior counselor who also supervised drug tests, faces a maximum of five years for the bribery charge and each of the three counts of making false statements. She also faces up to 20 years for each of the two counts of witness tampering.

According to the male co-worker's testimony, the woman no longer worked for the company when she introduced him to people who had paid her bribes. He was then paid $50 per test by people who wanted to avoid drug testing.

The federal indictment states the pair also received $400 for supplying fake "discharge" certificates. It also accuses the woman of instructing the male co-worker to lie when they were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in June.

Potentially corrupt drug testing could spell major trouble for Maryland's federal court system. As one retired U.S. District Court judge explained: "Reliable drug testing is the backbone of the system judges have to rely on when they do sentencing."

Source: The Washington Post, "Former contractors for Maryland federal court system indicted in bribery scheme," Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 23, 2012

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