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Jail guard from Portage took bribes to deliver contraband to Cook County inmates

Updated: November 9, 2013 6:16AM



With 16 years service as jail guard at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Tony Henderson knows better than most what life behind bars looks like.

Now, he’s going to get a fresh perspective — as an inmate of federal prison.

Henderson, 51, of Portage, Ind., was sentenced to two years in prison Monday for smuggling cigarettes and food into the downtown MCC in return for hefty cash bribes.

The guard delivered the contraband to inmates after their relatives dropped $5,000 to $10,000 in bribes through a gap in the window of Henderson’s parked Mercedes-Benz.

Prosecutors suspect he also offered to deliver cocaine and cell phones to inmates — though they couldn’t prove that.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Parente said even smuggled tobacco and food presented a serious security risk inside the jail.

The contraband created an illicit black market between prisoner where unpaid debts were likely to be settled with violence, while Henderson’s corruption left him open to blackmail from “cunning” inmates, endangering his colleagues and undermining efforts to reform detainees, Parente said.

Defending Henderson, attorney John Legutki said Henderson served honorably for 21 years with the U.S. Army and National Guard, and was likely to be “targeted” in prison because of his past.

But Judge Edmond Chang said Henderson should have known the risks he was taking. Ordering Henderson to pay a $5,000 fine in addition to the two-year sentence, Chang said Henderson had committed a “very serious breach of the public trust in a highly sensitive situation.”

Henderson, who declined the chance to address the court, showed no emotion as he was sentenced.



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