2 sentenced for smuggled dental molds, diamond grill

Judge Gavel Court

A California corrections officer and an inmate were sentenced for their roles in smuggling a dental mold and gold and diamond grill into prison, according to a press release dated April 24 from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California.

Shawn Brown, 28, who was serving time at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, CA, for first-degree murder, was sentenced in U.S. court to 30 months in prison for reportedly bribing state corrections officer Benito Jamar Hugie to sneak contraband into the prison, according to the release.

Hugie, 49, who purportedly helped Brown obtain the bejeweled grill, was sentenced in March to 24 months in prison. He is out on bond and must surrender to prison on May 6.

"Diamonds are not always your friend," U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath said in the release. "These schemes have cost Brown years of his life and Hugie his career and good name. Maybe regular teeth would have been a better option."

In November 2023, Hugie, of San Diego, pleaded guilty to smuggling the grill into the prison in October 2020 and delivering the tooth jewelry to Brown, who used a smuggled cellphone to custom order it from a jeweler in Texas. Brown took a plea agreement and admitted that he paid more than $30,000 to Hugie to acquire the grill and smuggle the contraband into the prison, according to the release.

During his sentencing hearing, Brown was ordered to surrender the grill to the government. He opposed the request, claiming he couldn't remove the grill because it was glued to his teeth. However, surveillance video from the jail showed Brown putting the grill in his mouth and taking it back out.

Additionally, Brown was given a consecutive sentence of 48 months for reportedly using his contraband cellphone to coordinate filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits from the state. The COVID-19-related $1.4 million fraud scheme resulted in cash payouts of more than $695,000 to Brown and his co-conspirators, according to the release.

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