U.S. Attorney Henry E. Hudson in Alexandria complained yesterday that the D.C. police department is thwarting efforts to step up interdiction of drug smuggling into Lorton Reformatory by failing to implement an agreement assigning 10 police officers to the District-run facility.
Details of the agreement, which would place a full-time Lorton detail at the prison in southern Fairfax County during visiting hours, were completed in August after eight months of negotiations with Assistant D.C. Police Chief Isaac M. Fulwood Jr., Hudson said.
Since then, "we haven't heard a damn thing from them," Hudson said, despite repeated requests for follow-through on the agreement, which has not been signed by all the parties. Hudson said Fulwood did not return phone calls the prosecutor placed to him twice in the last two months.
"Obviously I'm frustrated by the police department's refusal to respond to a final decision in light of the fact that so much time and effort went into reaching an agreement which appears to embrace every problem cited by the police department," said Hudson, whose office is responsible for prosecuting criminal offenses that occur at Lorton.
"With the increasing problem of controlled substances and reports we have they are entering the institution down there, the need for an effective program, to me, has reached a point of urgency," he added. "Since Lorton is a District institution, I felt it incumbent upon the D.C. police department to do its share to create an effective drug interdiction program."
Fulwood responded yesterday: "First off, we don't have an agreement with them. The hangup . . . and Hudson knows this, is that we have a crisis situation in the District with drugs and drug-related violence.
"We have said we would be willing" to send officers to Lorton "if they would be willing to reimburse us" for overtime, Fulwood said. "They have not agreed to reimburse," he said, adding that primary responsibility for law enforcement at Lorton lies with the FBI.
"If the FBI can't do it because it's not a priority for them, how can we do it? We're not a bottomless pit."
Asked if he had not returned recent phone calls from Hudson, Fulwood said: "What I told Hudson is . . . 'There's not a lot for us to say unless you agree to reimburse.' " When that is done, Fulwood said, "we're ready to move."
"If that's the impediment, they've never told us," Hudson replied. He said his understanding was that District police officials dropped their demand for reimbursement during the negotiations on the agreement.
Currently, D.C. corrections officers at Lorton are responsible for confiscating contraband drugs from visitors. But, untrained in drug enforcement, they lack the skills to run an effective smuggling block, Hudson said.
"We need people trained and skilled in drug interdiction, searches and the processing of resulting evidence," Hudson said, citing instances of inmates snatching drugs from visitors and hiding before guards can determine their identities.
According to Hudson, 82 visitors to Lorton were found in possession of illegal drugs in the last six months. He estimates officials are intercepting about one-third of the drugs flowing into the prison.
Hudson said D.C. Corporation Counsel Frederick D. Cooke Jr. has been helpful, assigning two prosecutors to Hudson's office to assist on Lorton cases.
Under the proposed agreement, which Fulwood sent Hudson Aug. 11, D.C. police were to "assume responsibility for the detection and seizure of controlled substances from visitors" to Lorton, according to a copy of the memo provided by Hudson.
The D.C. Corrections Department, also a party to the agreement, was to be responsible for transporting arrested persons to jail, and the FBI, another signatory, would reimburse the District for the salaries, including overtime, of the 10 officers, according to the memo. In addition, the FBI agreed to provide five cars for use by the detail members.
Meanwhile yesterday, a federal magistrate in Alexandria found probable cause for cocaine trafficking charges placed last week against Lorton guard Willie James Nicholson Jr., 37, of the District. A 15-year employee of the Corrections Department, he was arrested Feb. 23 as he arrived for work at the prison's minimum-security facility. Eight packets of cocaine, valued at about $1,500 and hidden in a candy wrapper, were seized at the arrest, according to testimony yesterday.