When D.C. jail Correctional Officer Nathaniel T. Slayton Jr. was buying crack cocaine last year from a Southeast Washington drug dealer, he had more to offer than money. Using his access to recently arrested inmates, Slayton relayed information on how police drug raids had taken place.

Drug dealer Deitrick M. McCoy considered Slayton's information credible enough to pay him for it. McCoy regularly sold crack to Slayton at a discounted price and, on one occasion, gave Slayton free crack and $500 cash, according to Edward Sussman, Slayton's attorney in a criminal drug case last year.

Slayton, a crack user who had worked in the jail for seven years, knew that nervous dealers were eager for any intelligence that might help them stay one step ahead of the police. His conversations with inmates gave him enough information to pretend he had inside sources at the police department, Sussman said.

Slayton, 38, is serving a five-year prison term for a drug conviction arising from an FBI sting operation last year.

An FBI agent posing as a New York drug dealer sought Slayton's advice on how to set up a drug distribution network in Washington. Slayton boasted on videotape that he could warn her about possible police raids because of his "unique" position as a correctional officer and his extensive police contacts.

Slayton met three times with the undercover agent. A videotape of their third meeting, recorded on Sept. 21 in a room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at 400 New Jersey Ave. NW, shows Slayton going into the bathroom to test the agent's crack cocaine. Slayton is then shown making a partial payment of $200, promising to pay $550 later, for an ounce of crack with an estimated street value of $3,000. He was arrested as he left the room.

The FBI operation was aimed at exposing Slayton's alleged police sources, which agents had heard about through a tip. Only after Slayton's arrest did it become clear that he had no such contacts. He told FBI agents that his information came from inmates, who described to him the circumstances of their arrests -- where they had been arrested, who they thought had tipped off the police and which undercover police officers had arrested them, according to FBI agent Christopher A. Kerr.

"He'd weave things he'd learn {from inmates} to make it look like he knew more than he knew," Sussman said. "That was part of his scam."

On Nov. 7, Slayton pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Slayton's credibility with McCoy was substantially boosted when he accurately predicted an imminent police raid on McCoy's operation in April 1989. After talking to an inmate and observing a van with a special antenna parked near McCoy's operation, Slayton warned McCoy that police officers were about to raid his headquarters at 1395 Congress St. SE, according to Sussman and court records.

"He just figured that {the men in the van} were cops," Sussman said.

McCoy took Slayton's warning seriously and moved his operation "for about 12 hours," Sussman said. "Nothing happened. So they went back in and within a very short time after that, they did get busted!"

McCoy pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges earlier this year and is serving an 18-month sentence.

Kerr declined to discuss the raid, which was carried out by D.C. police, except to say that Slayton's warning, the shutdown of the drug operation, the move back into the Congress Street house, and the police raid all took place "within a 24-hour period."

Kerr also said Slayton used his position at the jail to provide one other service: "special treatment" for some inmates incarcerated on drug charges. Kerr said Slayton provided them with cigarettes and carried messages to drug dealers in the street.

"That was one of the things" that made Slayton valuable, Kerr said.

Although Slayton was charged with the intent to sell the cocaine he bought from the undercover agent, Sussman said, selling drugs "was never Slayton's primary focus. His primary focus was getting high . . . he was just another addict who was broke and trying to get drugs."