USP Atwater correctional officer convicted in plot to bring pot, heroin into prison

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY GEORGE MACDONALD The United States Penitentiary in Atwater.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY GEORGE MACDONALD The United States Penitentiary in Atwater. Merced Sun-Star

An ex-correctional officer at U.S. Penitentiary Atwater is facing 20 years in prison after being convicted this week by a federal jury of conspiring to bring marijuana and heroin into the prison.

David G. Bruce II, 32, of Merced, had plotted with inmates and people outside USP Atwater to bring the drugs into the prison between May and December 2015.

He also received at least $1,580 as payment, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of California.

Scott’s spokesperson Lauren Horwood said Bruce was a correctional officer whose assignment was cook foreman.

James K. Cheng, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s Los Angeles Field Office, said in the release that the integrity and honesty of correctional officers is “critical to the safety” of federal prisons.

“Our office strives to ensure that individuals who fail to uphold those values, like David Bruce, will be held accountable for their actions,” Cheng said.

Bruce had tried to meet up on Dec. 15, 2015 with someone he thought was bringing him drugs to be smuggled into the prison. Instead, was met by federal agents, authorities said.

Jurors convicted Bruce on Tuesday of three counts. Those included conspiracy to provide inmates with prohibited objects, attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and bribery, according to court documents.

Court documents revealed that in addition to heroin and marijuana, Bruce had conspired to smuggle the prescription drug Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid addiction, into the prison.

As part of his sentence, Bruce also faces a $1 million fine for possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute.