Former corrections officer sentenced for attempting to smuggle drugs into prison

Man pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver

PORT ANGELES — A former state corrections officer who planned to smuggle methamphetamine and other drugs into Clallam Bay Corrections Center to help finance his cancer-stricken mother’s expenses was sentenced last week to 3½ years in custody, the third former officer sent to prison this year.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brent Basden sentenced Alfonso Estriba Cofone, 38, on Thursday to the 44 months agreed to in a plea deal between the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Cofone.

It was the top of the standard sentencing range for Cofone, who did not have a criminal record. The maximum sentence was 10 years.

The Port Angeles resident pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. His sentence includes 24 months for committing the crime while living within 1,000 feet of a preschool, the Mount Angeles View Headstart.

Cofone, arrested Aug. 18, stored the drugs at his home, according to the probable cause statement.

He obtained the methamphetamine, suboxone strips and marijuana oil in Tacoma the previous weekend and was getting $5,000 for bringing them into the prison, according to the probable cause statement.

“I just want to apologize for what I did,” Cofone told Basden, his voice trembling while also saying his children had suffered since his arrest.

“I only did it for my mom because she was sick with cancer,” Cofone said.

“I’m just asking for a little bit of mercy.”

Port Angeles lawyer John Black said his client had accepted responsibility for his actions and took issue with the sentencing enhancement that added two years to Cofone’s sentence and totaled more than the crime itself.

Cofone also will be under 12 months of community custody once released from prison.

While on $10,000 bail and living recently in California, Cofone and his mother were infected with COVID-19 and his mother-in-law died, Black said.

“It’s just been one thing after another for Mr. Cofone as far as just having life-changing events here,” Black said.

Basden said 44 months was appropriate given the crime and that Cofone had violated the trust that society put in him as a corrections officer.

“I don’t mean to suggest that maybe concern for a mother that’s ill isn’t a legitimate concern,” he said.

“It’s just an extremely illegitimate way to respond to that concern.

“You helped violate the law, particularly someone in your position, in an attempt to solve that problem.”

Recorded phone conversations between Cofone and a corrections center inmate indicated Cofone was planning the drug transaction, according to the probable cause statement.

On Aug. 18, Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team detectives were summoned to the maximum-security prison to assist an inspector who believed Cofone was smuggling drugs into the corrections center, according to the statement.

Cofone was arrested after being interviewed by the inspector and an FBI agent.

A letter in his vehicle from a suspected inmate said he would receive $3,000 up front and $2,000 when the drug transaction was completed.

“The letter also referenced other staff members may be involved in this smuggling operation,” according to the probable cause statement.

Black said Monday Cofone denied previously smuggling drugs into the prison.

Investigators later found a 9 mm handgun and an AR-15 rifle at Cofone’s residence and drugs in a duffel bag in his vehicle parked at the residence, according to the probable cause statement.

In the duffel bag were two plastic baggies containing more than 2 ounces of methamphetamine, 215 Suboxone strips, an eye dropper filled with suspected marijuana oil and $2,300 in cash in $100 and $20 bills.

“Due to recent fentanyl findings in local drugs, the suspected methamphetamine was not field tested,” according to the statement.

Cofone is the father of two children who were 3 and 10 when he was arrested.

Cofone was hired as a corrections officer Feb. 14, 2018, and resigned Sept. 14, Department of Corrections spokesperson Susan Biller said Friday in an email.

He is the third former Clallam Bay Corrections Center officer sentenced since February for felonies committed while each was employed at the prison.

Alexis R. Bustillos-Osuna, 32, of Port Angeles was sentenced April 19 to 12 years, five months for first-degree child molestation, four counts of first-degree possession of child pornography and one count of second-degree dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Longtime Corrections Officer John Russell Gray, 52, was sentenced Feb. 3 to one year, eight months in prison for committing four felony and gross misdemeanor sex offenses against four female Forks jail inmates after he was employed at the jail and working at the prison.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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