Trial date set for prison guard charged with intent to deliver drugs

Officer pleads not guilty

PORT ANGELES — A November trial date has been set for a corrections officer charged with planning to bring drugs into Clallam Bay Corrections Center for distribution in a case that suggests other prison staff were involved.

Alfonso Estrriba Cofone, 37, of Port Angeles pleaded not guilty to felony charges Friday.

The maximum penalty for the crimes Cofone allegedly committed, including special allegations, is 30 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

Cofone had a Nov. 16 trial date set Friday at his Clallam County Superior Court hearing. A status hearing is set for Oct. 15.

The state Department of Corrections has placed him on leave without pay pending the outcome of the case, DOC spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie said Friday.

Cofone was charged at the hearing with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and Suboxone, each with special charges alleging he was armed with a firearm and that he committed the crimes within 1,000 feet of a school zone.

He, his wife, and their 3- and 10-year-old children live across the street from a preschool.

When Cofone was arrested Tuesday, 61 grams of methamphetamine dividable for sale into 0.1-gram quantities, 215 Suboxone strips and two firearms were found at his apartment, according to the probable cause statement written by Clallam County sheriff’s Detective Jim Pickrell.

Cofone was apprehended following an investigation by the DOC that included recorded phone conversations from the prison, according to the statement.

Cofone posted $10,000 bail last Wednesday.

He was first questioned by DOC investigator Conrad Artis and an FBI agent after arriving at work last Tuesday afternoon, admitting he planned to smuggle drugs into the prison, according to the statement

Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team detectives were present.

A suspected inmate said in a letter found in Cofone’s Honda Civic that Cofone would be paid $5,000 for bringing the drugs into the maximum-security facility.

The suspected inmate “referenced a possibility that other staff members may be involved in this smuggling operation,” according to the probable cause statement.

The DOC declined to comment on the implications of the letter.

“The Clallam Bay Corrections Center is cooperating with the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team and other law enforcement to investigate any and all tips regarding illegal activity at the facility,” Guthrie said in an email.

After Cofone admitted drugs and $2,300 in cash were in his car at his residence, that he had a handgun when he obtained drugs in Tukwila, that the handgun and an AR-15-style rifle were at his apartment, and he had a burner phone at his apartment, Cofone was released by Artis and the FBI agent, the statement said.

Pickrell and OPNET Sgt. Josh Powless were driving back to Port Angeles following the interview with Cofone when Powless decided there was probable cause for Cofone’s arrest, “and that it would be a safety hazard to allow Cofone to return to his address with the guns inside because we were going to serve a search warrant there,” according to the probable cause statement.

“Cafone was stopped and detained on [state] Highway 112 by a Clallam County sheriff’s deputy,” the probable cause statement said.

After the search warrant was served on Cofone’s apartment, the guns were found in his home and drugs and cash in a red duffel bag in the trunk of Cofone’s vehicle, according to the statement.

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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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