Smuggled Pot 

Posted on Sat, Mar. 27, 2004  

Prison employee may have smuggled pot


A psychiatric technician at Salinas Valley State Prison is accused of smuggling marijuana onto prison grounds.

Nathan Claire was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly took marijuana into the Soledad prison, said Edward Caden, acting warden. Claire was also arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and receiving stolen property.

Claire, who is in his 40s, was investigated by the Salinas Valley State Prison Investigative Services Unit, the Department of Corrections Office of Internal Affairs, the Monterey County District Attorney's Office and the Monterey County Sheriff's Office.

A search warrant was served on Claire's home and car on prison grounds, Caden said.

Caden said he isn't sure if Claire carried the marijuana into the prison to sell it.

"There is a strong indication that there may have been dealings with inmates," Caden said.

After the search warrant was served, Claire was booked into Monterey County Jail and resigned. A second prison employee who lived with Claire wasn't arrested but was also put on administrative leave without pay. He, too, later resigned.

Claire began working with the Department of Corrections in 1997 and moved to the Salinas Valley State Prison in 1999.

His duties included distributing medication to inmates, conducting individual assessments, facilitating group therapy with inmates and coordinating delivery of services between inmates and the psychiatry department.

Caden said drug-related crimes are bound to happen in any corrections agency or jail system.

The state Department of Corrections is currently under unprecedented scrutiny over allegations of brutality, cover-ups and other problems systemwide.

Caden, though, said Claire's arrest is another indication that the department is "committed to ensuring that employee misconduct is exposed and dealt with decisively."

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