Ammar Harris, a self-proclaimed pimp who is facing trial in a Strip shooting that killed three people, has been charged along with six other people in a scheme to get smartphones into High Desert State Prison.
Harris is serving time in prison after he was convicted on sexual assault and robbery charges.
The Nevada Attorney General’s office said Thursday that cellular phones and other contraband were discovered inside Harris’ prison cell May 13.
Among those charged includes former Correctional Officer Derland Blake, who allegedly smuggled the phones and other items into High Desert State Prison to Harris and another inmate, according to the Nevada Attorney General’s office.
Authorities said Harris sent $2,000 to “an associate,” Amy Colon, who wired the money to Charmain Simmons, the mother of fellow inmate Derrick McKnight. Simmons slipped the cash to Reann Gadson, who bought two Verizon Wireless phones and handed them off to Olga Gonzalez, state prosecutors said.
Gadson and Gonzalez then met with Blake, who allegedly smuggled the phones and other items to the inmates, investigators with the attorney general’s office said.
After the phones were found in Harris’ cell, he was moved to Ely State Prison, Nevada’s highest security prison.
Blake was placed on administrative leave May 22.
The defendants each face multiple felony and gross misdemeanor charges.
Harris, 28, and McKnight, 35, face possession of a portable telecommunications device by a state prisoner, bribery of a public officer and conspiracy charges.
Blake, 30, of North Las Vegas, faces furnishing a portable telecommunications device to state prisoner, asking or receiving a bribe by a public officer, misconduct by public officer and conspiracy charges.
Colon, 35, of Atlanta; Gadson, 33, of Las Vegas; Gonzalez, 27, of Las Vegas; and Simons, 53, of Las Vegas, each face multiple counts, including furnishing a portable telecommunications device to a state prisoner and conspiracy.
Prison officials found two Verizon Wireless phones, chargers and manuals in Harris’ High Desert cell and learned that the phones had been activated five days prior at a Wal-Mart on East Serene Avenue, prosecutors said.
A social media account tied to Harris has remained active since his arrest last year, posting updates about his address and inmate information at High Desert and Ely prisons.
The Twitter account, @NY, was linked to Harris before his arrest in the 2013 fatal shooting on the Strip.
On May 13, the day the phones were discovered, the account Tweeted: “My only truth is I”ll (sic) die real.” Another Tweet followed a day later: “S/O to @Power88_LV, if it weren’t for them I’ll bug out in this prison.”
The account’s most recent Tweet came Aug. 5, reading simply “Canimus Surdis” — Latin for “We sing to the deaf.”
Harris is facing the death penalty if convicted of murder charges in the February 2013 shooting on the Strip that left three people dead. He is slated for trial on Sept. 8, but his lawyer Robert Langford said Thursday the trial will likely be delayed because of the new allegations.
Langford said he did not know whether Harris actually sent Tweets from prison. “I don’t think that just because it’s been linked to him in the past that it actually came from him,” he said.
In the death penalty case, Harris is accused of shooting reputed pimp Kenneth “Kenny” Clutch Cherry, Jr. as the two drove separate vehicles on the Strip early Feb. 21, 2013.
Cherry then crashed his car into a taxi, which burst into flames, killing the driver, Michael Boldon, and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund of Maple Valley, Wash.
Contact reporter David Ferrara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker.