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November 21, 2014

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Suspect in Strip shooting, guard charged in prison phone-smuggling case

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Steve Marcus

Ammar Harris, the suspect in the Feb. 21 Las Vegas Strip shooting and car crash that killed three people, appears in court at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

Seven charged in connection with a prison cell phone plot

Charmaine Simons. Launch slideshow »

Seven people, including a former prison guard, have been charged in connection with contraband cellphones found in the cell of an inmate awaiting trial in a deadly Las Vegas Strip shooting and crash, the Nevada attorney general said today.

The phones were found in the cell of Ammar Harris at the High Desert State Prison around May 13 after the Inspector General’s Office of the Nevada Department of Corrections launched an investigation, officials said.

Harris, 28, of Las Vegas, was charged with two counts of possession of a portable telecommunications device by a state prisoner, bribery of a public officer and conspiracy in connection with the phones.

Officials determined Harris gave $2,000 to Amy Colon of Atlanta, who then gave the money to Charmaine Simmons, the mother of inmate Derrick McKnight, who also was involved in the scheme, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.

Simmons gave the money to Reann Gadson, a Las Vegas woman, who used the money to buy two cellphones for Olga Gonzalez, the news release said.

Gadson and Gonzalez then gave the phones to Derland Blake, a former correctional officer who was employed at High Desert State Prison at the time of the incident, authorities said.

Harris, serving a sentence of 16 years to life for sexual assault and robbery, also faces three charges of first-degree murder and one charge of attempted murder in the Feb. 21, 2013, shooting and crash on the Strip.

According to Metro Police reports and court records, Harris got into an argument with a man at a casino and shot at the man’s car on the Strip. The other man, Kenneth Cherry Jr., lost control and hit a cab, which exploded in flames, authorities said.

Cherry died, as did cab driver Michael Boldon, 62, and Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, of Maple Valley, Wash., who was a passenger in the cab. Freddy Walters, a passenger in Cherry’s car, was shot but survived.

Those accused in the phone-smuggling case face the following charges:

• Derland Blake, 30, of North Las Vegas, three counts of furnishing a portable telecommunications device to a state prisoner, three counts of asking or receiving a bribe by a public officer, misconduct by public officer and conspiracy.

• Amy Colon, 35, of Atlanta, furnishing a portable telecommunications device to a state prisoner, bribery of a public officer and conspiracy.

• Reann Gadson, 33, of Las Vegas, two counts of furnishing a portable telecommunications device to a state prisoner, bribery of a public officer and conspiracy.

• Olga Gonzalez, 27, of Las Vegas, three counts of furnishing a portable telecommunications device to a state prisoner, two counts of bribery of a public officer and conspiracy.

• Derrick McKnight, 35, of Las Vegas, possession of a portable telecommunications device by a state prisoner, bribery of a public officer and conspiracy.

• Charmaine Simmons, 53, of Las Vegas, two counts of furnishing a portable telecommunications device to a state prisoner and conspiracy.

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