Las Vegas Sun

November 24, 2014

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Bail set for former guard charged in prison phone-smuggling case

Derland Blake.

Derland Blake.

A Las Vegas judge today set bail at $50,000 for a former prison guard facing felony charges for allegedly smuggling cellphones into the cell of an inmate awaiting trial in a deadly Strip shooting and crash.

The judge also ordered house arrest if Derland Blake, 30, of North Las Vegas, is freed from jail while awaiting trial.

Blake is one of seven people charged in the scheme. He faces 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 a public officer and conspiracy.

At a hearing this morning in Las Vegas District Court, Judge Deborah Lippis told Blake that if he posts bail, he must show how he obtained the money to do so.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 3 to help Lippis determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Officials found contraband phones inside the cell of Ammar Harris on May 13 after the Inspector General’s Office of the Nevada Department of Corrections launched an investigation, state officials said. It is not clear what prompted the probe.

Officials determined Harris, 28, paid at least $2,000 to have the phones smuggled in. He was charged with two counts of possession of a portable telecommunications device by a state prisoner, bribery of a public officer and conspiracy.

Harris, serving a sentence of 16 years to life at High Desert State Prison 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 the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, the smuggling ring supplied a cell phone to at least one other inmate. Five other defendants face the following charges:

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

• Re​ann 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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