Dunbar Township woman pleads guilty to smuggling contraband to inmates
By Mary Pickels
Published: Saturday, July 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A Dunbar Township woman has pleaded guilty to smuggling cellphones, hair dye and other items into inmates at a state prison where she formerly worked.
Leann Cellurale, 36, entered into a plea bargain Wednesday on charges filed by state police in September.
Cellurale pleaded guilty to possession and possession with intent to deliver contraband and a charge of contraband of a telecommunication device before Fayette County Senior Judge Gerald R. Solomon.
Under the terms of the plea deal, she will serve a jail term of three to 23 months.
Cellurale worked in the dietary department of the State Correctional Institution at Fayette in Luzerne, where she provided inmates with forbidden items — marijuana, cellphones, hair dye, Muslim oil and incense, according to a criminal complaint.
Police said Cellurale hid the packages as she entered between Jan. 24, 2012, and July 17, 2012. An unidentified inmate turned over one package containing marijuana to prison personnel on July 17, according to the complaint.
Cellurale was in the process of entering into a similar plea bargain in May when she told Judge Nancy Vernon she was unaware some of the packages contained marijuana.
“I was sent packages that were supposed to contain Muslim oil,” Cellurale said. “I can't say with 100 percent certainty it was marijuana. I was led to believe it was something else, and I was stupid enough to believe it.”
Vernon said she would allow her to plead no contest to the charges related to the marijuana. Such a plea is not an admission of guilt.
The hearing was nearly over when Cellurale tearfully apologized and told the judge she provided the items to inmates out of fear for her safety stemming from an earlier attack in the prison.
When Vernon asked Cellurale if she acted “under duress,” Cellurale responded, “Yes.”
Vernon rejected the plea.
Cellurale gave no details of the purported attack.
Prison spokeswoman Rhonda House said Cellurale is no longer employed at the prison.
House said inmates are not allowed to have hair dye because they could use it to change their appearance to escape. Muslim oil, a type of musk, is made available to them in controlled amounts during religious ceremonies, she said.
Cellurale is free on $30,000 bond as she awaits a date for sentencing before Solomon.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rural King Supply confirms store opening in Dunbar Township
- Connellsville FRIENDS hosting book sale Saturday
- City seeks to join regional enterprise zone
- Uniontown man acquitted of rape charge
- 2013 was a challenging year for Highlands Hospital
- Clinton Church of God to hold fish fries
- Perry Township over projected winter budget
- New name, new energy for Connellsville fitness studio
- Connellsville Ministerial Association kicks off Lenten luncheons
- Lemont Furnace man sought on drug charges
- Connellsville residents, business owners explore human rights panel