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Husband charged with getting contraband for Somerset inmates after wife tipped off authorities

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

State corrections officials were tipped last fall that a guard at SCI Somerset was smuggling contraband to inmates when his wife grew suspicious about his late-night texting and numerous packages arriving to the couple's home, according to court documents.

The guard, Donald Lynch, 35, of 15774 Oak Drive, Fort Louden in Franklin County, was arraigned Tuesday before Somerset District Judge Ken Johnson on three counts of procuring contraband for inmates and another count of criminal use of a communication facility.

The investigation of Lynch, who was fired last week, began in October when Lynch's wife, Marjorie, telephoned the prison, asking whether her husband was working a special “security” detail investigating smuggling of contraband to inmates.

After Marjorie Lynch was told her husband, a guard at the prison since June 2010, was not involved in any such detail, she agreed to assist in the investigation of her husband, said Michael Konidas, a criminal investigator with the state Department of Corrections.

Konidas wrote in an affidavit of probable cause that Marjorie Lynch told authorities that she was suspicious her husband was involved with “bringing contraband into the prison for an inmate.”

Konidas said that Lynch mentioned to his wife in July that he could make “easy money.”

“(Lynch) explained that an inmate told him he could make $2,000 if he brought drugs into the prison,” Marjorie Lynch told authorities, according to the affidavit.

Within a month of her husband's declaration, Marjorie Lynch told investigators, her husband suddenly began texting late at night, and various packages — many with addresses of origin in Philadelphia — began arriving at the couple's home.

On one occasion, Marjorie Lynch said her husband opened a small package that contained “between 12-20 small plastic squeeze bottles containing a pungent and fragrant odor, a $100 prepaid VISA card, three tennis balls in a cylindrical can and a package of practice plastic golf balls.”

When Marjorie Lynch questioned her husband, he told her that he was now working a security detail at the prison and the package was related to the investigation, she reported.

Marjorie Lynch told authorities she later found “six suspicious letters and eight notes in her husband's car and clothing that were obviously associated with inmates,” according to the affidavit of probable cause.

The letters all were addressed to “Boss Man” and “referenced the introduction of contraband to include Muslim oil, pornographic magazines and drugs,” Konidas wrote.

Marjorie Lynch turned over copies of the various notes and photographs of the suspicious items to state investigators, according to the affidavit.

The notes usually instructed Lynch to “check his PayPal account,” or would mention “prepaid VISA gift cards.”

In November, Donald Lynch consented to a search of his 2003 Chevrolet Impala when he arrived at the prison for work and officers discovered marijuana residue, according to the affidavit.

“Hidden under the dashboard was a white business envelope that contained approximately 19 handwritten notes addressed to “Boss Man” in which the author claimed that his people are waiting...,” it said.

Authorities reported they discovered a TracFone beneath the driver's seat that contained numerous telephone numbers, later “determined to be associated with six SCI Somerset inmates.”

Konidas reported several inmates admitted paying Lynch to deliver contraband.

One inmate, Michael Farrell, told corrections investigators that Lynch told him his wife “went nuts once” when a package arrived at the guard's house that contained tennis balls and she smelled marijuana in them.

None of the inmates has been charged to date.

Donald Lynch could not be reached for comment. He was released on recognizance bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 7 before Johnson.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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