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Philly woman convicted for sneaking narcotics into prison for her son to sell to his fellow inmates for profit

Media, PA – Today Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland announced that Janette Ortiz, 52, of the 2800 block of N. 3rd Street in Philadelphia, was found guilty of drug distribution and contraband charges for sneaking Suboxone into the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Chester to her son, inmate Julio Ortiz, which he thereafter sold to other prison inmates in exchange for money.

Following a jury trial before Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge John P. Capuzzi, Sr., Janette Ortiz was found guilty of contraband, delivery of a controlled substance and criminal use of communication facility, all felony charges. The jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes before delivering a verdict on July 13, 2018. The offense of contraband carries a 2-year mandatory minimum term of incarceration. Janette Ortiz has two previous convictions for delivery of a controlled substance.

On behalf of the Commonwealth, the case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michael H. Hill and investigated by Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Agent Darryl Bradley, Agent Jeffrey Theobald, Sergeant Jose Soto, and Corrections Officer Lorie Eason, all of whom testified at trial.

On February 9, 2017, an investigative prison cell search was conducted at SCI Chester which housed inmate Julio Ortiz. During the search, 13 strips of Suboxone, a Schedule III drug, were discovered inside the inmate’s headphones. During an interview with investigators, inmate Julio Ortiz admitted that he and his mother, Janette Ortiz, worked together to bring Suboxone into the prison to sell for profit to other inmates. During an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, it was determined that on February 5, 2017, the defendant, Janette Ortiz, concealed 20 strips of Suboxone and entered the secure perimeter of the institution to visit her son, inmate Julio Ortiz. During the visit, the defendant surreptitiously handed the Suboxone to her son, who then swallowed the package of narcotics. Upon entering his prison cell, inmate Ortiz regurgitated the package of Suboxone, which he then concealed in his headphones and later sold some of them to other SCI Chester inmates. He sold the full strips of Suboxone for $50 and 1/10 pieces for $10. Inmate Ortiz was then paid for the sale of the drugs by family members and friends of the inmates, and the funds were transferred to his mother, Janette Ortiz.

“Bringing drugs into a state correctional facility is a serious felony offense and those who attempt to do so in Delaware County will be arrested and prosecuted,” said Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland. “In the case of Janette Ortiz, under the guise of a motherly visit, she capitalized on her son’s incarceration, and preyed upon his fellow inmates’ weakness and addiction to opioids for her own selfish profit. I would like to commend Assistant District Attorney Michael H. Hill for his outstanding efforts to bring this conviction against Ms. Ortiz and commend the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for their investigative efforts that led to the apprehension of this individual.”

OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
DELAWARE COUNTY COURTHOUSE
MEDIA, PENNSYLVANIA 19063
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610-891-4161

KATAYOUN M. COPELAND, DISTRICT ATTORNEY
JOSEPH A. RYAN, CHIEF OF DETECTIVES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: July 20, 2018
CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris, 610.891.4252