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Former Officer Sentenced for Trying to Smuggle Drugs into Bucks Prison

December 28, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Thomas Gannon, 215.348.6461, tcgannon@buckscounty.org

A former Bucks County corrections officer has been sent to prison for trying to smuggle drugs into the county prison two summers ago.

John Christopher Dingle was sentenced Dec. 16 to serve six to 23 months, followed by two years of consecutive probation, for agreeing to slip suboxone into the Bucks County Correctional Facility in return for $500. He also received four years of concurrent probation for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

Judge Rea B. Boylan additionally fined Dingle $2,500, calling it “five times the amount he was willing, indeed, to sell his honor for.”

Dingle, 36, had pleaded guilty on Oct. 24. He cast his crime as a one-time aberration, committed in a moment of weakness for an inmate who had helped him maintain order in the prison. That inmate, it turned out, was working as a confidential informant for detectives conducting a drug investigation at the prison.

The inmate asked him in June 2015 for “a favor,” Dingle said: to bring him strips of suboxone provided by the inmate’s girlfriend. The drug contains a synthetic opiate, and is often used to treat people with opioid addictions.

Dingle said he initially refused the request, but later relented.

The inmate told Dingle to send a text message to his girlfriend’s cell phone and arrange to receive the drugs from her. The message went to a phone that was being monitored by investigators.

On June 12, 2015, Dingle met with a narcotics officer who was posing as the inmate’s girlfriend in the parking lot of the Barn Plaza movie theater off Route 611 in Doylestown Township.

The undercover officer gave Dingle 16 strips of suboxone and $500 in prerecorded money. Dingle said in court that he concealed the strips in a package of chewing gum, which he said he knew would not be checked by security officers at the prison.

He was arrested minutes after the parking lot meeting, as he drove onto the prison grounds.

“When I think about it, I wish I could go back in time, which I can’t,” he told Boylan. “I should have just left that first `no’ at `no.’ I didn’t think about the consequences.”

About 15 relatives and friends attended the sentencing in support of Dingle, describing him as a religious, family man whose behavior was inexplicable. Some said, however, that the stress of his work had been weighing on Dingle, and that he was considering leaving and moving south with his family.

“We’ve suffered. We’re still suffering because of what he did,” said Dingle’s wife, Karen, with whom he has three children. “But he’s still an asset to me, and he’s an asset to our kids.”

Defense attorney Michael Parlow asked Boylan to sentence Dingle to probation, saying that he never would have tried bringing contraband into prison if not first approached by a police informant.

“Mr. Dingle has a felony on his record for the rest of his life,” and is remorseful, Parlow said. “We are asking the court to recognize who Mr. Dingle is as a person.”

Deputy District Attorney Thomas Gannon countered that Dingle held a position of authority and power at the time of his crime, and had been trained to report to his superiors any inappropriate requests from inmates.

His crime “cannot go unpunished. It cannot be met with leniency,” Gannon said. “He did this because he was greedy.”

Law enforcement officers “are expected to be the best of us,” Gannon continued. “Mr. Dingle has proven himself not to be worthy of that trust.”

Boylan said she was troubled the most by Dingle’s willingness to bring a controlled substance into the jail without regard for how it might be used.

“We don’t know what would have happened…” the judge said. “Even a good man, a kind man, has to learn where to set boundaries.”

Because of his former role at the prison, Boylan said that Dingle should be allowed to serve his sentence at a prison in another county.

The case was investigated by Bucks County Detective Timothy Carroll.

Approved for release by Daniel Sweeney, Deputy District Attorney.

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