Massachusetts federal prison employee accused of accepting payments from inmate

A federal prison employee in Massachusetts is accused of accepting more than $90,000 in benefit payments and a $50,000 property loan from an ultra-high net worth inmate.

William Tidwell, 49, of Keene, N.H., a correctional counselor for the Bureau of Prisons assigned to Federal Medical Center Devens, has been charged with accepting payments from an inmate under his care, in violation of his duties as a public official.

Tidwell has also been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with lying to a bank about a loan he received from the inmate’s business associate, and forging the associate’s signature to support this false claim.

He has been employed by the Bureau of Prisons since 2000, and working at FMC Devens since 2008. Then in 2014, Tidwell began working as a correctional counselor at FMC Devens, so he was responsible for monitoring inmate work assignments, assigning inmate housing assignments, arranging inmate legal calls and coordinating prison visits for inmates.

One of the inmates for whom Tidwell served as a correctional counselor was Individual 1 — an ultra-high net worth individual who had been convicted on federal charges in another jurisdiction. The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that in 2018, Individual 1 directed a close friend and business associate (Individual 2) to wire $25,000 to Tidwell’s close family member.

Then a year later, Individual 1 directed thousands of dollars to Tidwell as part of a property management agreement — which used Individual 2 as the conduit through which payments were made to Tidwell.

In total, between 2019 and 2020, Tidwell allegedly received more than $65,000 in benefits as part of this property management agreement with Individuals 1 and 2.

Separately, Tidwell in 2020 allegedly tried to buy a home. In connection with seeking financing for the home purchase, Tidwell allegedly received a $50,000 loan from Individual 2.

Tidwell is also accused of making false statements to the bank in connection with his loan application, falsely telling the bank that the $50,000 was a gift from his employer. When the bank asked for written proof of this purported gift, Tidwell allegedly forged documents to support his earlier claim, including by unlawfully using Individual 2’s name and address, and forging Individual 2’s signature.

“Corrections officers are placed in a position of public trust,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy. “The vast majority of corrections officers carry out their duties with integrity and professionalism. They know that accepting payments from an inmate — as is alleged against Mr. Tidwell here — is a serious violation of that trust and a betrayal of the BOP’s mission to care for federal inmates in a safe and impartial manner.

“This office is committed to holding public officials accountable when they exploit their power or official position to enrich themselves and compromise the public interest,” Levy added.

Tidwell was charged in federal court in Boston with receipt of payments by a public official in violation of his official duties, making false statements to a bank, and identity theft. Tidwell will appear in federal court at a later date.


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