A prison inmate who claimed he was about to inherit $1 million conned an assistant warden and other prison employees into smuggling him liquor, Chinese takeout food and even a cellular phone.
Braxton L. Bumpers, who is serving an eight-year sentence for grand larceny, promised the employees at the maximum-security Southampton Correctional Center that he would reward them out of the bogus inheritance.Even though state prison officials figured out the scam almost immediately, Bumpers kept it going for two more months by telling an internal affairs officer he could uncover further corruption, The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported today.
Assistant Warden James C. Farrow has been suspended without pay pending an investigation, and criminal charges are being considered against several employees, said Secretary of Public Safety Jerry Kilgore.
It was the second recent report of an embarrassing security breach at a Virginia prison. In May, a loaded pistol was discovered in an inmate's typewriter after he had been executed. Prison officials are investigating whether the discovery was a hoax by the inmate's attorney.
The brazen, smooth-talking Bumpers, 27, has pulled similar scams before. While at the Newport News City Jail, he ran an investment business out of his cell, enlisting guards to place ads and make phone calls.
Police shut him down after Bumpers complained to jail officials that the guards were ripping him off. Two guards were fired.
"He's a phenomenon," said Bob Thomas, a used-car dealer who was duped by Bumpers nearly a decade ago. "In the back of your mind you know he's up to something wrong, but you can't help but to like him."
The recent scam was detailed in a March 1995 state police report obtained by The Virginian-Pilot.
In early 1994, Bumpers spread a rumor that his grandmother had willed him $1 million and asked Farrow for help in hiring a stockbroker and accountant.