CMC guard gets 30 days in jail for taking money from inmates

Correctional officer who just transferred to the prison pleads no contest to single count of accepting a bribe

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comAugust 24, 2013 

A CMC prison guard was sentenced to 30 days in jail this month for accepting bribes from inmates at the prison.

Kevin Jon Venema, 50, a 28-year correctional officer, had recently transferred to California Men’s Colony from Tracy in September when he was confronted by CMC’s internal affairs with allegations of selling tobacco and cellphones to inmates. At the time, he had three bags of tobacco in his lunchbox and six cellphones hidden inside his protective vest. He also had a container with several prescription drugs.

A search of his vehicle revealed 24 rounds of .38-caliber bullets, a machete, an altered protective vest and several pocketknives.

Venema said he’d received a total of $2,400 cash in exchange for the cellphones.

According to a probation report, he told the prison’s internal affairs he was desperate for money after going through two divorces and being ordered to pay child support, adding, “Don’t ever let yourselves fall victim to this like I did.”

He resigned from his job as a correctional officer.

Venema later told probation officers he’d gone through a “dark period,” which involved a divorce, stress over financial issues and a 10-year-old daughter’s battle with leukemia.

An Air Force veteran, he had no history of criminal activity. As a guard, he said he had been injured in riots, suffered concussions and at one point had a hit taken out on him by a prison gang.

At the time of his arrest, he had a home in Stanislaus County.

Initially charged with three felonies, he pleaded no contest to one count of accepting a bribe as a correctional officer. His sentence included three years of probation.

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