- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A former Pennsylvania county jail counselor has been charged with extorting money and drugs from inmates in return for special privileges and has agreed to plead guilty.

Online federal court records show 52-year-old Louis Elmy, of Wilkes-Barre, was arrested Thursday, when a plea agreement calling for at least five years in prison was filed. He also faces a federal charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of selling crack cocaine.

The court did not immediately schedule a date for the guilty plea, and Elmy’s public defender didn’t return a message seeking comment Friday. But records show she and Elmy signed the plea agreement May 24, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Olshefski signed it Thursday.

Elmy was a work-release counselor in Luzerne County Correctional Facility in Wilkes-Barre. He also was once Wilkes-Barre Area School Board President and ran for Wilkes-Barre city council.

Federal prosecutors contend Elmy fudged official orders while working at the jail so he could extort “money and other items of value from work release inmates.”

In one instance, prosecutors said, Elmy extorted unspecified amounts of alcohol, drugs and money from an inmate in exchange for granting him work release at a real estate firm. On another occasion, an inmate paid Elmy up to $200 so the prisoner could remain free from jail beyond his scheduled work-release hours and for other privileges, prosecutors said.

Elmy allegedly created phony court orders by cutting and pasting judges’ signatures onto them from previous orders, then making photo copies so the orders appeared to be legal, prosecutors said. His alleged crimes occurred over a period from November 2013 and through February.

Elmy faces up to 20 years in prison for the extortion charge and up to life in prison for the drug-related firearms charge. The filed plea agreement does not include an agreed-upon sentence beyond the mandatory five-year minimum on the gun charge.

Elmy worked for the county nearly 20 years and has since resigned. He was a guard at the county lockup before becoming a work-release counselor.

James Larson, the interim head of the county’s correctional services department, said officials were continuing to cooperate with the investigation and will “make appropriate adjustments” to county jail policies in the wake of Elmy’s prosecution.

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