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Consultant gets probation in prison drug program scam

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A prison consultant has been sentenced to two years of probation for helping federal inmates lie their way into a prison drug treatment program to reduce their sentences.

Constance Moerland, of Hudsonville, Michigan, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut. She pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge in May.

Federal prosecutors in Connecticut say Moreland and fellow Michigan residents Tony Pham and Samuel Copenhaver, both of Grand Rapids, helped convicts with no alcohol or drug problems get into the Residential Drug Abuse Program, which can knock up to a year off a prison sentence.

Authorities say the three consultants coached convicts to show up to prison intoxicated and fake withdrawal symptoms.

Pham and Copenhaver have pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges.

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