Prison consultant pleads guilty in drug program scam

Crime
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A consultant who coached people convicted of federal crimes on how to minimize their prison time has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors say 48-year-old Samuel Copenhaver, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, had clients feign or exaggerate drug or alcohol problems to gain admission into a federal drug abuse treatment program.

Prison officials have long suspected abuse of the program , because inmates who successfully complete it can have the time they end up serving cut by up to a year.

Officials say the scam undermined the authority of the judicial system to administer fair and impactful sentences and diverted treatment from inmates who really needed it.

Copenhaver pleaded guilty on Thursday and faces up to 25 years in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled for Jan. 16, 2020.

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