Bust of Deputy Keith McPhee Serves as a "What Not to Do" for Crooked Jail Guards

There's a great jail scene in Goodfellas that shows the mobsters living it up in the can, eating an Italian feast brought in by the guards in cases. The narrator explains how they managed to smoke cigars and eat lobsters: "We lived alone. We owned the joint. Even the hacks we didn't bribe wouldn't rat on the ones who did."

Apparently things aren't so easy in real life. Or at least they aren't anymore in the Broward County Jail, where guard Keith McPhee stands accused of sneaking in contraband for inmates. McPhee's case hints at the excesses wealthy inmates can get, but it also serves as a warning for guards looking to make some side dough.

So here, then, are the simple rules jail guards ought to learn from McPhee's bust.

Find a Gangster-Like Exchange Spot
McPhee met inmates' girlfriends in the parking lot of the main jail to make the exchanges, the Broward Sheriff's Office claims in an arrest warrant. He'd take things like pot, Gatorade, batteries, a cell phone, and photos of an inmate's girlfriend in a bikini. He got $600 per shipment. He instructed one inmate's baby mama to look for his white Chevy Silverado in the jail parking lot. Anybody who's ever been in a jail (I was just visiting) knows the place is jacked on surveillance, and a guard ought to know he's probably on videotape as he pockets the bikini photo. The solution isn't hard: Get yourself a nice, dark alley.

Look for Inmates With a No-Snitching Policy

McPhee found himself on the wrong side of jail cell bars after a simple shakedown. Guards found a cell phone on an inmate, and when asked about it, the inmate fingered McPhee. The con even offered up his baby mama, who allegedly picked McPhee from a photo lineup. Fellow inmates are supposed to hate a rat, so a bit of poking around could have protected McPhee from getting mixed up with someone who would flip. Start by looking for "stop snitching" tattoos.

Buy a Burner
Any casual fan of HBO's The Wire knows that all good crooks use disposable track phones. McPhee, meanwhile, texted an inmate's girlfriend to arrange details of the exchange, the warrant claims. He even asked if the inmate needed a charger for the phone. Savvy dirty cops would instead head to the ghetto cellular store and buy an untraceable phone with just enough minutes for the day's exchange. Then, feel free to text away to the bikini-wearing baby mama.

Get a Quality Alias
McPhee didn't get too creative with his drop-off exchanges -- he simply wanted the girlfriends to call him "Mr. Brown," according to the warrant. This isn't a necessary step to the dirty jail guard routine, but come on, get creative with your alias. Jail themes are encouraged. Mr. Lockdown, perhaps. Or Señor Lightsout. Although McPhee does earn points for dropping a "Mr." in front of his alias. Very gentlemanly.

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Eric Barton
Contact: Eric Barton