As a Stillwater prison guard, Faith Rose Gratz had to help secure Minnesota's largest high-security prison. But one murder inmate knew her as "Bbygirl" and relied on her to help him distribute meth inside prison walls.
A federal grand jury this week indicted Gratz, 24, and inmate Axel Rene Kramer, 34, on federal drug conspiracy charges tied to an alleged scheme that ran from at least January through April of this year.
According to the indictment, Gratz helped smuggle in "wholesale quantities" of prepackaged methamphetamine for Kramer to distribute inside the prison on at least six occasions. She also brought him multiple cellphones and exchanged hundreds of text messages both related to drug distribution and their romantic relationship, according to charges.
Law enforcement discovered Gratz's involvement when officers seized Kramer's phone. Her number was saved as "Bbygirl" and the two discussed plans to marry once Kramer was scheduled to be released in March 2024.
Aaron Swanum, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, said Thursday that Gratz worked for the department from June 17, 2020, until May 3. Kramer has since been moved to the state's correctional facility in Oak Park Heights.
"These allegations are extremely troubling and are not indicative of the incredible work by our corrections staff to make our communities a safe place to live," Swanum said. "Smuggling drugs into a correctional facility presents a serious risk to staff and the incarcerated population. We thank investigators for their work."
Kramer was sentenced in June 2010 for the killing of 20-year-old Alberto Samilpa Jr., of Mankato. According to news reports, Samilpa was found shot at least four times in the head, stabbed in the neck and burned.
The federal charges filed late Wednesday expand on a pending state prosecution of Gratz that began in April. According to the indictment, Gratz helped Kramer and another unnamed co-conspirator operate a drug distribution network inside the prison. She picked up drug packages and used her role as a guard to smuggle the packages inside the prison.
Gratz allegedly tipped Kramer off on upcoming searches of inmates' cells to give him time to hide his drugs and cellphones. In April, law enforcement found a half-pound of methamphetamine in Gratz's car in the prison's employee parking lot on the day officers confronted her over her messages exchanged with Kramer.
Gratz is also being charged with one count of intent to distribute methamphetamine. Neither she nor Kramer has an attorney listed as representing them in this case. They have yet to be scheduled to make a first appearance in federal court on the new charges.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, this case is part of an ongoing investigation by the FBI, Bayport Police Department and Minnesota Department of Corrections.
The Stillwater prison holds more than 1,100 adult inmates. The 2018 killing of corrections officer Joseph Gomm by an inmate at the prison prompted new scrutiny over security operations at the facility. A legislative measure to appropriate $3 million to his estate stalled last year.