Charles Manson follower arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle cellphone to cult leader in California prison

Craig Carlisle Hammond, 63, was arrested Sunday for allegedly trying to sneak a cellphone wristwatch past jail guards during one of his regular visits with the aging mass murderer

New York Daily News/March 26, 2013

A Charles Manson follower has been arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle a cellphone to the wild-eyed cult leader in a California prison.

Craig Carlisle Hammond, 63, was arrested Sunday for allegedly trying to sneak a cellphone wristwatch past jail guards and into the hands of the aging mass murderer during one of their regular visits, authorities with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

A jail spokeswoman declined to say where exactly the watch was found but said Hammond wasn't "innocently" wearing it on his wrist during his screening at Corcoran State Prison.

"It was contraband," spokeswoman Terry Thornton told the Daily News.

Hammond, who sports a long gray beard similar to Manson's and goes by the name Gray Wolf, was booked on two phone-related misdemeanors and a felony conspiracy charge.

The retiree originally from Iowa but now living in Corcoran was released a few hours later on $30,000 bail and faces possible jail time if convicted.

Manson, 78, has been caught with smuggled cellphones twice before, Thornton confirmed.

He called people in California, New Jersey and Florida with an LG flip phone found under his prison bunk in March 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Guards found another cellphone in his cell in January 2011.

The notorious Manson Family leader with a swastika carved in his forehead is behind bars for orchestrating a 1969 killing spree with the hope of starting an apocalyptic race war dubbed Helter Skelter.

His minions brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate - the 8 ½ months pregnant wife of movie director Roman Polanski - and four others in the couple's Southern California home that August.

The butchers used blood to scrawl "Pig" on the front door.

A day later, Manson rode along to the Los Angeles home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and ordered the innocent couple's slaying.

At trial, Manson was depicted as the messianic master of small army of young assassins.

He and three female followers were sentenced to death, but a 1972 California Supreme Court ruling briefly outlawed capital punishment in the state, and their sentences were changed to life with the possibility of parole.

Jail officials say cellphones like the ones smuggled to Manson can be a danger to civilians on the outside.

"Phones are a threat because there's ample evidence they're used to commit additional crimes – to coordinate escapes, run drug-trafficking operations, order hits, intimidate witnesses and extort," Thornton told The News. "It's a problem that we take very seriously," she said.

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