"My nerves, my nerves are shot," Chris Cafferky said, crying.
The former inmate says a single phone call sent him over the edge. The caller-- a man who used to control his freedom during lockup at the St. Johnsbury prison. Cafferky is on parole after serving one year behind bars for his third DUI.
"I can feel the panic as if he made the phone call right now," Cafferky said.
Cafferky says in February a prison guard he has identified as Travis Bartley called, wanting access to his prescription medication.
"He wanted me to get him testosterone," Cafferky said.
The 48-year-old was prescribed the hormone after steroid abuse depleted his body's natural levels. He claims the guard found out and targeted him.
"It made me feel like I was in jail," Cafferky said. "I have experienced enough to know that you don't tell a correctional officer no."
Cafferky secretly taped the transaction, knowing it was an ex-con's only hope for justice.
Reporter Jennifer Reading: Did he ever threaten you?
Chris Cafferky: No... When you see the door opened, that was all the threat I needed."
The 14-minute cellphone video-- released exclusively to WCAX News-- captures Bartley entering Cafferky's home in full uniform. The guard appears to pocket two vials and four hypodermic needles, and then offers to pay Cafferky.
Travis Bartley: So, do you get this regularly? Or is it...
Chris Cafferky: Um, do you want me to try to? I mean, if you want me to try to, I will.
Travis Bartley: Yeah, man. I mean, I guess I would be interested.
Travis Bartley: Chris, what do I owe you?
Chris Cafferky: You don't owe me a thing.
Travis Bartley: I want to give you something because I appreciate you going out of your way to help me out.
Chris Cafferky: You don't owe me a thing.
Jennifer Reading: Why didn't you take money from him?
Chris Cafferky: Because I'm not a steroids dealer... and I don't want to be one.
Jennifer Reading: Did you ever question not doing what he asked?
Chris Cafferky: Not at all.
Jennifer Reading: Why not?
Chris Cafferky: Fear... I am required to do anything, anytime, anywhere a correctional employee tells me to.
Cafferky says he waited to report the incident to his parole officer, paranoid that appeasing the guard would somehow put him back in prison.
"What he did was wrong," Cafferky said. "What he did was totally wrong."
"We have really low instances of abuses of power. It doesn't mean it doesn't ever happen," Vt. Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito said. "A corrections officer who's working in an institution should not be in a person-under-our-supervision's home."
Personnel rules prevent Pallito from confirming Bartley's identity. But he says there's no question the guard in the video crossed the line.
"To bring that uniform into a house sends a message where the power lies," Pallito said. "And then the fact that he was extorting him for whatever, it shifts it even more."
Pallito says when confronted with the allegations, the guard resigned. Vermont state police and prosecutors investigating the case say no laws were broken, but Pallito disagrees.
Jennifer Reading: Is it a criminal offense?
Andy Pallito: It's a criminal offense. It's a criminal offense.
Earlier in the week, state police and prosecutors refused to discuss the case on camera. But late Thursday afternoon, after details of our story started to emerge, the colonel of the Vermont State Police called to explain they cannot pursue criminal charges because testosterone is regulated federally, not on the state level. The colonel says sharing or selling the hormone is not illegal in Vermont.
Travis Bartley did not return our call.
The interaction on the video appears fairly friendly, but Cafferky claims he was trying to remain calm during the video recording so as not to tip off the corrections officer. Cafferky compared it to the feeling you get when a police officer pulls you over. You don't challenge or ask questions, you just do what the officer asks.
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