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Manson follower accused of trying to smuggle phone to cult leader

Posted at 9:16 PM, Mar 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-26 21:16:52-04

By Erica Hammond and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

(CNN) — A follower of Charles Manson accused of attempting to smuggle a cell phone to the notorious cult leader has been arrested, California prison officials said Tuesday.

Craig Hammond was allegedly caught with a wristwatch cell phone while being searched Sunday at Corcoran State Prison ahead of a planned visit with Manson, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections.

The 63-year-old Hammond was arrested on suspicion of attempting to bring a cell phone into a prison, conspiracy to commit a crime and unauthorized communication with an inmate, Thornton said.

Hammond was taken into custody by the King County Sheriff’s Department. He was later released on $30,000 bail, officials said.

Hammond visits regularly with Manson, telling CNN in 2009 that he moved close to Corcoran prison so he could be near the man he believes possesses deep insight into environmental issues.

Hammond told CNN he goes by Gray Wolf, a name he says was given to him by Manson — who was known to name members of his infamous “family” of followers in the 1960s.

Manson has twice been caught in possession of a cell phone in his prison cell: Once in 2009, when authorities found a phone under his bed, and again in 2011.

Manson was initially sentenced to death for the grisly 1969 slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight others by a group of his followers as part of what prosecutors said was an attempt to incite an apocalyptic race war during the country’s massive social unrest.

Manson’s death sentence was changed to life in prison after California’s death penalty was overturned for a period during the 1970s.

He has been denied parole 12 times.