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News in Brief
Antigua: A fire started by prisoners at the centuries-old Her Majesty's Prison in St. John, capital of the former British colony, sent 17 people to a hospital with minor injuries on Jan. 28, 1999.
AZ : On Feb. 18, 1999 charges against three former prisoners accused of plotting to kill Arizona prison director Terry Stewart were dismissed after the state's main witness, Carlos Velez, refused to cooperate. Velez had previously claimed that John Alday, Michael Garcia and Raymond Llamas planned to murder Stewart in retaliation for a crackdown on prison gangs. The story made national headlines in Dec. 1998.
Brazil: More than 100 prisoners escaped in two jailbreaks during New Year's Eve celebrations. Sixty-three prisoners broke out of a Sao Paulo prison after armed men surprised police guarding the facility, and 43 escaped from a prison in Rio de Janeiro amid the neighborhood's New Year's party.
Brazil: Six prisoners at a maximum-security facility in southern Brazil were killed in a shootout during a riot and failed escape attempt in Feb. 1999. The early-morning revolt began when armed prisoners took control of exits at the prison.
CA : Ironwood State Prison guard Richard Melendez, 28, was arrested in December 1998 for smuggling drugs into the facility. His arrest follows those of New Folsom guard Michael Laurin for buying a pound of marijuana from prisoners' relatives, and San Quentin guard April Reynolds, who was caught bringing heroim into the prison with intent to sell. Two cooks at San Quentin, Sherwood Coleman and Daniel O'Callaghan, also face drug-related charges.
CA : Suspended Ventura Co. Superior Court Judge Robert Bradley was released from the county jail on Dec. 2, 1998 after serving four months of a six-month sentence for repeated probation violations following two DUI convictions.
CA: Two guards at the High Desert State Prison were arraigned Jan. 11, 1999 on felony charges. Larry J. Cole, 44, a captain, and David Davey, 34, a sergeant, are accused of filing false reports in connection with the commission or investigation of a crime committed at the facility. The district attorney's office and prison officials declined to elaborate.
CT: On March 18, 1999 Garner Correctional Institution prisoner John Barletta, 28, told police he killed his cellmate of less than one day because the man sat on and used the toilet in their tiny two-man cell while Barletta was eating a soup and crackers. State Police say the enraged Barletta strangled Kenneth Briggaman and then yelled at guards to "get this dead m***f*** out of my cell!"
FL: A Seminole County jail detainee who was taken to a hospital to give birth on Jan. 28, 1999 disconnected three IVs and escaped when the deputy guarding her left to go to the bathroom. Angela Kay Patton, 26, was captured a short time later about three blocks away; she was still wearing a hospital gown and a baby-monitoring device.
FL: An assistant state prosecutor accused of spitting on and assaulting a motorist during a road rage incident resigned from office on Jan. 22, 1999. Michael John Walker, 32, denied the allegations but said he wanted to spare the State Attorney's Office embarrassment.
FL: In Jan. 1999 Avon Park Corr. Institution guard Patricia A. Sanders, 23, was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation; she had been arrested after buying marijuana from an undercover officer at a mall parking lot. Former Hardee Co. Corr. Institution guard Charles H. McQuien, 25, was sentenced to five years followed by ten years probation after pleading no contest to a reduced charge of trafficking in 200 to 400 grams of cocaine.
FL: On Dec. 21, 1998 former Osceola Co. jail guard Greg Wilson was convicted of manslaughter in the March 1997 beating death of prisoner Daniel Sagers. Wilson, one of several guards who had restrained Sagers, was the only one to go to trial; two other guards plead guilty to lesser offences. Sagers' family received a $2.2 million settlement from the county.
IN: Former South Bend sheriff's deputies Michael Sawdon and Erich Dieter were indicted Feb. 12, 1999 on civil rights violations stemming from the 1997 death of prisoner Christopher Moreland at the St. Joseph County jail. Sawdon and Dieter were charged after Moreland died of a blow to the head after being pepper-sprayed and placed in a restraint chair.
KS: Shelly D. Finch, a former guard at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth, was court-martialed in Feb. 1999 and sentenced to 54 months for having repeated sexual encounters with prisoner Joey Villareal, using LSD while on duty, and accepting bribes to smuggle in contraband. Two other guards at the Disciplinary Barracks, Jennifer A. Herring and Jeremy K. Hackenbush, were court-martialed on adultery charges for having sex in a guard tower.
LA: On Jan. 7, 1999 former Angola prison warden C. Murray Henderson, 78, was sentenced to 50 years without parole for shooting his wife five times in August 1997. Henderson, who served as warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary from 1968 through 1975 and later headed the Tenn. Dept. of Correction, was convicted of attempted second-degree murder after a jury rejected his insanity defense.
MD: Four prison guards were fired from the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup on Feb. 21, 1999 after failing drug tests. Another guard resigned after refusing to be tested.
Mexico: A dozen guards are being questioned by government authorities investigating three separate prison escapes on Dec. 30, 1998. State attorney general Eduardo Montoya blamed negligence or possible complicity by the guards. Two prisoners broke out of a jail in Simojovel, 9 escaped during a prison riot in Playas de Catazaja, and 5 walked out of a prison in Ocosingo.
NH: Henri Tallard unsuccessfully argued that his 10- to 30-year sentence for attacking a county jail guard was too harsh. The state supreme court ruled in Dec. 1998 that people who assault jail guards deserve the same sentences they would receive had they assaulted police officers.
NJ: A former Deputy Attorney General who won a sexual harassment suit against the state has tried to kill herself a second time. Former prosecutor Barbara A. Davis, 44, overdosed on Dilantin on Jan. 27, 1999; she previously had slashed her wrists. A jury awarded Davis $70,000 in August 1998 after finding a colleague had sexually harassed her for four years and superiors had ignored her complaints. The state has appealed the verdict.
NY: Lance Gaston, 17, was found dead in a protective custody cell at Rikers Island on Jan. 3, 1999. Investigators say Gaston may have been the victim of asphyxiation or strangulation, which would make his death the first homicide at Rikers Island since 1993.
NY: On Jan. 21, 1999 a former guard at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan was convicted of narcotics trafficking and taking bribes. Roy Thomas, 36, offered to collect debts for a convicted drug dealer incarcerated at the facility in exchange for $2,000 in cash and a Honda Accord.
OH: On March 12, 1999, former Southern Ohio Correctional Facility guards Richard Forrest, 48, and Dana Rolf, 31, were convicted of misdemeanor charges for beating SOCF prisoner Allen Jefferson in October, 1998. Forrest, who was fired from his prison job, was fined $200 plus court costs, ordered to complete an anger-management course, and perform 50 hours of community service. Rolfe, who resigned from his prison job, was fined $50 plus court costs, given a 90-day suspended jail sentence and placed on probation for two years.
OH: On March 12, 1999, Ohio state prison guard Mallory D. Peterson, 33, was arrested and charged with two felony counts of sexual battery against female prisoners at the Franklin Pre-Release Center in Columbus. Peterson had worked for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for five years.
OH: Orient Corr. Institution guard Michelle L. Richardson, 28, was arrested Feb. 1, 1999 on forgery charges for obtaining a fake state identification card. Richardson used the card to visit James DeJarnette, a prisoner incarcerated at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown; DeJarnette had previously spent three years at the Orient facility.
OH: Ranson Staley, a minimum-security prisoner at the Madison Corr. Institution, walked away from a prison work crew on Jan. 7, 1999 to elope with childhood friend Becky S. Wolfe. Staley was serving a 7-15 year sentence for shooting his wife in the head four times after a divorce hearing; she survived and they are still married. Wolfe is married to a guard at another prison.
OH: Lebanon Corr. Institution guard James Earl Smith was arrested Jan. 22, 1999 after police said he accepted $250 to deliver a package of marijuana intended for a prisoner. The Lebanon facility had the state's worst institutional drug abuse record in 1998, with 5.8% of all urine samples testing positive for illegal drugs.
PA: On Dec. 23, 1998 Common Pleas Judge Rayford A. Means sentenced convicted car thief John Trinchillo to 4-8 years in prison and ordered him to spend 500 hours helping the police and insurance companies find new ways to catch other car thieves. The judge also imposed 49 years probation to "keep a sword" over Trinchillo's head.
PA: On January 28, 1999 a former SCI Greene prison guard pleaded no contest to three counts of sexually assaulting teen-age boys. State police said John Williams Roberts, 47, lured the boys to his home with offers to teach them karate. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 11 to 23 months.
South Africa: On April 1, 1999, South Africa's highest court ruled that prisoners should be allowed to vote in national elections. The Constitutional Court's decision meant that officials had to design and implement provisions for the country's 146,000 prisoners to register and vote in the June 2 elections.
TX: In Jan. 1999, Fort Worth murder defendant Robert William Greer, Jr. agreed to plead guilty provided the judge would keep him in the local jail for two weeks before transferring him to the state prison system so he would be assured of watching the Super Bowl. Greer looked forward to seeing his favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, go all the way.
WA: On March 11, 1999, Clark County Superior Court Judge James Ladley ruled that there was not enough evidence that sex offender Manuel Escobedo, 39, would commit future sex crimes, and dismissed the state's petition to civilly commit Escobedo. After 3 1/2 days of evidence in a nonjury trial, Ladley said he "didn't know" if Escobedo would commit further crimes. It was the first time since Washington State's sexually violent predator law was implemented in 1990 that a trial resulted in dismissal of the state's petition.
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