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News in Brief

Brazil: More than 40 prisoners escaped from a jail in Sao Paulo on August 15, 1999 after twenty men overpowered, beat and tied up the guards and unlocked the cell doors. A shoot-out with police left one of the jailhouse liberators dead.

CA: A July 10, 1999 brawl at the Pritchess Detention Center in Saugus that involved 50 prisoners left 12 with minor cuts and bruises.

CA: Stan Blondek, 35, a staff psychologist at a California Youth Authority facility in Stockton, was fired and jailed in Sept. 1999 for introducing biased testimony on behalf of a convicted rapist and murderer. Blondek was found in contempt of court for providing only some of the documents related to the mental condition of prisoner Donald Schmidt, 27, during a parole hearing. Blondek admitted on cross-examination that he was not licensed by the state and that his degrees were earned from a correspondence school.

CA: Veteran state prison guard Dennis Leroy Armstrong, 48, charged with having sex with female prisoners at the Northern California Women's Facility in Stockton, pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors on Aug. 10, 1999. By entering into a plea agreement he avoided the maximum penalty of one year in jail. He was sentenced to probation and 160 days community service.

CT: A female prisoner being transported in a sheriff's van on Aug. 18, 1999 claimed she was raped after four male prisoners tore down a metal partition in the vehicle to sexually assault her. "These things happen in this type of business," said New Haven Co. High Sheriff Frank J. Kinney III. The two deputies who were driving the van remain on duty.

FL: On August 25, 1999, five prisoners were charged with assaulting guards at the Jasper state prison during a July 3 fight. The brawl began when prisoner Charles Jerry attacked guard Damon McLeod on a recreation yard. Six guards were injured, including Samantha Hart, 21, who was seven to nine weeks pregnant and later had a miscarriage.

France: On July 28, 1999, the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, condemned France for torture in the case of a Moroccan man who claimed he was sexually assaulted, kicked and beaten with a baseball bat while in police custody. French authorities were ordered to pay $81,000 in damages and $18,300 in legal costs to Ahmed Selmouni. Four police officers were convicted in connection with the Nov. 1991 incident and received suspended sentences.

NY: Warith Habib Abdul was freed in Sept. 1999 after serving 17 years on a wrongful rape conviction. He was cleared by DNA tests and ordered released by a federal court. His lawyer cited improper police tactics that included prompting the victim to identify Abdul months after the rape when she was initially unable to do so.

OH: Anthony Burton, a guard at the Cleveland City Jail, was charged with felonious assault on July 26, 1999 for scalding a prisoner with a hot liquid. City officials said Burton threw a bag of garbage and an unidentified hot liquid on prisoner Maxwell Arthur, who was taken to a hospital with first- and second-degree burns over 22 percent of his body. Burton was suspended with pay.

OH: Former Cuyahoga County jail guard Donnelly C. Varner, 45, was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison on July 23, 1999. Varner had been recruited as a courier in a drug operation run by former jail prisoner Joseph Adams, who had met Varner while incarcerated. During an investigation by the FBI, Varner was observed accepting two kilos of cocaine from one of Adams' suppliers. Varner was fired after being charged in July 1998.

PA: Pittsburgh District Justice Gigi Sullivan, 38, was indicted on October 22, 1999 on charges that she shot heroin, snorted cocaine and abused prescription drugs in her chambers before hearing cases. She is also accused of dismissing charges against her supplier, Donald Geraci, in exchange for drugs.

RI: Former state prisoner Allen Johnson won a $275,000 jury award on Oct. 7, 1999; he had sued the DOC and a prison guard for failing to protect him from a 1994 attack that left him disfigured. Johnson claimed that the guard had allowed prisoner Jeffrey Link to carry out the assault.

TN: Former Cheatam County jailer Jeffrey Tomlin, 29, was indicted in October 1999 on 5 counts of official oppression and 5 counts of official misconduct. He is accused of allowing prisoners to fight in the jail and sometimes escorting prisoners to other locations in the facility so they could brawl.

VA: On August 22, 1999, a guard at the newly-opened supermax Red Onion State Prison was stabbed about eight times while delivering lunch trays. Jackie A. McCarty was attacked by prisoner Lamont Douglas, 24, who was then shot twice with rubber pellets by a guard in a gun port. Douglas was later charged with malicious wounding.

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