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Investigators Probe Ohio Paroles-For-Sale Scam

After receiving a tip from an unidentified informant in June of 1997, Ohio prison officials uncovered evidence of a parole-for-pay scam. While screening prisoner mail, officials read a letter from Grafton Correctional Institution prisoner Bubba Shumate addressed to Lynn Moore, a former Grafton prisoner who was paroled in 1997 and reimprisoned five months later on a parole violation.

"You said a year ago that this thing would cost me 5 grand," Shumate wrote Moore, who was then serving a two-year sentence at the Lorain Correctional Institution (directly across the road from Grafton). "A year later... it will cost me 5 grand more. What's up with that?

Prosecutors say Moore and his friend, Willie Ray Patton of Cleveland Heights, are at the center of an alleged parole-for-pay enterprise, which consists of at least eight Ohio prisoners or prisoner family members, believed to be responsible for bribing an unnamed state employee.

Prosecutors filed hundreds of pages of letters and documents in Lorian County Common Pleas Court that they will use to show that Moore, 44, and Patton, 51, would find out when Ohio prisoners were eligible for parole hearings and then solicit money to arrange for their releases.

The two were indicted in September, 1999, on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery and complicity to escape. None of the other prisoners or family members were named or indicted. Harold Miller, an Ohio parole board hearing officer was "mentioned" in the indictment but not charged.

Shumate had his daughter pay $5,000, but was not paroled until two years later. When Shumate became upset about the delay, he wanted answers. Moore wrote back to him and blamed Patton.

"Hey, old dude, I went to Ray [Patton] today, and we had a long talk," Moore wrote to Shumate, 63. "And I think he has gotten the proper understanding. He has the letter, and he's going to the lawyer with it."

County prosecutors said they were investigating whether "the lawyer", a man they think helped arrange the paroles, is Miller. Prison officials said that Miller, 62, has a law degree, but declined to comment on his possible involvement in the scheme.

Miller was placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the state's investigation. On March 29, 2000, Miller was arrested and charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and five counts of bribery. He is free on $10,000 bond.

Miller, in an interview with state investigators, denied playing a role in any illegal activities. But in court records filed in the case, prosecutors say that Miller made 140 phone calls to Patton over a three month period in 1996.

Sources: Lorain Morning Journal, Cleveland Plain Dealer

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