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News in Brief

AL: In December 2000, Montgomery jail guard Eileen Mayfield was accused of coercing five male prisoners into giving her sexual favors in exchange for candy, snacks and cigarettes.

Brazil: On April 12, 2001, 368 prisoners at the Carumbe prison in Cuiaba took 150 visiting family members hostage to demand the firing of abusive prison guards. The uprising ended on April 15, 2001, with the killing by other prisoners, of the uprisings six-prisoner leaders.

Brazil: On April 14, 2001, 150 prisoners escaped from a Sao Paulo prison and carjacked dozens of cars to make good their escape into rush hour traffic. The escapees exchanged gunfire with police and took at least one guard hostage. At least a dozen escapees were recaptured the same day.

CA: On April 19, 2001, federal prosecutors indicted 13 alleged members of the Nuestra Familia prison gang and charged them with murder, robbery, conspiracy and drug related crimes. The indictments end a three-year, $5 million undercover investigation into the NF by federal law enforcement officials. Prosecutors claim five defendants who are already in prison, orchestrated 5 murders between March 1997, and April 1999. The indicted are: Rico Garcia, Ceasar Ramirez, Henry Cervantes, Jacob Enriquez, Vidal Fabela, David Rocha and Diana Vasquez. The Pelican Bay prisoners who were indicted are: James Morado, Cornelio Tristan, Gerald Rubalcaba, Sheldon Villanueva, Tex Hernandez and Daniel Perez.

Columbia: On May 3, 2001, Herbert Villafane, a major cocaine trafficker escaped from a maximum security prison near Medellin by hiding inside a sofa made by the faculty's prison industries program. The escape was a major embarrassment to the Columbian government since Villafane was due to be extradited to the US in a few weeks to face drug smuggling charges. The warden, his assistant, and 80 guards were fired for allowing the escape to occur.

FL: Tyrone Osbourne, 31, attempted to escape from prison by forging a court order that said his 2 life sentences, plus 55-year sentence, had been reduced with his release date being in May 2001. Osbourne's scheme unraveled when Broward county prosecutor Howard Scheinberg, received a victim notification letter informing him of Osbourne's pending release. When Osbourne was sentenced for attempted murder in 1989 he told Scheinberg "When I'm out, you're dead." Scheinberg's inquiries revealed that Osbourne's petition for a sentence reduction had been denied. Osbourne now faces attempted escape charges.

MO: The state of Missouri has attempted to civilly commit one female "sexually violent predator," Angela Coffel. Coffel was previously convicted of performing oral sex on two boys, ages 11 and 14, when she was 17. The state is spending at least $215,720 to keep Coffel confined in a mental hospital wing where she is the lone occupant and which has 11 guards. Coffel is HIV positive and claims that is why prosecutors are seeking to civilly commit her.

NM: On April 12, 2001, Santa Fe county jail guard Lawrence Candelaria, 43, was charged in federal court with accepting a $3,000 bribe to allow federal jail prisoners Luis Ramon Lopez, Vicente Tijerina and Rodolfo Ruiz Godinez to escape the jail. Prosecutors claim Candelaria sold the prisoners a hacksaw, hacksaw blades, a hammer and a metal punch to cut and pound their way to freedom. Candelario also let the prisoners use his cellphone to arrange their April 7, 2001, escape and created diversions to assist them. Candelaria is charged with aiding and abetting an escape.

NM: On March 23, 2001, Albuquerque jail guard Joe Miera, 36, was charged with smuggling contraband into the jail, conspiracy charges and tampering with evidence. Miera had agreed to deliver two heroin filled burritos to jail prisoners Mario Gomez, 21, and Jeffrey Padilla, 29. Apparently Miera had second thoughts about the plan because he gave one of the burritos to another guard who bit into it and promptly discovered the heroin.

NY: In February 2001, the New York Times reported the investment success story of Michael Mathie, a prisoner at the Elmira Correctional Facility. After winning $450,000 in a lawsuit after he was raped by the chief of jail security at the Suffolk County jail, see: Mathie v. Fries, 121 F.3d 808 (2nd Cir. 1997)[PLN, Apr. 1998], Mathie invested $75,000 of that in stocks. He has done spectacularly well on the stock market, in 1999 his gross adjusted income was almost $900,000. With his stock earnings Mathie has purchased homes and cars for his family members and subsidized various prisoner related activities.

NY: On April 12, 2001, 60 prisoners at the Elmira Correctional Facility got into a brawl that left three prisoners stabbed and several others with minor injuries. Guards eventually halted the disturbance using tear gas. Prison officials said 48 prisoners had been identified as participants in the incident.

NY: On April 23, 2001, Suffolk county sheriff Patrick Mahoney, 58, and his top deputy, Edward Morris, pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Mahoney pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor sentences of allowing his jail office to be used as a political headquarters and two counts of giving out "special deputy badges" to political supporters. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped 52 corruption charges against him. Mahoney was sentenced to a $3,000 fine and $18,000 in restitution. He also stays in office. Morris pleaded guilty to a felony charge of defrauding the government and four misdemeanor corruption charges. Morris was sentenced to a $10,000 fine and 1,000 hours of community service.

NY: On April 3, 2001, governor George Pataki implemented a rule prohibiting "notorious violent criminals" from displaying their artwork at the state sponsored "Corrections on Canvas' art show that has been a staple in the state legislature for 35 years. Serial killer Arthur Shawcross, who is a prolific artist, was apparently the source of Pataki's ire. Shawcross had previously been disciplined by prison officials for selling his artwork on the internet.

OK: On March 9, 2001, a Tulsa county jury convicted Lemuel Whiteside Jr., 27, of assault and battery stemming from his attack on prisoner David Cooley in the Tulsa jail. Whiteside had been employed by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which operates the jail, when the assault occurred. The same jury acquitted Whiteside of assaulting prisoners Bryant Strong and Tobin Lemmons. CCA fired Whiteside after the Cooley assault.

TX: At 4 am on January 30, 2001, between 125150 black and Hispanic prisoners at the Briscoe unit in Dilley brawled with each other for 2½ hours. No prison employees were injured and no prisoners were seriously injured. Guards used tear gas to subdue the brawlers after they refused orders to cease fighting. Prison officials gave no reason for the brawl, except to say it was not "gang related."

TX: On April 24, 2001, Tarrant county assistant District Attorney Stuart Oliphant was arrested by Ft. Worth police when he tried to buy Valium and Vicadin from a police informant. Police found cocaine on Oliphant when he was arrested. The prosecutor's office fired Oliphant after his arrest. For six years Oliphant prosecuted juvenile drug offenders.

TX: On March 10, 2001, Victoria county jail prisoners Harold Connally, 45, Rojerio Gallegos, 28 and Bernardo Segura, 40, escaped from the jail by crawling through an exhaust vent onto the jail roof and jumping to the ground from there. All three men were awaiting trial or parole revocation hearings on sex charges. Connally was recaptured the next day after police found a piece of paper he left with the phone number of the person he had called to pick him up from the jail.

WA: On May 3, 2001, Robert Giddings, 27, a prisoner at the Cedar Creek Corrections Center was struck by a van and killed. Giddings had been working on a highway litter crew contracted by the state Department of Transportation when the accident occurred.

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