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News in Brief

News in Brief:

Argentina: On December 29, 2000, 11 political prisoners of the Movimiento Todos Por La Patria ended a hunger strike begun on September 6, 2000, after president Fernando de la Rua signed a decree reducing the prisoners' life sentences. The prisoners had been convicted of assaulting an army base in 1989 to forestall a military coup and were sentenced to life without parole or appeal. The courts and legislature had rejected the prisoners' petitions for clemency. De la Rua's order was enacted as an emergency decree due to the precarious state of the prisoner's health. The prisoners received extensive political support during their hunger strike. The sentence reduction should result in the prisoner's release within a year.

AZ: On December 27, 2000, prisoners Patrick Bradbury, 35, and Anthony Luzanilla, 31, escaped from the high tech maximum security Lewis Prison Complex near Buckeye. The men escaped that morning by hiding in garbage and being taken to a nearby landfill. They were recaptured that same evening, 9 hours later, hiding in an abandoned dairy farm. Earlier that month, the state auditor had praised the high tech security features at the two-year-old prison. Deputy prison director Charles Ryan blamed the escape on guards' not following security policies.

AZ: On July 31, 2000, Safford prison guards Patrick Lopez and Gilbert Garcia were charged with counterfeiting and distributing unauthorized access cards for DirectTV, a satellite television service. Prosecutors claim the guards created over 100 access cards on personal computers to allow access to 400 DirectTV channels. The cards were then sold, mostly to other DOC employees, for $400 each. The investigation also turned up a stolen All Terrain Vehicle, which resulted in an additional theft charge against Garcia. Both guards were fired by the AZ DOC.

CA: On April 2, 2001, an unidentified guard at the Los Angeles Men's Central jail was stabbed by Rogelio Macias, 34, with a plastic shank. The guard suffered minor injuries. Macias is serving a sentence of life without parole for murder. NE: In February, 2001, Neil Gray, 25, won $102,000 on PowerballThe Game Show. Gray is serving a 1½ _ 3 year sentence for assaulting a police officer at the Omaha Correctional Center. Gray bought the powerball scratch ticket before being imprisoned. Gray's father John, attended the game show and brought back his winnings.

CA: On January 25, 2001, fifty black and white prisoners engaged in a race riot in the prison-dining hall after ten black prisoners attacked a smaller group of white prisoners, apparently in retaliation for an earlier incident in which white prisoners used racial slurs against blacks. Nine prisoners were injured including two who were stabbed. Guards used pepper spray to break up the fight. The prison was placed on lockdown afterwards as prison officials investigated.

CA: On March 28, 2001, Del Norte county district attorney Robert Drossel announced he would file first degree murder charges against Jose Luis "Clever" Sanchez, for "setting up" a riot on February 23, 2000, between black and Hispanic prisoners that left one prisoner dead and 48 injured with knife and gunshot wounds. Prisoner Miguel Sanchez, 38, (no relation) was shot and killed by a guard, which Drossel said was justifiable homicide.

CA: On March 7, 2001, Saundra Ester, 50, a clerk at the state prison in Lancaster, was arrested on murder charges. Ester is accused of shooting and killing Kim Thomas in 1976 in Chicago. Thomas was apparently dating Ester's husband. Thomas identified Ester as her killer before dying. Ester fled Chicago and had been sought by Chicago police ever since. Ester had been a California Department of Corrections (CDC) employee since 1986 and her husband is a vocational instructor and her daughter is a clerk at the same Lancaster prison. When she applied for the CDC job Ester submitted someone else's fingerprints and has worked under the alias of Saundra Collins. CDC officials recognized Ester from a 1977 mugshot even though she had gained 100 pounds in the interim.

CA: On October 24, 2000, nine members of the Mexican Mafia were convicted of multiple racketeering and conspiracy charges after a five-month trial in federal court in Los Angeles. Prosecutors claimed the defendants taxed and organized drug trafficking in prisons and Latino neighborhoods. The convicted defendants are: Frank Fernandez, 53; Jimmy Sanchez, 41; Robert Cervantes, 35; Dominick Gonzalez, 23; Juan Garcia, 39; Roy Gavaldon, 43; David GonzalezContreras, 30; Sally Peters, 46 and Suzanne Schoenberg, 28.

CO: On January 31, 2001, the DOC announced plans to experiment with the use of anti depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft to quell sex offender's sexual appetites. The experiment is "voluntary", lasts a year and is funded by the federal government. Presumably if the drugs curb sex offender's sex drives a large government market will be open for the drug's manufacturers. A quarter of Colorado's 16,000 prisoners are sex offenders.

FL: On February 28, 2001, Palm Beach county sheriff's corporal Howard Berg Jr., 47, a jail guard, was arrested on charges of shoplifting $28.20 worth of merchandise from a local Walmart. Police claim Berg took a box of Preparation H, some pencils and other items from the store without paying.

FL: On November 28, 2000, David Pogue, 45, a parole officer with the Alachua county DOC, was arrested on six counts of armed robbery for robbing six local convenience stores of a total of $1,000. Pogue never wore a mask, was always armed and carried out the robberies during daylight hours, including robbing two stores twice. When arrested Pogue promptly confessed and said he was having money problems. Pogue's arrested history, while employed as a parole officer, includes an arrest for passing worthless checks in September 2000, and drunk driving convictions in 1996 and 1997.

KY: On March 4, 2001, Ronald Dwyer, 31, was arrested when he tried to smuggle cocaine to his wife Julie, 25, a prisoner in the Boone county jail in Burlington. During a routine search, guards found 14 grams of cocaine concealed in a poorly stitched brassiere Ronald was bringing his wife. Dwyer was charged with assorted felonies.

MA: On January 30, 2001, Peter Limone, 66, was released from state prison after serving 33 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In 1965 Limone was convicted of killing Edward Degan and was sentenced to death. It turns out that Limone and three other low level hoodlums were framed for the murder by FBI snitch Vincent Flemmi. The FBI knew from the beginning that Limone and his codefendants were innocent but did nothing in order to protect its informants. Limone's three codefendants died in prison. The evidence exonerating Limone was found in FBI files by a task force investigating endemic FBI corruption in Boston.

ME: On February 5, 2001, prisoners at the York county jail in Alfred protested overcrowding by smashing windows, setting fires and flooding cellblocks. The jail, designed to hold 98 prisoners, holds 116. No injuries were reported during the uprising.

MN: On February 26, 2001, Stillwater prisoner Von Pressley, 29, was charged in Washington county court with two counts of bribing a public official. The indictment claims that Pressley paid Stillwater guard Brian Diethert $3,000 to smuggle loose-leaf Top tobacco into the prison in 1999. Pressley would pay Diethert $300 for four packages of tobacco, which retail for approximately $1 each outside prison. In 1997 the Minnesota DOC banned tobacco products in its prisons. Diethert pleaded guilty to one count of bribery of a public official and served 45 days in jail paid a $1,030 fine and was sentenced to five years probation. Pressley's grandmother and girlfriend organized the deals.

MN: On March 25, 2001, Vernon Powers Jr. 28, and Scot Christian, 30, escaped from the Mower county jail in Austin by beating two guards and jumping out of a second story window.

Nigeria: On January 26, 2001, Nigeria returned California prison escapee Byron Booth, 56, to the United States to face charges. On January 27, 1969, Booth and another prisoner, Clinton Smith, escaped from the prison in Chino. The next day they bought a plane ticket to Miami and hijacked the plane over the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba. Despite U.S. arrest warrants, Cuban authorities released Booth and Smith who later went to Algiers where Smith was allegedly killed. Booth had lived illegally in Nigeria for several years and contacted the U.S. embassy in Lagos to express interest in returning to the U.S. to face charges stemming from his prison escape and the hijacking.

NY: On March 29, 2001, sergeant Ronald Hunlock, 56, a guard at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining was charged in Yorktown supreme court with felony animal cruelty charges. On March 11, 2001, while conducting a cell search, Hunlock found a box with five kittens in a prisoner's cell. The kittens mother, Midnight, wisely fled. Hunlock ordered the prisoner to take the kittens outside and place them in a trash compactor. When the prisoner refused to do so, Hunlock dumped the kittens into the compactor, turned it on and killed the kittens. Hunlock has been suspended without pay from his $51,000 a year job pending disposition of the charges against him.

OH: On February 8, 2001, federal prosecutors charged 11 women and Mansfield Correctional Institution prisoners Charles Hamilton, 35, and Robert Penn, 31, of running a credit card scam from prison. Using credit card numbers stolen from hotels by accomplices, Hamilton and Penn would place three way calls to mail order businesses and ordered over $50,000 in consumer electronics, jewelry and lingerie which were then resold or kept by the women. Prosecutors filed mail and wire fraud charges against the defendants.

OH: On march 5, 2001, Richard Hogue, 30, a Hamilton county jail guard pleaded guilty in state court to two felony counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material. Hogue was arrested after he sent sexually suggestive email to a 13-year-old girl. An adult intercepted the email and notified police. When police searched Hogue's home they found child pornography.

OH: On March 6, 2001, Richard Lake, 40, a prison guard at the Warren Correctional Institution, was charged with vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor, for driving too fast and causing the death of prison guard Wayne Mitchell on February 2, 2001, when the prison van Lake was driving crashed in a snowstorm, killing Mitchell. [See last month's News in Brief section for details.] State police list the cause of the accident as excessive speed. Two prisoners being taken to a hospital for routine medical appointments were also injured. The prisoners, Thomas Neville and Jacob Reeder, filed statements saying the van was going between 6080 miles per hour on the ice and snowbound highway. Prison officials are also investigating the crash to see if any prison policies were violated.

OH: On October 23, 2000, Brian Lamp, 25, a former guard at the Noble Correctional Institution pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of prisoner Ricky Todd on May 10, 1998. Lamp and another guard, Christopher Viney, 26, had prisoner Rocky Newman beat Todd in a recreation area. No motive for the beating was given by the media but race was implied as a factor since the media noted that Todd is black while Lamp, Viney and Newman are white. Viney previously pleaded guilty to a federal charge of concealing knowledge of a felony.

OK: In January 2001, the town of Shattuck lost the privilege of using prison slave labor. Until January 21, 2001, Shattuck used four prisoners from the William Key Correctional Center in Ft. Supply for $170 a month to fix streets, clean up around town and repair town property. According to a state fire marshal's report, unlicensed prisoners were installing electrical wiring across town, unsupervised prisoners also used town telephones, computers and vehicles, (including a pickup with a loaded shotgun in it). Town and prison officials took no further action.

OR: On March 1, 2001, former prison guard Michael Martin, 49, had his probation revoked and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 1997 Martin was convicted of raping three girls at the Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility in Salem and sentenced to probation. Martin's probation was revoked after he used alcohol and was fired from a job for sexually harassing coworkers. Marion county circuit judge Joseph Ochoa told Martin "You are a sex predator." Deputy district attorney Walt Beglau called Martin "a lecherous, self centered sex offender." Which begs the question of why was he placed on probation in the first place after being convicted of raping three teenage girls.

TX: On March 27, 2001, federal Bureau of Prisons lieutenant Bryan Small, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing justice stemming from covering up guards' attacks on prisoners at the U.S. penitentiary in Beaumont. Small would approve false reports to cover up the attacks. Small, a 10-year BOP employee, resigned the next day. He was the first BOP employee charged in attacks at the prison.

VA: On February 28, 2001, Virginia prison officials filed suit in Wise county circuit court against Gilbane Building Co. of Rhode Island, seeking $3 million in damages. Gilbane built the state' supermax Wallen's Ridge State Prison. Prison officials claim that loose rocks and boulders tumble down a slope behind the prison and have already damaged a road, fence and sally port, "endangering prison security." The $3 million in damages sought is the alleged cost of fixing the problem. Also named as a defendant is Traveler's Insurance Co. which the DOC claims has refused to reimburse it for $120,000 already spent on temporary ` repairs.

WA: In early March, 2001, King county (Seattle) jail guard Tannie Tomlin, 50, was suspended from his job as Seattle and San Francisco police and the FBI investigate claims that Tomlin supplied a pistol to Marcos Ranjel, 34. Ranjel, a repeat felon, is accused of the execution style killing of Carmel Sanger, a San Francisco salon owner. Prosecutors claim Sanger's ex husband, Robert Sanger, paid Ranjel $100,000 to carry out the killing. Sanger, who stood to get $750,000 in life insurance, has also been charged in the killing. Tomlin admits the murder weapon was his but claims it was stolen from his home. Tomlin claims not to know Ranjel but stipulated that he and Ranjel made dozens of calls to each other before and after the murder.

WA: In February 2001, 11-year state police lab technician Michael Hoover, 51, was charged in Snohomish county superior court with misdemeanor charges of evidence tampering and official misconduct stemming from his theft of heroin from evidence samples being tested by the lab. Hoover was videotaped stealing dozens of heroin samples. Prosecutors in several counties have dismissed charges in dozens of drug cases involving Hoover and are reviewing hundreds more. Hoover resigned from the state police after being arrested and claims he stole the heroin to ease his back pain. Prosecutor's failure to file drug felony drug charges against Hoover were not questioned by the media.

WA: On April 1, 2001, prisoners at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen protested the lack of job opportunities in the state's newest, and arguably most poorly run, prison. The protest included a boycott of meals and setting of fires in garbage cans. In response, prisoncrats locked down the prison and transferred a number of prisoners to control units around the state. Superintendent Doug Waddington said no one was injured and no state property was damaged during the rebellion.

WA: On March 9, 2001, 50 prison guards at the Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe staged a roadside picket to protest low pay and poor retirement benefits. Dan Grey, a prison guard and shop steward for Teamsters Local 313 said, "We just want a family wage and an equitable retirement system." The state legislature has declined to increase pay for state employees in recent years. Washington prison guard unions have expressed the priorities in recent years by focusing on legislation that makes life more miserable for prisoners than on seeking a wage increase for themselves.

WI: On December 15, 2000, DOC officials announced that all female prisoners had been returned from out of state prisons and were now being held in Wisconsin prisons. The state currently houses several thousand prisoners in private, prisons in other states.

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