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News in Brief

California: On May 1, 2002, the Wasco State Prison banned all smoking by prisoners at the facility, becoming the second state prison in California to do so. Prison officials claimed it was costing $250,000 a year to reprimand prisoners smoking in non smoking areas and to repair damage to lighting fixtures caused by smokers improvising lighters after matches were banned.

Canada: On May 6, 2002, Maurice Mom" Boucher, 48, the head of the Quebec chapter of the Hell's Angels motorcycle club, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for ordering the killing of two prison guards who were actually killed.

Colorado: In March, 2002, officials at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City mistakenly released Clifton Brecha, 30, on parole. As of May 3, 2002, they were still looking for him. Brecha was serving a sentence of life plus 24 years stemming from the death of a prisoner in 1994. Prison officials were unable to explain why or how Brecha was released.

Connecticut: on April 9, 2002, prisoner Jair Ramirez, 23, escaped from the Hartford Correctional Center during a prisoner transfer by hiding in a garage while other prisoners were loaded into a transport van. Ramirez's escape, while shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, was not noticed until the van arrived at the MacDougall prison in Suffield.

Connecticut: On May 1, 2002, Kenneth Pladsen 32, a prisoner at the MacDougall Correctional Institution in Suffield was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to assault on a Department of Corrections employee and possessing a weapon in prison. Pladsen used a lock to hit prison guard Karen White on the head, and then slashing her with a razor in a toothbrush on January 19, 2000. The attack came after White searched Pladsen's cell. The sentence must be served consecutive to the 18 year sentence for car theft that Pladsen was already serving.

Florida: In March, 2002, the Florida Department of Corrections released documents after the St. Petersburg Times filed suit, indicating that in March, 2001, prisoner informant Robert Pasquince had informed prison officials of a plot by Zephyrhills Correctional Institution prisoners Richard Seibert, Robert Fennell, Joshua Knerr, Paul Russell, Henry Shelton, Raymond Eldridge and Mark Guglielmo, to tunnel out of the prison. The would be escapees tunneled to within 40 feet of the prison's perimeter fence before being stopped by prison officials. Six prison employees were disciplined for negligence in allowing the escape plot to progress so far and for inadequate supervision of the escapees. All remain employed by the Florida DOC. All the would be escapees were serving life sentences which led local prosecutors to decline to press criminal charges in the case.

Louisiana: On February 13, 2002, Orleans Parish jail prisoners Ernest Irving, 35, and Michael Brown, 26, were charged with aggravated rape. The two men allegedly broke into a holding cell in the jail hospital and raped a female prisoner awaiting medical care. The rape victim promptly reported the attack to jail guards.

Maryland: On April 11, 2002, Carolyn Diane Cooley, 44, a guard at the Chelternham Youth Facility, was charged with sexually assaulting a 14 year old boy in her care. The victim was housed in a special unit in the prison that is reserved for children who have not committed any crimes but who are in state care due to an unstable home life. Prosecutors claim Cooley had sex with the child on several occasions.
New York: The current champion of the International Federation of Competitive Eating is Charles Hardy, a 360 pound state prison guard. Among Hardy's feats are eating a 15 foot uncut sushi roll in 30 minutes and eating 23 and a half hot dogs in 12 minutes.

North Carolina: On May 10, 2002, a Johnston county jury in Smithfield convicted Johnston Correctional Institution guard Cynthia Rupel, 42, of the murder of her husband James Rupel, 41. The jury found Rupel had murdered her husband by shooting him in the head with a .357 revolver as he lay naked in the bed of their mobile home. Rupel then faked a suicide note and tried to claim James had killed himself. Police became suspicions upon discovering that Rupel was having an affair with another guard at the prisoner where she worked.

Ohio: On April 22, 2002, Walter Fairman, 37, a guard at the Toledo Correctional Institution was charged with assault for punching guard, and his ex girlfriend, Cynthia San Pedro, 31, on the thigh during roll call at the prison. Fairman was upset over a soured relationship with San Pedro. San Pedro had previously pleaded no contest to charges that she harassed and stalked another female guard with whom Fairman was involved and had threatened her and followed her to Fairman's home.

Texas: On April 21, 2002, Tarrant county (Ft. Worth) assistant district attorney Soraya Choudhry, 31, was arrested outside a hotel at 2 AM and charged with public intoxication and threatening a police officer. Police were called after Choudhry was seen fighting in a car with a friend. Choudhry resigned her job as a prosecutor after being charged.

Virginia: On March 20, 2002m Vince Wolfe, a counselor at the Bland Correctional Center was indicted on federal charges that he helped state prisoner and DEA informant Michael Fulcher run a marijuana ring in the prison. Wolfe is the 22nd person indicted in the drug case, including Fulcher, four guards, another counselor, nine prisoners and others.

Washington: On April 11, 2002, Jason Larson, 31, a prisoner at the Minimum Security Unit in Monroe, escaped from the back of a Department of Natural Resources truck going to a work detail in Stillwater. Larson kicked the truck door open and escaped while the truck was stopped at a stoplight. He had been at the camp about a month and had almost exactly a year remaining on his sentences of forgery, possessing stolen property and eluding police.

Washington: On may 28, 2002, John Anthony Brown, 31, hanged himself in the Intensive Management Unit of the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. Brown allegedly tied a sheet around the television stand in his cell and died of suffocation. Brown had been serving a 1988 Snohomish county sentence for rape and assault. g

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