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Former Warden and Two Jailers Sentenced for Philadelphia Jail Beating

Former Warden and Two Jailers Sentenced
for Philadelphia Jail Beating

A former warden and two former guards were sentenced in federal court for their roles in connection with the severe beating of a federal prisoner who was being held at a Philadelphia jail.

Donti Hunter, the former Philadelphia jail prisoner, was being held in the jail after pleading guilty to leading a violent Mantua crack-cocaine gang and agreeing to testify against his gang and the counselor who had helped him escape in 1996. On March 11, 1999, Reginald Steptoe, 40, a former guard, took offense at Hunter's grabbing from a sergeant's hand some marijuana which had been found in Hunter's cell, running to an adjoining cell, and flushing the evidence.

Steptoe beat Hunter bloody using a pair of handcuffs as brass knuckles. Cornell Tyler, 40, another former guard, assisted in the beatings. The beatings continued even after Hunter was subdued and handcuffed. Hunter suffered wounds to the face and scalp requiring nineteen-stitches to close and was hospitalized for several days as a result of the beating.

Glen Guadalupe, formerly the deputy warden of Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, instituted a cover up by ordering a guard lieutenant to lie about the beating. Guadalupe was convicted of obstruction of justice in federal court and sentenced on August 7, 2003, to 15 months in federal prison followed by two years of probation. District Judge William H. Yohn, Jr. justified his deviation from the 24 to 30 months called for in the sentencing guidelines by stating that he believed Guadalupe deserved some leniency. The justification for the leniency is difficult to comprehend. Guadalupe has yet to accept responsibility or express remorse for his criminal actions (factors which allow for leniency in sentencing under the guidelines). On the contrary, he maintains that he did nothing wrong.

On July 31, 2003, the same federal judge sentenced Steptoe to 30 months in federal prison. Yohn again ordered a lighter sentence than the 57 to 71 months the sentencing guidelines called for. Yohn justified the reduced sentence by ruling that Hunter instigated the incident by fleeing from the cell search, attempting to destroy evidence and punching Steptoe in the eye as he was being handcuffed.

Expressing sympathy for Steptoe, Yohn said, "I know this is a very difficult time for you and your family. I know that after you pay your debt to society that you'll be a good citizen, and a productive citizen, for rest of your life." Yohn imposed only a nominal $600 fine, noting that Steptoe had lost his job and pension and "has no net worth."

Tyler was due to be sentenced on August 21, 2003. He also face a guideline- recommended sentence of 57 to 71 months in federal prison. According to prosecutor Anthony J. Wzorek, the lenient sentences will probably not be appealed by the government.

In 2002, Philadelphia settled a civil-rights lawsuit by paying Hunter $125,000. [PLN, June 2003, p.36]. The same jury which convicted Steptoe, Tyler and Guadalupe in 2002, acquitted guards Albert Payne, Anthony Black and retired Sgt. Dennis Hardeman of related criminal charges. One wonders if the guards are amazed that the informant they beat informed on them.

Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer, Associated Press, Philadelphia Daily News.

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