News in Brief
California: On April 26, 2004, 28 black and Hispanic prisoners at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad rioted, leaving some of the prisoners with minor injuries.
Columbia: In July, 2004, the U.S. returned Nelson Vargas Rueda to Columbia to resume serving a 54 month sentence for rebellion. Rueda is the first member of the Marxist Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Columbia (FARC) to be extradited to the US. American prosecutors claimed Rueda had killed three American Indian rights activists in Columbia in 1999. The FARC admitted to committing the killings but stated it was a mistake by its members. Rueda was charged and extradited to the US on murder charges only to have the case dismissed on June 28, 2004, when the government was unable or unwilling to locate two witnesses in the case. Rueda's American lawyer said the federal case against his client was incredibly weak." Rueda is the first member of the FARC, which has been fighting for over 40 years to install a socialist government in Columbia, to be extradited to the US.
Connecticut: In August, 2004, charges were dismissed against former judicial marshal Roosevelt Lee, 44, after he completed probation on a charge of third degree assault and deprivation of a person's rights by force or threat. On April 26, 2003, Lee beat and stomped New Haven jail prisoner Hommy Lugo Rodriguez after Rodriguez allegedly spit on him. Video tapes of the beating show Lee throwing Rodriguez onto the ground and punching and hitting him after removing him from his cell. Lee had been sentenced to six months probation and 50 hours of community service. He was also fired from his job after his arrest. Lee is seeking reinstatement of his job and still claims he did nothing wrong. Jaime Abert, a police woman who was convicted of witnessing the assault and then lying about it in a police report also completed her probation and had charges against her dismissed as a result. She still works for the New Haven police department after having a two month unpaid suspension.
Connecticut: In August, 2004, Michael Fuschi, 51, a guard at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, was charged wiwth workers' compensation fraud and first degree larceny by defrauding a public community. Prosecutors claim that Fuschi falsely stated he was injured by a prisoner who ran over his foot with a food cart and then proceeded to collect $15,000 in benefits after filing a disability claim. Apparently Fuschi filed the claim with a prisoners' assistance and another prisoner duly proceeded to inform the proper authorities of the fraud which initiated the investigation by the Chief State's Attorney's Office. Fuschi remains employed by the state DOC.
Connecticut: On June 28, 2004, former federal prison guard Gregory Webb, 41, was sentenced to three years probation and 500 hours of community service for having sex with a female prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury and then lying about it when confronted by investigators.
District of Columbia: On May 18, 2004, Jacqueline Blake, 40, a biologist in the FBI's crime lab, pleaded guilty to falsifying DNA test results to benefit the prosecution in more than 100 cases. She worked for the FBI as a DNA biologist from 1988 to 2002.
Kentucky: On August 24, 2004, John Kyser, 59, a guard at the Jefferson County Judicial Building was charged with official misconduct for giving a female prisoner two cigarettes in exchange for oral sex.
New Jersey: On May 9, 2004, a fight between rival gang members at the Essex County Jail in Newark left at least six prisoners injured, one with serious stab wounds. Five guards suffered minor injuries quelling the riot.
New Mexico: On August 14, 2004, governor Bill Richardson fired Bob Martinez, the head of the state parole board for failing to notify eight child molestation victims that the priest convicted of molesting them, David Holley, 77, was being considered for parole. Holley pleaded guilty to molesting 8 boys in 1993 and was sentenced to 275 years in prison. In firing Martinez, Richardson noted the failure to notify crime victims violated the state constitution. Martinez claimed a clerical error was made. Holley was not paroled and has a new parole hearing set for September, 2004.
New York: Between August 16 and 19, 2004, immigration detainees at the Wackenhut Detention Center in Queens staged a hunger strike protesting their conditions of confinement, denial of access to friends, family and lawyers and their lengthy detentions. The strike ended after many prisoners were placed in isolation and were threatened with immediate deportation or additional confinement if they persisted.
New York: In April, 2004, Lt. Glenn Looney, 48, an employee at the Bedford Hills prison, was charged with having sex with Carolyn Warmus, 40. Like most states, New York bans sex between prisoners and employees. Warmus claims she had sex with Looney over a two year period and saved his semen to prove it. This is the second time in five years that Warmus, a wealthy socialite serving time for the murder of her lover's wife in 1991, of having sex with her.
New York: In early summer, 2004, a 156 year old statue of a continental soldier known as Copper John was removed from the top of the Auburn Correctional Facility for renovation. When returned to his former place this fall the statue will be less well endowed than before. According to The Post Standard of Syracuse, state prison officials ordered renovators to reduce the size of the statue's crotch before replacing him. Prison officials would not respond to the media's calls for comment on the reason for the order. Many prison guards, however, are unhappy about the size reduction and have made t shirts protesting it.
North Carolina: On August 1, 2004, Frank Big Black" Smith, 70, died after a lengthy struggle with cancer. Smith is best known as one of the leaders of the 1971 Attic prison rebellion that called world attention to the inhumane conditions of American prisons. After his release from prison Smith became a paralegal and was a driving force in the class action suit against New York prison officials which was ultimately settled in 2000.
Oklahoma: On June 25, 2004, Mark Burleson, 22, was arrested by police for speeding when they determined he had escaped from the Tulsa jail on June 18. The jail is run by Avalon Correctional Services, a private for profit company. The jail did not notice the escape for another day. Burleson had been serving time for possessing a firearm while under DOC supervision. He had promised his mother not to try to flee police if caught and he did not.
Philippines: On May 9, 2004, rival gang members rioted in the Pasay City Jail, leaving two prisoners dead and at least one wounded.
Texas: On August 24, 2004, Hidalgo county jail guard Guadalupe Rodea Jr. 30., was convicted of official oppression by a jury stemming from his January 16, 2003, assault on jail prisoner Antonio Lopez. During the assault, Rodea removed his glasses, belt and some of his uniform before going into Lopez's cell and punching him. Rodea, a jail guard since 1995, was fired on March 13, 2003.
Texas: On January 9, 2004, Gary Johnson, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and his deputy director suffered broken bones and were hospitalized after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by another car. The other car was driven by Claude LaRose, 72, who apparently lost control of the vehicle. His wife Gwendolyn, 70, was killed in the accident. The wreck occurred during a rainstorm on U.S. 290 near Elgin.
Texas: On June 26, 2004, a McClennan County Detention Center guard and prisoner were critically injured, when the van carrying two guards and 13 prisoners from Odessa to Waco blew out a tire and rolled over several times.
West Virginia: In July, 2004, Wytona Mollohan, was sentenced to 90 days in jail for lifting her shirt and exposing her breasts to a passing motorist. The motorist was Logan county prosecuting attorney Brian Abraham. Upon seeing the exposed breasts, Abraham turned around, called police and detained Mollohan.