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California Guard Convicted of Abetting Prison Gang

A twenty-year veteran California state prison guard was convicted on February 14, 2006 in Los Angeles U.S. District Court of federal charges of participating in a corrupt organizations conspiracy, violent crimes in the aid of racketeering, and deprivation of rights under color of law.

Shayne Allyn Ziska, 44, aided the white supremacist Nazi Low Riders gang (NLR) at the California Institution for Men (Chino). He helped NLR distribute hard drugs, carried messages between gang members, and fed information to gang shot callers. He also unlocked cell doors to permit gang members to assault other prisoners, including one who was stabbed under the eye.

Prison staff and over ten prisoners testified at the bench trial. Martin Aroian, Chapter President of the powerful prison guards union (California Correctional Peace Officers Association, CCPOA), testified for Ziska's character.

Ziska drew heat from the state legislature in 2003 when it was revealed that he had been on paid administrative leave since October 2000, collecting $150,000 to stay home pending an investigation. (See: PLN, Nov. 2003, p.3.) He was then recalled to work on non peace-officer status doing clerical duties until he was indicted and jailed in July 2004.

On June 26, 2006, Ziska was sentenced to 17 1/2 years. As a federal prisoner he will have to serve at least 85% of his term. He reacted to the lengthy prison sentence by cursing at the federal judge, Terry J. Hatter, Jr.

Sources: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin; San Jose Mercury News.

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