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Washington Guard’s Acceptance of Money for Favors Merits Dismissal

The Washington State Personnel Appeals Board (PAB) has held dismissal is the appropriate sanction for a prison guard who accepted monetary gratuity in exchange for special favors to prisoners.

Before the PAB was the appeal of Mark Ortiz, a guard who worked at the Monroe Correctional Complex since September 1997. The facts at issue occurred while Ortiz was working the swing shift at the Washington State reformatory, which entailed Ortiz working the visiting room with his roommate, guard Benjamin Monagham.

Prison officials had heard rumors that prisoners were accessing some place in the visiting room to have sex with their female visitors and having unsupervised opportunities to exchange drugs and contraband. These rumors implicated Ortiz and Monagham.

An informant claimed prisoner White was going to receive drugs from his girlfriend during a visit. White received an unsigned note telling him he would be placed on “dry cell watch.” After the visit and no drugs being found during the subsequent watch, White was questioned by prison officials. White told the investigators about the note and that Ortiz and Monagham charged him $200.00 for that tip.

Monagham was then questioned. He admitted to excepting money on four occasions to allow prisoners to use the “back room” and for warning White. Monagham then resigned. Ortiz denied the allegations and was placed on unpaid supervision. During the subsequent investigation, prisoner’s Davis, Rice, White, and Simpson “corroborated that money was either exchanged for ‘walk-through’s’ (which means they were not searched after visits) or for use of the ‘back room’ with their female visitors. White’s girlfriend, Melanie Kelly, admitted to having sex in the back room with White and bringing him money to pay for the tip about the dry cell watch.

The PAB agreed the dismissal of Ortiz was appropriate because the evidence shows he neglected his duty, willfully violated agency policy, and his actions constitute gross misconduct. See: Ortiz v. Department of Corrections, PAB No: Dism-01-0085 (2003). The PAB ruling is in the brief bank.

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Related legal case

Ortiz v. Department of Corrections