Arizona: On September 25, 2009, defense attorney David DeCosta, 42, was charged with various crimes for trying to smuggle heroin and methamphetamine into the Maricopa County Jail. DeCosta attempted to pass the drugs to his client, Jesse Alejandro, during a court appearance on September 18. Alejandro’s girlfriend, 19-year-old Emilee Keen, also was charged. DeCosta admitted that Keen had performed sexual favors for him prior to his attempt to smuggle the drugs. Ja-son Keller, Alejandro’s former attorney, pleaded guilty to promoting prison contraband and faces 3 to 12 ½ years in prison; he admitted to smuggling cell phones and drugs to Mexican Mafia prisoners in 2008.
California: On September 10, 2009, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department arrested three prisoners for an at-tempted escape from the downtown jail. Items found in the jail and tips from informants helped identify Andre Pulido, Adam Ramsey and Alex Brown as the would-be escapees. The escape attempt occurred on the evening of August 16 when a car drove by the jail and a passenger fired shots at the fifth and sixth floor windows. Investigators believe the shooter was hoping to break a window so the prisoners could jump to freedom. Jackie Phoulivanh and Rosetta Rogers were later identified and arrested as the accomplices in the car.
Florida: On September 22, 2009, 41-year-old prisoner Christopher Lunz died in his cell at the Florida State Prison from an apparent suicide. Lunz had been transferred to the facility the day before from the Franklin Correctional Institute after guards discovered that he had stabbed his cellmate, 46-year-old Nathaniel Taylor, to death. Lunz was serving a life sentence for the 2003 robbery and murder of his father; Taylor was in prison for multiple sex offenses against children.
Florida: On September 8, 2009, Sgt. Ronnie Brown died at Winter Haven Hospital of complications during surgery for broken vertebrae. Brown was injured when he tried to remove prisoner Terrence Barnett from his cell at the South County Jail in Frostproof, south of Orlando. Barnett, who is 6’10” tall and weighs 225 pounds, shoved Brown into a concrete wall, breaking his back. Barnett stabbed another guard with a broken sprinkler pipe, but that guard’s injuries were minor and didn’t require hospitalization. On September 22, Barnett was charged with first degree murder for causing Brown’s death.
France: Jean-Pierre Treiber, 45, escaped from a high security prison in Auxerre, Burgundy on September 8, 2009 by concealing himself inside a cardboard box when he was left alone in the prison’s workshop. The box was placed on a truck with other packages and driven out of the facility. Treiber leapt from the truck sometime later; authorities did not dis-cover the escape for at least seven hours. Treiber had been in prison since 2004 awaiting trial for the notorious murders of Geraldine Giraud, daughter of French actor Roland Giraud, and her friend Katia Lherbier. Authorities searched the woods about 20 miles north of the prison, but were not confident they would locate Treiber because he had worked in that area for years as a forest ranger and was a skilled outdoorsman.
Georgia: On September 22, 2009, former Fulton County Jail guard Derontay Anton Langford pleaded guilty in an At-lanta federal court to obstructing justice by lying to a grand jury investigating the May 18, 2008 death of a prisoner. Lang-ford admitted that he falsified, omitted and concealed information about an altercation he had with Richard Glasco shortly before Glasco was discovered dead on the floor of his cell. According to eyewitnesses, Langford and two other jail guards, Curtis Jerome Brown, Jr. and Mitnee Markette Jones, entered Glasco’s cell, beat him and left him to die. Brown and Jones are scheduled to go to trial on October 13, 2009 on charges of making false statements and filing false reports. Two jail lieutenants, Robert W. Hill, Jr. and Earl Glenn, also were charged in connection with Glasco’s death; Glenn pleaded guilty on August 25 to using excessive force and lying to an FBI agent.
Guatemala: On September 7, 2009, a prison assistant director, a warden and two prison guards were killed by gun-men. The first attack, which killed the guards, occurred around 7:00 a.m. when gunmen with AK-47s opened fire on a transport van in Guatemala City. The warden and assistant director were killed 10 minutes later in a separate attack in front of the Hospital General San Juan de Dios. Officials believe the fatal attacks were in retaliation for efforts to crack down on cell phones and other contraband inside the nation’s prisons.
Illinois: On October 2, 2009, Jose C. Nava, Jr., a former Cook County Jail guard, was sentenced to three years pro-bation for smuggling marijuana and other contraband into the facility. Nava was arrested in April when officials discovered drugs and alcohol as he passed through a security checkpoint on his way to work. Apparently, Nava knew one of the pris-oners at the jail and agreed to meet the prisoner’s girlfriend to obtain the contraband. He was suspended from his job without pay following the arrest, and resigned in August.
Indiana: On July 8, 2009, Karen Gibson, 27, a guard at the Westville Correctional Facility, was arrested on a felony charge of smuggling contraband when she reported for work. Officials did not say what she tried to bring into the prison. Gibson was booked into the LaPorte County Jail on $1,500 bond.
Indiana: On September 14, 2009, 67-year-old John M. Kelly, a former civilian transport officer for the Bartholomew County Jail, was sentenced to three years for having sex with a female prisoner he was transporting to the Brown County Jail. Judge Judith Stewart suspended two years of the sentence, finding that Kelly’s conduct indicated he had a failure of character rather than an overall bad character. Kelly may be able to serve the remaining one year of his sentence in Brown County’s work release program.
Kansas: On September 22, 2009, prisoner Joseph Bellamy was acquitted of aggravated battery charges related to an incident at the CCA-run Leavenworth Detention Center on October 22, 2008. Bellamy was accused of stabbing guards Kennith Lajiness and Cory O’Neill, who both survived the incident and testified during the trial. Bellamy won’t be released, however, as he is still serving a life sentence plus 48 years for an unrelated conviction.
Kentucky: On September 13, 2009, Mark Hourigan, 41, was ordained as a minister at the City of Refuge Worship Center, a Pentecostal church in Louisville. Hourigan had been convicted of sex crimes involving an 11-year-old boy in 1998. He completed his prison sentence and was discharged from parole in 2008. Religious experts believe this could be the first time a known sex offender has been ordained as a minister in a Christian church. Victims’ rights groups opposed the decision to ordain Hourigan, but church leaders fully support him as they believe he is reformed.
Mississippi: In September 2009, Joseph Leon Jackson and Courtney Logan were indicted for shooting Nashville po-lice Sgt. Mark Chesnut. Jackson, who was being held at the CCA-run Delta Correctional Facility, escaped from three CCA guards on June 25, 2009 during a visit to an eye doctor. Logan entered the doctor’s office, fired shots into the ceiling and freed Jackson. The pair was later stopped by Sgt. Chesnut for not wearing seatbelts in their getaway car. Chesnut was sitting in his police cruiser running a license check when Jackson walked up and shot him five times using a .38 taken from one of the prison guards. Chesnut managed to call for help, and Jackson and Logan were quickly apprehended. Logan attempted to hang himself shortly after his arrest and was placed on suicide watch at a Nashville jail. Jackson was serving a life sentence. Both have been charged with attempted murder, as Sgt. Chesnut survived the shooting.
New Jersey: On September 25, 2009, former Morris County Jail guard Lee C. Maimone was sentenced to five years in prison for theft by extortion. Maimone gave special treatment to an unnamed prisoner, such as agreeing to back him up in disciplinary cases, in exchange for a promise that he would be paid $60,000 upon the prisoner’s release. Maimone eventually negotiated a meeting with a person he thought was the prisoner’s girlfriend to receive a partial payment of $2,000. The woman was an undercover detective and Maimone was immediately arrested. He will be eligible for parole after serving 20 months of his sentence.
New York: On August 12, 2009, 42-year-old Hope Spinato, a former guard at FCI Otisville, was sentenced to 8 months in prison for aiding and abetting in an escape. On July 15, 2007, Spinato drove an unnamed prisoner who was serving a 203-month sentence on drug convictions from the FCI to her home, had sex with him, and then returned him to the prison. She later admitted to bringing the prisoner home with her on numerous occasions so they could have sex.
New York: On September 4, 2009, prisoner Kevin Schmitt leapt from the second tier of the Ulster County Jail and died of a severe head injury. Schmitt had been arrested the day before following a 10-hour standoff with Sher-iff’s deputies on charges that he struck his ex-wife with a rifle butt.
Ohio: On September 9, 2009, Franklin County Jail guard Joseph M. Cantwell pleaded guilty to two health code vio-lations. He was fined $500 and received five years probation and a 90-day suspended sentence. The guilty plea stemmed from Cantwell feeding prisoner Joseph Copeland, Jr. a bologna sandwich that, unbeknownst to Copeland, had been rubbed against another prisoner’s penis. Cantwell and a second guard who participated in the incident, Phillip Barnett, were fired. Copeland has since filed a lawsuit, as has Todd Triplett, the prisoner who rubbed his penis on the sandwich, claiming he was forced by the guards to do so.
South Carolina: On September 26, 2009, the Lee Correctional Institute was locked down after a fight broke out among 60 prisoners in a common area. Guards dropped tear gas canisters through the ceiling and stormed the room. The prisoners put up no resistance and only minor injuries were reported; the cause of the fight is under investigation.
Texas: On July 31, 2009, Moises B. Martinez, Jr., a former case manager at the GEO Group-run Reeves County De-tention Center, was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison and three years probation for attempting to smuggle tobacco and other contraband into the privately-run facility. On September 2, 2009, former Reeves County life skills instructor Velma Jean Payan was sentenced to 24 months on charges of smuggling contraband. The next day, former Reeves County guards Jerri Ornelas, Silvia Chairez and Jacob C. Guzman were sentenced on similar charges. Ornelas and Chariez both received 24 months in prison, while Guzman was sentenced to 46 months; all will also have to serve three years on su-pervised release.
Texas: On August 23, 2009, Chastity Withers, formerly a guard employed by Community Education Centers, which operates the Falls County Jail, married prisoner Timothy Hargrove by proxy. Officials discovered the marriage in Septem-ber following tips from confidential sources, and Withers was fired. Hargrove has since been sentenced to 30 years for drug manufacturing and transferred to prison. Withers was later arrested and charged with introducing prohibited items into a correctional facility. She was released after posting $1,000 bail.
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