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News in Brief:

California: On June 29, 2009, Richard Henry Kase, 41, was sentenced to 90 years to life for the first-degree murder of his cellmate, 28-year-old Randy James Rabelos, at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy. Kase repeatedly told Rabelos, a convicted child molester, to be quiet one night in December 2007 before punching him in the throat, shoving a towel in his mouth, pinching his nose shut and saying, “Goodbye, Randy.” The next morning he informed the guards that Rabelos was dead. Kase was serving an 11-year sentence for illegal weapon possession at the time. Ironically, that conviction was overturned and dismissed just seven months after he killed Rabelos.

California: Working on a tip, Fresno County Sherriff’s deputies staked out the Claremont Correctional Center on Octo-ber 17, 2009. They arrested 27-year-old parolee Antoine Enoch and 31-year-old Janae Mason after observing the pair throw a soccer ball over the prison yard fence. The ball was stuffed with drugs, cell phones and other contraband. The pair was booked into jail on various drug-related charges.

Florida: In November 2009, Vincent Lee, 42, was charged with killing Willie Smith, 28, on October 16. Both men were prisoners at the South Bay Correctional Institute, operated by GEO Group. Lee killed Smith by stabbing him in the head with a foot-and-a-half long “shiv,” apparently because Smith had insulted his favorite football team, the Miami Dolphins.

Idaho: Bill Lloyd, 32, formerly a guard at the Women’s Correctional Center in Pocatello, was sentenced to six years of probation and 180 days in jail for having sex with a prisoner. Judge David Nye said the dilemma he faced in sentencing Lloyd was how to deter others from committing similar crimes, which he described as “an abuse of power situation.” Apparently, the judge believed a six-month jail sentence was sufficient despite having the authority to impose up to six years in state prison. As frequently reported in PLN, guards typically receive short sentences for similar “abuses of power” that involve sexual assaults on prisoners.

Illinois: In early November 2009, Tyrone McDowell, Jr., who worked in the trust account department of the Cook County Jail, was charged with stealing $1,260 from ten prisoners. Officials uncovered the thefts when prisoners complained that money was missing from their trust accounts upon release. An internal audit revealed McDowell was the only employee working in the department when the incidents took place. He was jailed on $50,000 bond.

Indiana: On November 18, 2009, Matthew Patterson, 38, and Jim Heffernan, 39, were arrested by the state police for official misconduct and ghost employment. An investigation revealed that the two were “playing golf, going to an exercise gym, gambling, moving furniture, attending sporting events or visiting friends” while they were on the clock as guards at the Henry County Corrections Center. Community Corrections Director Doug Sheets, 57, was charged with knowingly ap-proving false time cards for Patterson and Heffernan. The scam occurred between March 2007 and July 2009.

Kentucky: On November 18, 2009, 50-year-old Albert Preston Long, an employee of Court Services, Inc., a private firm that transports prisoners, was charged in federal court with traveling in interstate commerce to have sex with a prisoner. Long allegedly transported one female and three male prisoners from Tennessee to Kentucky, where he booked the men into the Christian County Jail. However, he took the woman to a local motel and forced her to have sex. Prosecutors say Long was also charged with civil rights violations and firearm offenses because he was armed when he committed the rape.

Maryland: Former guard Jason Weaver was sentenced on November 20, 2009 to three months in jail for conspiracy to commit assault. Weaver is among 22 guards from the North Branch and Roxbury state prisons who were fired following an investigation into guard brutality. Fifteen of the guards were charged with various felonies for beating prisoners in March 2008. Four of the North Branch guards, including Weaver, were convicted at trial and two from Roxbury pleaded guilty to assault charges. The rest were either acquitted, went to trials that ended in hung juries, or had the charges dropped. [See: PLN, August 2009, p.20].

Massachusetts: James “Jim” Burke, 41, a clerk at the Chelsea District Court, was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2009 on civil rights and extortion charges. The charges stem from Burke using his clerk’s position to extort sex from two women charged with prostitution. He promised to have their cases dismissed in exchange for sexual favors; when one woman refused, he threatened to have her arrested. Burke faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

Mexico: In November 2009, Mexican police apprehended Marco Antonio Ibarra, formerly the chief guard at Tijuana’s La Mesa State Penitentiary, in his home town of Culiacan where he had been hiding for a year. Ibarra was wanted for ordering guards to take 10 prisoners into a storage room and beat them. A 19-year-old prisoner died during the assault, which sparked two uprisings that resulted in at least 23 prisoner deaths in September 2008. Ibarra ordered the beatings to find out who owned drugs, cell phones and other contraband found at the prison. He will stand trial on charges of homicide and torture.

Michigan: Kent County Sheriff’s deputies simply forgot to unload three prisoners from a transport van on the evening of November 10, 2009. The guards picked up six prisoners from the local courthouse, loaded them in a van and trans-ported them back to jail. However, only three were unloaded; the others were left shackled in the van, which was returned to the courthouse and parked in a garage. The jail realized the oversight during head count and quickly retrieved the three forgotten prisoners. Officials are investigating the incident.

Michigan: The Department of Corrections announced that it is in the process of overturning a controversial policy barring HIV-positive prisoners from working in food service positions. DOC Director Patricia Caruso has authorized the policy revision and ordered the amended version to be circulated among wardens and other department heads for comment. If there are no objections, the new policy could become effective as early as December 2009. HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact, including through food preparation.

Minnesota: In June 2009, John St. Marie, a former Hennepin County prosecutor, was accused of soliciting clients for prostitutes over the Internet and then arranging paid sex sessions for the men, who referred to themselves as “The Minnesota Nice Guys.” St. Marie was not paid for his services but received free sex from the prostitutes he helped pimp. A search warrant was served on his residence, and he is expected to be charged in federal court with transporting women across state lines for prostitution.

Nebraska: On October 20, 2009, former Gage County jail guard Eugene Fiester, 37, was sentenced to 3 to 5 years in prison for raping a female prisoner. He claimed the sex was consensual, but the woman alleged that Fiester entered her cell while she was sleeping and sexually assaulted her. Fiester had worked as a guard at the Tecumseh State Prison for six years before transferring to the jail.

New Mexico: In November 2009, former Camino Nuevo Correctional Center guard Anthony Townes was sentenced to 18 years in prison for raping four female prisoners between January and August 2007. Camino Nuevo is owned and operated by CCA. PLN has reported extensively on sexual abuse by CCA guards around the country, including a recent sex scandal in Ken-tucky that involved at least six CCA employees over a multi-year period, including a chaplain. [See: PLN, Oct. 2009, p.40].

New Mexico: Joey Montoya, 21, was on duty at the Española Police Department’s jail on November 15, 2009, when he left with a 20-year-old woman who was at the facility for alcohol detox following a domestic dispute. He drove her to a secluded area behind a local high school and the two had sex. Montoya admitted to the sex, but claimed it was consensual. The woman said she had been raped. Montoya was charged with criminal sexual penetration and freed on bond pending trial. Another unnamed jailer was placed on leave for failing to report that Montoya had left with the woman.

New York: Ronald Tackman was arrested on October 1, 2009 as a fugitive from justice. He had been released from court the day before when a jailer mistook him for an attorney. Tackman, who was wearing a business suit, had been transported to court from Rikers Island for a hearing on a string of robbery charges.

Oklahoma: On November 6, 2009, a warrant was issued for former guard Michelle Kalinich. Kalinich, 29, who worked at the CCA-owned and operated Davis Correctional Facility, is accused of having sex with 21-year-old prisoner James Black. She is also accused of smuggling seven ounces of marijuana, 30 Ecstasy pills and 36 pouches of tobacco to Black. She reportedly received $2,000 for the contraband.

Oklahoma: Richard Lynn Dopp, 47, was arrested in the early morning hours of November 6, 2009 after tricking officials at the GEO Group-run Lawton Correctional Facility into releasing him. Dopp had been set free on October 5 when prison officials received a fraudulent order modifying his life sentence to 10 years. The false order caught the attention of Ottawa County District Attorney Eddie Wyant when prison officials notified him of Dopp’s release. The fraudulent document indicated that Wyant had attended a hearing on July 27 during which Dopp’s sentence was reduced. No such hearing took place. Dopp was apprehended without incident at his mother’s house.

Texas: On November 6, 2009, prisoners working in the mess hall at the Segovia Unit found 25 pounds of marijuana in a crate of fruit. The fruit had been donated by the Edinburg Police Department after it was seized from a produce truck carrying more than a half-ton of the drug. The police department routinely donates seized items to other government agencies. The fruit had been searched by drug dogs before being delivered to the prison, but apparently the contraband was missed. The prisoner who found the drug stash immediately reported it to guards; all prisoner workers were strip-searched but no marijuana was found outside the crate.

Texas: Standric Choice, 36, formerly a sheriff’s deputy in Dallas, was sentenced on November 13, 2009 to 15 years in federal prison on drug and weapons charges. The charges stem from Choice and two co-defendants, Terry Kemone Anderson, 29, and Charlie Lee Hill, 31, planning to rob a local drug dealer by staging a fake arrest. The drug dealer was actually an undercover police officer.

Virginia: On June 4, 2009, Steven Lederman, formerly a state assistant attorney general, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession. He had originally been charged with felony counts after police learned from an informant that he had purchased a quantity of marijuana for resale. Lederman was sentenced as a first time offender and received probation. He lost his job following his arrest.

Washington: In November 2009, King County Jail prisoner Michael Brown, 42, was charged with assault for spitting pepper spray into a guard’s mouth. Brown became irate during booking on September 7; after kicking a jail guard, he was forcibly moved to a padded cell where he began tearing out the padding and urinating under the cell door. Guards doused him with pepper spray and put him in a restraint chair. Undeterred, Brown spit saliva and pepper spray at the guards, hit-ting one in the face.

Wisconsin: On November 6, 2009, a Waukesha County Sheriff’s deputy shot and wounded Steven P. Lettenberger, 43, who was in the deputy’s custody at an area hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries. Lettenberger, who was shot when he tried to attack the deputy, was listed in critical condition. The deputy was not injured.

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