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News in Brief

California: Saul “Scrappy” Perez, 23, and William Lloyd Coats, 45, incarcerated at the Glenn County jail, were charged with drug-related offenses after being caught smoking pot in the jail’s exercise yard on January 24, 2012. A guard noticed unusual activity near the toilet area on the yard, and a search uncovered an undisclosed amount of marijuana and a lighter. Both Coats and Perez tested positive for marijuana use.

California: Zachary William Johnson, 32, escaped from the John Latorraca Correctional Facility in El Nido on February 14, 2012 with help from both his wife and girlfriend. After managing to abscond from the jail, Johnson’s girlfriend, Jeanette Segovia, 40, helped him take a taxi to his wife, Dawn Hathaway, 25. When sheriff’s deputies tried to stop the taxi, the driver got out and Johnson drove off, leading the deputies on a high-speed chase that ended when officers used a spike strip. Johnson was booked into the Merced County Jail and his wife and girlfriend were arrested on charges of aiding and abetting. Sheriff Mark Pazin opined that Johnson had escaped because he “wanted to spend some time with his lady friends on Valentine’s Day.”

Florida: On December 28, 2011, the Third District Court of Appeal held that state prisoner Randy Chaviano, 26, serving a life sentence for second-degree murder and drug possession with intent to sell, would receive a new trial be-cause the court reporter in his original trial could not produce a transcript of the proceedings. The court reporter, Terlesa Cowart, ran out of paper in her stenography machine during the trial. She transferred an electronic copy of the transcript from the machine to her computer, but that copy was destroyed by a virus. Thus, almost the entire transcript from the trial was lost, which prejudiced Chaviano’s appeal. Cowart was subsequently fired.

Florida: Facebook has led to the undoing of another dangerous criminal. When Steven Mulhall, 21, was in court in Broward County on February 23, 2012 for a misdemeanor theft case, he decided to steal the judge’s nameplate from a courtroom door. A tip led sheriff’s deputies to check Facebook, where a picture of Mulhall holding the purloined nameplate was posted on his girlfriend’s Facebook page. He was consequently charged with felony theft, jailed and later released.

Florida: Belle Glade mayor Steve Wilson had a second job until February 2, 2012: He worked as a corrections probation supervisor at the GEO Group-run South Bay Correctional Institution. He retired, however, while under investigation for compromising a confidential FBI database; had he not retired he would have been demoted for violating prison policy. According to FDOC records, Wilson had let another employee log into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database using his name and password, to conduct criminal background checks. That employee had not received security clearance to access the database. “Certainly he violated all types of rules,” said retired detective Tom Whatley. Wilson did not face any criminal charges.

Iowa: Terrell Lillybridge, 30, headed back to federal court in March 2012 on a petition to have his supervised release revoked. His offense? He was accused of stealing Girl Scout cookies from another resident at a halfway house where he was staying after being released from federal prison. Plus he didn’t report that he had lost his job at a factory. According to a report filed in federal court, Lillybridge took the cookies on February 25, 2012 and the theft was caught on a surveillance camera. On March 16, the court ordered him to serve six months in prison followed by another year on supervised release. Federal officials said the “allegation concerning stolen Girl Scout cookies was not a basis for the revocation,” though it was cited in the revocation petition.

Montana: According to a February 14, 2012 news report, two prisoners at the Missoula County Detention Facility, one awaiting trial on a child sex abuse charge and the other a convicted sex offender, got into a fight over the ages of their victims. Shane Maxey, 28, accused of trying to arrange a tryst with an undercover cop posing as a 14-year-old girl online, and Donald Rogers, 47, convicted of sexually assaulting his girlfriend, engaged in a brawl at the jail. Both now face additional assault charges.

New York: For some reason, Queens elementary school teacher Melissa Dean thought it was a good idea to have students in her fifth-grade class send holiday cards to her boyfriend, John Coccarelli. Who was incarcerated at the Groveland Correctional Facility. On charges that included child porn. The students thought the cards were going to people who were sick or staying in homeless shelters. “She didn’t have the school’s permission,” city Special Commissioner of Investigations Richard Condon said in February 2012, after a report concerning an investigation into Dean was released. “She didn’t have the parents’ permission. The children didn’t know they were sending these cards to someone who was an inmate in a correctional facility.”

Ohio: Edwin E. Dulaney, Jr., 47, a guard at the Richland County Jail, resigned in February 2012 when he was indicted on five counts of unauthorized use of law enforcement databases. Dulaney was accused of looking up information on the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway system multiples times over a three-month period. “You’re not permitted to just look people up,” said prosecutor Brent Robinson. “He was looking up people out of curiosity.”

Paraguay: An escape from the Tacumbu prison near the capital city of Asuncion was thwarted by a dog, according to a February 2012 news report. Three prisoners had dug a tunnel from their cell to outside the facility and were in the process of escaping at dawn when the dog began barking, which caused a guard to take notice. “Because of a stray dog we couldn’t escape,” said Hilario Villalba, one of the unlucky prisoners. “When I reached the street, sticking my head out, the stupid dog barked and alerted a guard.”

Tennessee: On March 4, 2012, Kevin Jerome Cox, 45, director of operations at the Hill Detention Center, a Davidson County Sheriff’s Office facility, was arrested in Murfreesboro on charges of weapons possession and violation of the implied consent law. Cox was found unconscious in a vehicle that was still in drive; his foot was on the brake. He smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. Two loaded handguns, a Glock and a revolver, were found in the trunk of his car.

Texas: Prisoners at the Liberty County Jail had access to soft-porn movies on a cable TV channel for months before jail officials took action, even though guards were documenting the problem. “4 Dorm watching porno channel again,” one guard wrote in a log entry on February 3, 2012. The prisoners had managed to bypass Comcast’s control box to gain access to the adult entertainment channels. Comcast delayed fixing the problem, claiming it wasn’t possible for prisoners to view those channels. “What bothers me is that it went on for so long,” said Liberty County judge Craig McNair.

Washington: On January 30, 2012, following a brief standoff, police officers arrested Anthony Rodriguez, 33, a state prison guard at the Washington Corrections Center. Rodriguez allegedly choked and threatened to shoot his wife as they were going through a divorce. The next day he accompanied his wife and children to Skyline Elementary school, where his wife reported the incident and police were notified. Rodriguez drove off, refused to stop, avoided spike strips and would not leave his car for about 45 minutes after finally stopping before he surrendered. A loaded 9mm handgun was found in his car. Rodriguez was jailed with bail set at $500,000.

Washington: Zane Nixon, a guard at the Remann Hall juvenile facility in Tacoma, was arrested on November 23, 2011 for groping at least eight women near Pacific Lutheran University. He was charged with one count of rape, two counts of indecent liberties and seven counts of assault with sexual motivation. Nixon reportedly admitted to the incidents, saying he was “depressed and lonely and [he] grabbed a few girls.” He was fired five days after his arrest.

Washington: In another Facebook-related news report, Pierce County jail guard Alan L. O’Neill, 41, was busted for having two wives and charged with bigamy in March 2012. O’Neill initially married in 2001 when he was named Alan Fulk, then left his wife in 2009, changed his name and remarried. When his second wife created a Facebook page, the site suggested adding O’Neill’s first wife as a friend under the “people you may know” feature. After being charged, O’Neill was placed on administrative leave from his job at the jail. “About the only danger he would pose is marrying a third woman,” quipped Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

Zimbabwe: A guard at the Chikurubi Prison Farm killed himself with a gunshot to the head on January 31, 2012 in front of prisoners at the facility. The guard, identified only as Runatsi, reportedly killed himself after it was discovered that he was having adulterous affairs with other prison employees’ wives. The Zimbabwe Prison Service confirmed that a guard at the camp had shot and killed himself.

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