News in Brief
Florida: Lake County Jail prisoner George McCovery, 37, was released 9 days early from his 29-day sentence for driving with a suspended license due to his weight loss at the jail. When sentencing McCovery, Judge Donna Miller said she would take a day off his sentence for each pound he lost. McCovery, who weighed 345 pounds before he went in, had lost 25 pounds when he went back before the judge after serving 20 days. Judge Miller is known for offering creative alternative sanctions to defendants, such as having them make greeting cards for patients at medical facilities, enroll in dance classes or work in a community vegetable garden.
Florida: A male teenager said he had been kissed on the cheek by a prisoner during a court-ordered tour of the Orange County jail, according to a November 2011 press release from the Orange County Corrections Department. “Our investigation did find policy violations for which one officer received a two-day suspension without pay, another officer received a written reprimand. The tours coordinator received a one-day suspension without pay for allowing the juveniles to be separated from their parents while inside the jail,” stated Allen Moore, a spokesman for the Corrections Department. Tyrell Staffine, the prisoner involved in the kissing incident, which occurred during a jail tour in February 2011, may face charges of assault or battery.
Georgia: On November 29, 2011, former Fulton County Jail guard Akil Scott, 31, pleaded guilty in federal court to extortion and drug-related offenses. Scott and other deputies were involved in smuggling cellphones, cigarettes and drugs to prisoners. Scott met with an undercover FBI agent and accepted two balloons filled with what he thought was cocaine, which he smuggled into the jail in exchange for $650. Another former Fulton County jailer, Derick Deshun Frazier, 32, was sentenced on January 11, 2012 to six months in federal prison, 3 months of house arrest and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to smuggling cellphones and cigarettes into the jail. A third former guard, Marvie Trevino Dingle, Jr., 34, pleaded guilty to similar charges in November 2011 and awaits sentencing.
Idaho: At the Kootenai County jail, prisoners who can afford to pay can get more than two half-hour visits a week. On October 27, 2011, the Associated Press reported that jail prisoners can have additional visitation time at the rate of $.25 per minute. According to Sheriff’s Captain Kim Edmonson, the extra visiting time was made possible by new equipment that speeds visitor sign-ups. Half the revenue generated from the visitation fees will be paid to the company that provided the equipment.
Illinois: Stateville Correctional Center prisoner Cesar Sanchez, 37, escaped from a transport van while being returned from a court hearing on December 2, 2011. He hopped on the back of a delivery truck, which took him to an area near a waste management yard used to store portable toilets. A Cook County helicopter located Sanchez using infrared sensors, and he was captured in a chemical tank of one of the port-a-potties after six hours on the run. The Will County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois DOC, U.S. Marshals Service, Illinois State Police and Chicago police participated in the search. Sanchez was serving a 7-year sentence for burglary.
Massachusetts: Former MCI-Cedar Junction prison guard Nicholas B. Desmarais, 29, pleaded guilty to charges of disseminating obscene matter and possession of child pornography, and was sentenced to a six-month jail term on November 1, 2011. He was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $250 surfine, and faces termination if he does not resign. According to a state police investigation, Desmarais had received and sent pornographic images of underage girls via email.
Michigan: Ryan Correctional Facility guard Joseph L. Jordan, 27, and former guard Corey L. Young, 37, were arrested on November 24, 2011 on charges of smuggling marijuana and tobacco into the prison. Jordan and Young allegedly accepted money from prisoners’ friends and family members in exchange for delivering the contraband; they were charged with misconduct in office and drug offenses. Also charged was Ryan prisoner Carlos Neely, 29.
Missouri: On November 7, 2011, former state prisoner Danwine Dewayne Renard, 47, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for participating in an identity theft ring while he was incarcerated. Renard and others used stolen identities to open bank accounts, then deposited bad checks and withdrew the money before the scam was discovered. Renard provided advice to other people involved in the scheme while he was serving time in state prison. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire and bank fraud, conspiracy, aiding and abetting bank fraud, and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. In addition to the 12-year prison term, he was ordered to pay $122,943.72 in restitution and forfeit $49,000.
New Hampshire: Two state prisoners may face murder charges after severely beating another prisoner, Anthony Renzzulla, 44, who died in November 2011. Renzzulla had been attacked by fellow prisoners William Edic and Thomas Milton in July 2010. The assault left Renzzulla with major head injuries, and he had been on life support for over a year at the time of his death. Milton and Edic were previously indicted on charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault, assault by a prisoner, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit assault by a prisoner. Another prisoner, Randall Chapman, was charged with falsifying physical evidence and hindering prosecution in relation to the attack on Renzzulla.
New Jersey: On November 9, 2011, Gloucester County Jail guard Thomas C. Hahn, 32, was charged with complicity, conspiracy and official misconduct in connection with an assault on an unidentified 20-year-old prisoner. Hahn is accused of taking the prisoner to an area of the jail with the intent to have him assaulted, and then failed to intervene when another prisoner attacked the victim, who required hospital treatment. Following his arrest, Hahn was released on $25,000 bail.
New Mexico: A guard at the CCA-operated Torrance County Detention Center was arrested on November 24, 2011 after police officers found him smoking heroin in a car with another man in an area known for drug activity and prostitution. CCA guard Stephen Trujillo, 21, reportedly “admitted to smoking the heroin,” according to police Sgt. Robert Gibbs. Trujillo had been busted for marijuana possession in 2010, but that charge was dropped. CCA did not comment on Trujillo’s most recent arrest.
New York: David I. Byrnes, 42, was found not guilty of second-degree assault on October 27, 2011. Byrnes was incarcerated at the Broome County Jail when he was involved in an altercation with a guard; he suffered a broken nose while the guard broke his hand. Apparently, Brynes was prosecuted for assaulting the guard’s hand with his nose. The jury deliberated less than 20 minutes before reaching a not guilty verdict.
New York: Two prisoners at the Watertown Correctional Facility face disciplinary action after putting sugar and lemonade mix in love letters sent to their girlfriends. Prisoners Jafar Torkpour and Desmond McNeil apparently wanted their girlfriends to know they were still “sweet” on them. Instead, the powder they placed in the envelopes leaked out, which led to a hazardous-materials investigation and state police and fire and rescue units responding to the prison on November 18, 2011.
Oklahoma: On October 26, 2011, members of the U.S. Marshals Service Metro Fugitive Task Force and Oklahoma Highway Patrol apprehended escaped prisoner Brian Keith Soileau after spotting him at a Walmart in Norman, north of Oklahoma City. Soileau had escaped from the Pine Prairie Correctional Center, a Louisiana prison operated by LCS Corrections, almost two weeks earlier. He was suspected of robbing a bank while on the run, and was shot after exchanging gunfire with the Marshals and Highway Patrol when he was captured. Soileau had been serving time for aggravated burglary.
Oklahoma: Two prisoners were found hanging in separate cells at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on November 3, 2011. Adam T. Wright, 42, and James R. Thomas, 36, apparently committed suicide. Both were housed in the facility’s maximum-security H Unit, and prison officials are investigating whether they killed themselves as part of a suicide pact. In December 2011, death row prisoner Gary Roland Welch was found bleeding in his H Unit cell following a suicide attempt. Welch had cut his neck with a razor blade; he was treated in the prison’s clinic and later executed on January 5, 2012.
Pennsylvania: Randell Lamar Peterson, 32, a prisoner participating in a work-release program at the Lycoming County jail, was charged on October 4, 2011 with conspiracy, indecent exposure, open lewdness and disorderly conduct for having a sexual tryst with his girlfriend, Amanda Confer, 24, on a city bus. While Peterson and Confer engaged in oral sex and intercourse in the back of the bus, another work-release prisoner, Joshua Schill, sat in front of them and held Confer’s infant daughter. The encounter was filmed by a surveillance camera in the bus; Confer also faces criminal charges.
Utah: On November 2, 2011, Jaime Alvarado, 27, a U.S. citizen, was charged in state district court with giving false material statements (a felony) and giving false personal information to a peace officer (a misdemeanor). During a 2010 arrest, Alvarado had told the police, a judge and immigration officials that he was an illegal immigrant. As a result, instead of going to prison for up to 15 years for possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to distribute, Alvarado was deported. He then returned to the U.S. using his American passport, but was later arrested on an outstanding warrant.