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News in Brief

Indiana: On June 21, 2012, former state prison guard Benjamin Hankins, 37, was sentenced to 64 years for killing his estranged wife, Lisa, in June 2011. Hankins shot his wife three times when she dropped off their children at his home, then waited several minutes before calling the authorities. Hankins, who was also a Gaston police reserve officer, worked at the Pendleton Correctional Facility at the time. He claimed he was the victim of a police conspiracy.

Nevada: Former Southern Desert Correctional Center guard Michael Ford, 31, pleaded guilty on June 17, 2012 to felony misconduct charges. Ford was prosecuted for trying to smuggle tobacco to prisoners in a large duffle bag. “Our office takes seriously any allegations of corruption by public employees,” said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

New Jersey: Two former prison guards, Ardones V. Livingston, 55, and Latasha Y. Walker, 44, were convicted on June 20, 2012 of accepting $500 to smuggle a cell phone to a prisoner at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel. Both received five-year sentences and were barred from public employment; Livingston also forfeited his state pension. The prisoner who bribed the two guards, Frank Rodriquez, 52, was charged with conspiracy, bribery and possession of a cell phone. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years, to run consecutive to his current sentence. Rodriquez’s girlfriend, Traci C. Baio, 45, who mailed the phone to Walker to smuggle into the prison, received a five-year sentence.

Ohio: Josh Adkins, 34, a former deputy with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, was sentenced to six months in prison on July 9, 2012. Adkins, who pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of using deception to obtain prescription painkillers, had previously worked as a corrections officer at the county jail. “You need to learn that you can’t do this any more,” said Judge Robert Lindeman, who noted that Adkins had also been arrested on a drug-related domestic violence charge. According to Adkins’ attorney, his client’s drug problem was the result of “an injury he suffered on duty. It simply spiraled out of control.”

Oklahoma: On June 7, 2012, six prisoners at the Grady County jail were charged with murder in connection with the May 2012 beating death of Anthony John Mollman. Mollman, a federal prisoner, was being held at the jail while awaiting sentencing; he had reportedly agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and was granted immunity for his testimony before a federal grand jury. “Hell, yeah, they didn’t kill him because they just didn’t like him,” said Irven Box, an attorney hired by Mollman’s widow. “They killed him because he was an informant.” Charged with first-degree murder were Grant Curry, 30; Matthew Eugene Jackson, 26; Cody Sitlington, 31; Steven Nidey, 28; Joseph Patrick Hill, 50; and Jerry Gonzales, 33. The fatal attack on Mollman was caught on surveillance video.

Oregon: Shawn Spevacek, 45, employed as a corrections deputy with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office until he resigned last May, was charged on June 19, 2012 with one count of fourth-degree assault and two counts of first-degree official misconduct, all misdemeanors. He is accused of using excessive force on a jail prisoner. Spevacek, who had served 21 years with the Sheriff’s Office and was named “Supervisor of the Year” in 2007, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was turned in by another deputy.

Pennsylvania: On June 12, 2012, former Beaver County assistant public defender Michael F. Yagercik was charged with trying to smuggle tobacco, marijuana and rolling papers into the Allegheny County Jail. According to an informant he was paid $500 to deliver the contraband, and is suspected of smuggling marijuana to other prisoners at a jail in Ohio. Yagercik, 32, turned himself in and was released on $3,000 bail; he was also previously employed as an assistant district attorney for Beaver County.

Pennsylvania: Federal prison guard Richard Spisak, 33, employed at FDC Philadelphia, was sentenced to 32 months in prison on June 28, 2012 for having male prisoners perform oral sex on him. According to federal prosecutors, Spisak had rearranged the furniture in his office and placed paper on the windows – including prison rules and policies – to block the view of people on the outside in order to facilitate his sexual misconduct. He pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a sexual act, and the court found he had also had sexual contact with two other male prisoners. DNA on the shirt of one of the victims was matched with Spisak.

South Carolina: According to a June 7, 2012 news report, the state Department of Corrections is having a difficult time dealing with contraband cell phones. Prisoners who participated in a June 2012 riot at the Lee Correctional Institution in which a guard was held hostage reportedly used cell phones to issue demands to prison officials. Around 2,500 cell phones are found each year in the state’s 27 prisons, which are smuggled in by prison employees and by prisoners’ friends and visitors.

South Carolina: Saluda County Sheriff Jason Booth was indicted on June 14, 2012 on one count of misconduct in office, and resigned the same day. He was accused of using a state prisoner “on loan” from the Department of Corrections to perform work on his private property. In exchange for building a gate, digging a pond and constructing a “party shed” for Booth, the prisoner was allowed to spend nights outside the jail, eat at restaurants and attend parties on Booth’s property. The former sheriff pleaded guilty to the misconduct charge on August 6, 2012; he was sentenced to one year in prison (suspended to five months probation) plus a $1,000 fine.

Texas: On July 7, 2012, a TDCJ prison transport bus was involved in a head-on collision with a wrecker from Drake’s Towing & Recovery Service. Both drivers in the Drake’s vehicle were hospitalized, one in critical condition; six prisoners and three TDCJ guards received medical treatment at a local hospital. The bus was en route to the Alfred D. Hughes unit in Gatesville when the accident occurred on Interstate 45.

Washington: A female prisoner at the Kent city jail has been cited for indecent exposure for flashing her breasts at a male prisoner, who complained to jail staff because he was offended and “did not like it.” Jail officials then notified the police, as the male prisoner said he wanted to file charges. The female prisoner admitted to the June 18, 2012 incident, saying she was just trying to fit in with other women held at the jail. Neither prisoner was identified in news reports.

Washington: On July 16, 2012, an unexpected visitor made an appearance at the Monroe Correctional Complex: a bobcat. The feline made it through the perimeter fence and then climbed on the roof of the special offender unit after it was spotted by guards. Prison officials contacted a local vet, who shot the bobcat with a tranquilizer gun. It was then captured and removed; after the cat receives treatment for an injured paw and hindquarters, it will be released.

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