Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

News in Brief

Arizona: Two prisoners at the Yavapai County Jail have been sentenced for their involvement in a fraudulent tax refund scheme. James Borboa pleaded guilty and on September 8, 2013 received an additional term of 18.5 years in prison for using other prisoners’ IDs to file tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012. Justin Eugene Shaw Young, who also participated in the scheme, pleaded guilty in August 2013 and received a mitigated sentence of 6 years. Borboa and Young offered kickbacks of about $1,000 to each prisoner whose ID was used in the tax scam.

California: On August 23, 2013, Robert Eugene Vasquez, 36, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the stabbing death of his neighbor, Bobby Ray Rainwater, Jr. Vasquez had been told by his mother that Rainwater was a child molester, though actually he had been required to register as a sex offender for an offense that did not involve a child. Vasquez attacked Rainwater in their mobile home park, punched him in the back of the head and then stabbed him until he was nearly decapitated.

California: A veteran prison guard at the California Men’s Colony was sentenced to 30 days in jail in August 2013 for accepting bribes. Kevin Jon Venema, 50, was confronted by internal affairs officers who accused him of selling tobacco and cell phones to prisoners. Venema, initially charged with three felonies, pleaded no contest to one count of accepting a bribe as a correctional officer. His sentence included three years of probation in addition to the jail term.

California: Santa Barbara County jail guards Robert Kirsch and Christopher Johnson pleaded not guilty on August 30, 2013 to charges of assaulting a prisoner. They were released on their own recognizance and had no comment after their arraignment. “Our agency does not tolerate the unnecessary or excessive use of force. I am saddened by these allegations,” Sheriff Bill Brown said in a statement.

Colorado: In a 400-page report, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation concluded that wrongdoing by jail officials was not responsible for the in-custody death of Zackary Dean Moffitt, 33, who suffered a cardiac arrest during a confrontation with deputies at the Summit County Jail. As a result of the report, the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office issued a declination letter on August 26, 2013, confirming that they would not pursue criminal charges related to Moffitt’s death.

Florida: A Pasco County Jail nurse’s assistant was fired and arrested on August 27, 2013 after she used her agency laptop to hack into the email accounts of Sheriff Chris Nocco and other top jail staff. Diedre Devonne Fitzgerald, 24, was released on $15,000 bail after she admitted to unlocking passwords and using the hacked accounts to obtain confidential material. She had worked at the jail for almost two years.

Georgia: On September 9, 2013, Georgia state prisoner Jesse Barrett Mainor was charged with impersonating a police officer in connection with a telephone scam. Mainor had made phone calls to at least nine Alabama residents, claimed they had outstanding warrants and attempted to get them to send him money on Green Dot Moneypak cards. A grand jury will decide whether Mainor, who also has outstanding charges in Florida, will face trial on eight other charges related to the phone scam.

Georgia: At a hearing in Bibb County Superior Court on August 26, 2013, former jail guard Nazon Eo’ne Johnson, 22, was sentenced to four years’ probation for bringing alcohol into Central State Prison and violating his oath of office. Another guard, Paris Dewayne Watson, who pleaded guilty to the same charges, admitted the alcohol was for consumption while on duty. Both guards were sentenced as first-time offenders, and must surrender their Peace Officer Standards and Training certification and pay fines and attorney fees in addition to their terms of probation.

Illinois: Kenneth Conley, who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in December 2012 while facing federal bank robbery charges, was sentenced to a prison term of 41 months on February 24, 2014. Conley, 40, and fellow prisoner Joseph Banks had used bed sheets and dental floss to rappel 17 stories from a window at the high-rise jail; they then escaped in a cab. Banks was caught two days later while Conley remained on the run for 18 days. At his sentencing hearing, while the judge was explaining the 41-month sentence for the escape charge, Conley told him, “You can take your analogy and shove it right up your ass.”

India: On September 2, 2013, Jai Shankar, also known as “Psycho Killer Shankar,” a convicted murderer and rapist, escaped from the high-security Parappana Agrahara jail with the help of a duplicate key and a bed sheet, which he used to climb down a wall. Shankar also allegedly scaled two 15-foot walls and wore a police uniform when he absconded. Eleven jail employees were suspended in connection with the escape.

Indiana: Michael Snow, a shift supervisor at the Marion County Jail, was bitten by prisoner Deondre Langston on August 22, 2013. Guards were trying to transfer Langston to the medical unit for a psychological evaluation when he resisted and charged at Snow with his head down. He then wrapped his arms around Snow’s legs and bit him on the thigh. Snow was treated for the bite wound, which broke the skin and caused bruising; he plans to file charges against Langston.

Indiana: On July 30, 2013, Marcus Crenshaw, a guard at the Indiana State Prison, was caught bringing three-quarters of a pound of marijuana into the facility. He was suspended without pay and charged with trafficking with an offender, a Class C felony. Crenshaw was stopped and searched at the start of his shift and found to be in possession of approximately 343 grams of marijuana that DOC officials said was intended for delivery to a prisoner.

Indiana: Two unnamed Indiana State Prison guards were hospitalized following an August 22, 2013 incident in which they were stabbed by prisoner Terrance Swann. One was injured so severely that he had to be airlifted to Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis; the other guard was treated at a Michigan City hospital and returned to work later that same day. The prison was placed on lockdown after the attacks and Swann was transferred to the Westville Correctional Facility.

Kentucky: A contract food service worker was charged with rape and promoting contraband at the Henderson County Detention Center on September 11, 2013. Brittany L. Murch, 26, was jailed on two felony counts of third-degree rape and two felony counts of first-degree promoting contraband. State police said Murch had sex with a prisoner and brought him methamphetamine and alcohol. She pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced on February 25, 2014 to concurrent terms of 12 months on each count of rape and three years on each contraband charge.

Louisiana: As a result of a joint investigation involving the Louisiana State Police and Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office, prison guard Danny Henshaw was charged with using excessive force against a prisoner during a disturbance at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center. Henshaw resigned from the Sheriff’s Office and turned himself in on August 22, 2013. The prisoner was examined by medical staff at the facility but did not report any injuries as a result of the incident.

Maryland: Prince George’s County deputy sheriff Lamar McIntyre pleaded guilty on August 15, 2013 to two counts of sexual misconduct. He was initially charged with rape, but the charges were reduced after the female prisoner he had been accused of assaulting told investigators the sex was consensual. A $15 million lawsuit was filed against the former deputy by the 34-year-old prisoner, who said the incident occurred inside a holding cell while she awaited a court hearing.

Mexico: A prison in the Mexican town of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo, Texas, was the site of yet more violence in Mexico’s overcrowded prison system. On August 29, 2013, eight prisoners were murdered with homemade knives after being transferred to the facility; it was unclear whether the killings were gang-related. In October 2013, PLN reported a violent disturbance at a prison in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi that left 11 prisoners dead and more than 65 injured.

Michigan: Derreck White, also known as Abraham Pearson, attacked Deputy Harrison Tolliver in a holding cell near a Detroit courtroom on September 9, 2013. Using a sharpened comb to stab the guard three times in the neck, White handcuffed Tolliver and left the courthouse wearing his uniform; he then carjacked a minivan and escaped. White was captured later the same night while walking along I-94. Harrison was treated at a local hospital and released.

Mississippi: Tyler Smith, 20, beat fellow prisoner Clifton Majors, 35, to death at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility on September 1, 2013, because he feared that Majors and other prisoners planned to harm him. MDOC Commissioner Christopher Epps said “breaches in security” in the maximum-security area of the prison allowed the deadly assault to occur. Investigators said there was no indication Smith had used a weapon in the attack.

Mississippi: As many as 90 prisoners were released from their cells on August 24, 2013 after an altercation between a guard and a prisoner resulted in the prisoner gaining control of the keys to many of the pods in C Building at the Lauderdale County Jail. Sheriff Billy Sollie said six prisoners were charged with arson, escape, simple assault and aiding escape in connection with the disturbance. Surveillance video helped investigators identify the prisoners involved in the incident.

Nevada: There’s the Mile High Club, then there’s the 2.9 Mile Drive Club. That’s the distance between the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC) and the city jail, which provided prisoners Carlisa Brookins and Alexis Garcia enough time to engage in oral sex while they were being transported in a jail van on August 8, 2013. After the tryst was discovered, Brookins and Garcia were returned to the CCDC where they were charged with voluntary sex with an inmate. Brookins said she performed the act to “make the guys in the back of the bus jealous.”

Nevada: Michael Marcel Law pleaded guilty on January 7, 2014 to felony battery charges stemming from an incident at the Clark County Detention Center. Law walked into the jail with an aluminum baseball bat in September 2013 and proceeded to attack jail guard Darren McCray, who was the first officer he encountered. Law told detectives he was seeking revenge against the police for failing to conduct a proper investigation after he was robbed. He was sentenced to 3–10 years on March 3, 2014.

New Hampshire: On September 4, 2013, the New Hampshire Executive Council rejected a pardon request from Thomas Schoolcraft, a former Cheshire County jail guard who was convicted in 2004 for a series of home burglaries. The Council voted 3-2 to deny the pardon, with Councilmember Christopher Sununu stating that Schoolcraft’s crimes were still “fresh in the minds” of his victims. Schoolcraft is currently pursuing a master’s degree in criminology and had hoped a pardon would allow him to resume working in law enforcement.

New York: While incarcerated at the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility, Joshua Henderson entered another prisoner’s cell, pushed him down and allegedly reached into the victim’s pants and grabbed his genitals. Henderson, 24, was charged with forcible touching and second-degree harassment in connection with the August 30, 2013 incident.

New York: On August 25, 2013, Robert Smalls, an off-duty prison guard, shot his 17-year-old son. There were conflicting accounts regarding what happened. Smalls told investigators he thought there was an intruder and felt he was in immediate danger; his son, Quasaun, told police the two had been arguing. Quasaun fled the hospital before being treated for the gunshot wound, and his father was charged with felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

North Dakota: New Castle Correctional Facility prisoner Michael Howard Hunter mailed a threatening letter to federal judge Rodney Webb on December 12, 2012. He was charged with sending the letter even though Judge Webb had died more than three years earlier, and pleaded guilty on September 2, 2013. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

Ohio: On August 16, 2013, federal prosecutors filed charges against Marlon Tayor, a former guard at the Lorain County Jail, for repeatedly striking a prisoner and causing him bodily injury. The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office had previously released surveillance video of the incident. [See: PLN, Jan. 2013, p.50]. Tayor was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.

Ohio: Death row prisoner Billy Slagle’s August 4, 2013 suicide was accomplished with an “item of permissible property,” according to Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith. Slagle killed himself hours before he was scheduled to be placed on 24-hour suicide watch in advance of his execution for the 1988 stabbing death of Mari Anne Pope during a burglary. Officials at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution would not say what the item was and did not provide details regarding the manner of Slagle’s death.

Ohio: According to Richland County Assistant Prosecutor Brent Robinson, on August 12, 2013, Robert A. Picklesimer, 54, a food service supervisor at the Mansfield Correctional Institution, was indicted on one count of sexual battery, one count of theft in office and two counts of bribery. “He was permitting these inmates to have food in exchange for allowing him to touch them in sexual ways,” Robinson stated.

Oklahoma: Prison officials said Donald Lee Grayson, 61, gained access to a laptop from his prison cell and filed false tax returns using the names and bank accounts of fellow prisoners. In August 2013, Grayson received concurrent sentences of 18 months for each of three counts of filing false returns, and will be required to pay restitution. A guard discovered the scheme after noticing a power cord in Grayson’s cell. Investigators said he received fraudulent tax refunds in the amount of $14,226.

Oklahoma: A lawsuit filed on August 13, 2013 claims that prisoner Philip Thomas Burris, Jr. was forced to have sex with female prison employee Kasey McDonald “50 to 100” times at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center. McDonald was arrested and charged with engaging in sexual misconduct – the fifth such case involving a Joseph Harp employee since 2008. The lawsuit also alleges that Burris’ former case manager supplied him with cell phones and marijuana. “These things happen,” said Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie.

Oklahoma: Mark Gregory Valadez faces additional charges after he was booked into the Oklahoma County jail on September 1, 2013 with a loaded derringer concealed in his rectum. He managed to avoid a metal detector and was only caught after bragging to other prisoners about smuggling the weapon into the facility. Valadez was hospitalized to have the pistol removed and now faces felony charges of possession of contraband in a penal institution.

Pennsylvania: On September 12, 2013, a jury acquitted former veteran federal prison guard Lamont Lucas of having sex with a female prisoner after the defense argued that the prisoner was a habitual liar. [See: PLN, Sept. 2013, p.17]. The jury rejected the prisoner’s story and was presented with powerful character evidence in support of Lucas. An attorney for the defense said Lucas, who had been suspended without pay following the accusations, was unlikely to return to his job with the Bureau of Prisons.

Tennessee: A dietitian at the Unicoi County Jail was arrested on September 6, 2013 and charged with introducing drugs into a penal facility. Faith A. Smith allegedly met with a prisoner’s family member who provided the drugs that she brought into the jail.

Texas: Justin P. MacDonald, 29, was in the Dallas County Jail on a probation violation and just wanted some fresh air. He walked out the front doors of the facility while taking out the trash on July 26, 2013, which prompted a lockdown. MacDonald was spotted walking outside in jail-issued pants with no shirt, and quickly captured. He now faces a felony escape charge. “The investigation is ongoing to determine how the inmate made it to the outside of the facility,” said sheriff’s department spokesman Raul Reyna.

Tunisia: On September 2, 2013, police and soldiers searched for 49 prisoners who had escaped from a facility in the southern coastal town of Gabes. Colonel Hicham Ouni, security director for Tunisia’s prisons, told the Associated Press that the prisoners were mostly young and none were incarcerated for terrorism-related crimes. Tunisia’s prison system is at more than triple capacity, with around 22,000 prisoners.

Utah: Christopher Stein Epperson, a former Wasatch County sheriff’s deputy, was charged with taking advantage of his position as a jail guard to physically abuse two female prisoners. [See: PLN, April 2012, p.1]. He pleaded guilty to the federal charges on August 29, 2013, and faces up to 10 years in prison for each of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

Virginia: Former Augusta Correctional Center guard Brian Peduto was three months into serving a suspended sentence for attempting to have sex with a 12-year-old girl when he began having a sexual relationship with a minor. He was not spared prison the second time, and received a three-year sentence on August 26, 2013. Peduto apologized before he was sentenced, saying, “It’s time for me to stay away from girls in general.”

Washington: A riot broke out at the Pend Oreille County Jail on July 7, 2013, and ten prisoners now face additional charges as a result. Two cells were flooded during the disturbance, which caused water damage in an adjoining courtroom. Although no serious injuries were reported, one prisoner allegedly attacked a guard, another intimidated a witness and there were two prisoner-on-prisoner assaults. The jail was locked down for several hours following the riot.

Washington: Sarah Brooks, a prison therapist specializing in sexual deviancy treatment, was charged with engaging in sexual activity with a sex offender. [See: PLN, Sept. 2013, p.17]. Brooks pleaded guilty on August 20, 2013 to a lesser offense and was sentenced to 24 months on probation. As part of the plea deal she must also complete alcohol treatment and mental health counseling. According to prosecutors, Brooks developed a sexual relationship with a male prisoner; however, he did not want to press charges, which resulted in the reduced charge and plea deal.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login