News in Brief
Alabama: On April 4, 2014, WBRC News reported that six people had been arrested and five others were wanted in connection with a scheme to smuggle drugs hidden in Bibles into the Shelby County Jail. Small index tabs were attached to the Bibles that contained smaller strips of Suboxone. Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force Commander Lt. Kevin Turner said prisoners’ family members and friends had met outside the jail to prepare the Bibles, though it was estimated that less than a dozen were successfully delivered to prisoners. The jail has since changed its policy and no longer allows books to be brought in.
Arizona: After a female prisoner at the Coconino County jail complained to a staff member that guard Pete C. Gomez had asked her to expose herself, Gomez admitted to the misconduct. Flagstaff police opened an investigation into the allegations, and on April 9, 2014, Gomez was arrested on suspicion of unlawful sexual conduct in a correctional facility. Police Sgt. Cory Runge told reporters, “We don’t want to damage the public trust with law enforcement so we try to be transparent and be as forth-coming as possible. We take these things very seriously.”
Brazil: The tally following an April 29, 2014 riot at the Eunapolis prison in Bahia state was 5 dead and 8 wounded. The disturbance began after guards announced a surprise inspection; around 350 prisoners participated in the riot, gaining control of cell blocks and setting fire to mattresses. The deaths were attributed to rival gang members taking advantage of the chaos to attack each other, and some prisoners were reportedly injured by a homemade bomb. Officials said the prisoners neither presented their reasons for the riot nor made demands.
Canada: On April 20, 2014, former boxer and wrongly convicted ex-prisoner Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died of complications from prostate cancer in Toronto. In 1985, a federal judge ruled that Carter had served 19 years in prison due to an unfair trial for a triple murder that he and co-defendant John Artis had not committed. Carter’s story was made into a film, “The Hurricane,” starring Denzel Washington, and was also the subject of a Bob Dylan song.
Colorado: A possible norovirus outbreak at the Territorial Prison in Cañon City left 70 prisoners quarantined on April 12, 2014. The virus, which can be spread by poor sanitation, is easily controlled with bleach; however, prisoners on cleaning details were only allowed to use a mild dishwashing soap and restrooms for prisoners were not stocked with hand soap. The quarantine extended to the suspension of visitation and volunteer programs. The Denver Post reported that 244 prisoners had been sickened in four facilities throughout the state, but only one case of norovirus was confirmed at the Territorial Prison.
Connecticut: On March 17, 2014, Christopher Anello, a guard at the Bridgeport Correctional Center, was fired from his job; the following day he was arrested and charged with second-degree threatening and second-degree breach of peace. The Connecticut State Police said another guard reported that prior to being terminated, Anello had vowed he would “shoot up” the prison if he ever lost his job. Anello had a valid gun permit and seven guns were registered in his name at the time of his arrest. He was released on a written promise to appear in court.
District of Columbia: A guard employed at the Corrections Corporation of America-run Correctional Treatment Facility was arrested on April 21, 2014 and charged with accepting bribes from an undercover FBI agent to smuggle contraband to a prisoner, including a cell phone and cigarettes. Darren Malry, 51, pleaded guilty to the charges on October 17, 2014 and awaits sentencing. Another CCA guard at the facility, Lenard Fleming, 34, pleaded guilty to similar contraband smuggling charges on November 13, 2014.
Florida: A man who served time for child abuse and developed his skills as a jailhouse lawyer while incarcerated used them to bilk a prisoner’s family out of $70,000 by posing as a licensed attorney. Imer Armando Perez used a fictitious name and address to convince the family of Scotty Posada to retain his legal services. He claimed he had spoken to prosecutors and that Posada’s 27-year sentence for kidnapping would be vacated. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Perez had also attempted to defraud a defendant facing criminal charges. On April 16, 2014, the Miami Herald reported that Perez had vanished as state authorities tried to locate him so he could be arrested.
Florida: Deputy Christopher Doyal, a Calhoun County jail guard, was charged with one count of battery against prisoner Ventura Brown for using excessive force during an altercation in Brown’s cell. Brown alleged that Doyal choked him and punched him in the face repeatedly while holding keys in his hand, resulting in a chipped front tooth. On March 31, 2014, the State Attorney’s Office announced its intention to prosecute Doyal, saying it was in possession of audio and video evidence of the incident.
Georgia: Identity theft and wire fraud netted Bradford Thomas 121 months in federal prison after he filed more than 1,200 false tax returns and claimed $5.5 million in fraudulent refunds using stolen identities, many of which belonged to prisoners. Thomas, 47, was sentenced on March 10, 2014 after pleading guilty; in addition to prison time he must pay more than $1.6 million in restitution to the IRS and serve three years on supervised release.
Georgia: On April 23, 2014, a Dekalb County jailer was arrested and charged with rape, sodomy and furnishing alcohol to an underage person after a 19-year-old woman reported she had been sexually assaulted. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Keenan Notae, 24, who was suspended without pay following his arrest and initially booked into jail on $500 bond. He was scheduled for an arraignment hearing on November 17, 2014.
Georgia: A tip from a prisoner at the Decatur County Prison led to the arrest of the facility’s dietician, Latoya Biggles, on March 6, 2014. Biggles was caught on a hidden camera having consensual sex with two prisoners in the kitchen’s dry storage area. She would move large bread racks to provide privacy to carry out the sex acts. “I won’t tolerate it and the department policy is zero tolerance,” said Warden Elijah McCoy. “If you’re violating these policies you’re going to jail.” Biggles was charged with two counts of sexual assault.
Greece: An Albanian prisoner at the Nigrita prison died after being severely beaten and possibly tortured in retaliation for stabbing a guard to death. Ilie Kareli, 42, died on March 27, 2014 due to heart failure. He had an injury on the palm of his hand indicating he was shocked by an electric current, and there was evidence he had been beaten on the soles of his feet. One news report stated Kareli “was found with his heart torn from his chest and missing an eye.” Prisoners in at least four Greek prisons staged a hunger strike to protest Kareli’s death. Nigrita guards denied any involvement in the incident, but four were indicted on criminal charges in April 2014. Kareli killed the guard after being denied a visit to see his mother, who was extremely sick.
Hawaii: About eight prisoners at Honolulu’s Federal Detention Center began a hunger strike on April 6, 2014 in protest of conditions that included maggots in food, loss of family visits and lack of clean underwear in their segregation unit. Prison officials said the allegations were unfounded; however, attorney Neal Kugiya provided letters from prisoners participating in the protest claiming that none of the hunger strikers had done anything to warrant placement in segregation. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said prisoners were only segregated for disciplinary measures or their own protection.
Illinois: Javier and Veronica Acevedo were found dead in their home on April 20, 2014, victims of an apparent murder-suicide. Javier Acevedo was a Cook County jail guard and his wife was a Chicago police officer. According to a spokesperson for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the initial determination was that Javier first shot his wife and then killed himself. He had a history of violence, having previously been investigated for a road rage incident.
Iran: Gholamhossein Esmaili, the head of Iranian prison services, was replaced after allegations surfaced that guards had beaten dozens of political prisoners at the Evin prison in Tehran. On April 22, 2014, a group of lawmakers urged Iran’s justice minister to look into the claims, which had sparked a protest by the prisoners’ family members. According to Fars News, prison officials denied claims of wrongdoing. Esmaili was transferred to a position as director general of the Justice Department in Tehran – a move considered by some to be a promotion.
Kentucky: Deputy Belinda A. Morton, 43, was fired from her job at the Mason County Detention Center after an investigation revealed that she gave her phone number to a male prisoner. On March 5, 2014, she was charged with stealing the identities of two prisoners, one male and one female, who complained that their personal information was used to apply for several credit cards. [See: PLN, Nov. 2014, p.56]. Morton pleaded guilty to identity theft and fraudulent use of a credit card in October 2014; she has not yet been sentenced.
Louisiana: On April 11, 2014, Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office announced that a glitch in a kiosk meant for filing grievances had allowed prisoners at the Orleans Parish Prison to access YouTube, Facebook and other Internet sites. Phillip Stelly, a spokesman for the department, said the Sheriff’s Office did not know how many prisoners were able to visit the websites or for how long. The software vendor was notified of the glitch and an upgrade was planned. Pending the completion of the upgrade, prisoners had to file grievances using a paper-based system.
Mississippi: An April 2, 2014 news release announced the arrests of two guards at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility for using a creative method to introduce contraband into the prison. Erling Gresham, 26, was busted when prison officials found 2.80 ounces of tobacco tucked inside bread disguised as a submarine sandwich. In an unrelated incident, Tamikta Russell, 34, had been arrested four days earlier for trying to smuggle contraband in a Tupperware container with 48.7 grams of marijuana and 6.40 ounces of tobacco wrapped inside what appeared to be burritos. Both guards face charges of possession of prohibited items, and Russell was also charged with possession of marijuana.
New Jersey: Letters containing phrases such as “To My Power House, Lover, Friend, Future and my Mr. Wonderful,” “I am willing to do anything (almost) and everything for my man (You)” and “I am in love with you” led to the firing of a female guard at the Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility accused of having a relationship with a male prisoner. Dana Register admitted she had written the letters, but described her interaction with the prisoner, identified only as T.W., as friendly and not sexual in nature. On April 21, 2014, an administrative law judge upheld Register’s dismissal, saying, “no reasonable person could assess the language and messages [the letters] convey as mere tokens of friendly interest, as she insists.”
New York: Officials with the New York State Correctional Officer and Police Benevolent Association issued a press release in which they described a “large scale fight” that occurred at the Bare Hill Correctional Facility on April 21, 2014. The brawl started after prisoners disagreed about the television programming chosen for the dorms; at least 12 injuries were reported, including two that required hospital treatment. Several prisoners faced disciplinary action for participating in the disturbance.
Ohio: David Martin, Richard Ware and Kevin Johns, incarcerated at the Trumbull County jail, tied a cell door shut with bed sheets and held a guard hostage on April 23, 2014. The incident began around 3 p.m. and the unidentified guard was released unharmed about five hours later and taken to a local hospital for evaluation, but suffered no serious injuries. The prisoners, jailed pending trial on serious charges – with one facing capital murder – were transferred to a maximum-security facility in Youngstown.
Oklahoma: Prison officials issued a statement on March 9, 2014 that described the carelessness of a guard who left a loaded gun unattended while supervising a pregnant prisoner at the University of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. The unnamed guard used a public restroom and left her gun belt on the floor, where a concerned citizen found the weapon and turned it in. Chief James Albertson of the University’s Health Sciences Center Police Department said that although a report on the incident had been filed with the District Attorney, charges were declined and the matter was referred to the Department of Corrections. “Our No. 1 priority is protection of the public,” the DOC said in a statement. “We take the allegation very seriously. We have started an investigation.”
Paraguay: On April 21, 2014, a riot broke out at a juvenile correctional facility in the city of Itaugua, and two teenage prisoners died when guards opened fire with live ammunition rather than the rubber bullets they were supposed to use. Justice Vice Minister Ever Martinez told reporters that two guards had been arrested for using lethal force. A third prisoner, age 16, escaped during the riot, which was reportedly sparked by a demand for more television time.
Tennessee: Dallas Archer, 19, had a surprise in store for guards at the Kingsport jail when she was searched following her April 21, 2014 arrest for driving with a suspended license. A preliminary search revealed that Archer had an “unknown object” protruding from her crotch. When another guard assisted in a more thorough search, a loaded five-shot, .22 mini-revolver was found to be concealed in Archer’s lady parts. The gun had been stolen, and Archer was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, introducing contraband into the jail and possession of stolen property.
Tennessee: A beauty pageant for female prisoners was held at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in January 2014, and four employees – three guards and a supervisor – later faced disciplinary action. On April 24, 2014, WSMV Channel 4 reported on the event based on disciplinary reports and a letter from the prisoner who was crowned queen of the pageant. Contestants allegedly had to “twerk,” staff members judged the contest and one prisoner was reportedly injured when she fell off a chair. The pageant was videotaped but state prison officials declined to release the video, citing security concerns.
Texas: On March 10, 2014, Tamara Bundage pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 days in jail, 5 years’ probation, a $2,500 fine and 300 hours of community service. Bundage, 26, formerly a civilian guard at the Harris County jail, had been charged with providing contraband to prisoners – cigarettes, drugs and cell phones. Two other jail employees, Gertrudis A. Reyes and Dominique N. Duncan, were charged in February with introducing contraband into the facility [see: PLN, Dec. 2014, p.56], while civilian jailers Lauren N. Sandefer and Branden C. Paez were charged on April 14 and 23, 2014, respectively, with smuggling prohibited items to prisoners.
Texas: Juan Aguilar, 26, a kitchen employee at the GEO Group-run South Texas Detention Complex, pleaded not guilty on March 26, 2014 to charges of engaging in sexual activity with a male immigration detainee. Prosecutors alleged that Aguilar had performed oral sex on the detainee in the facility’s kitchen. A federal jury found him guilty of sexual abuse of a ward in September 2014, and he awaits sentencing.
Texas: On March 24, 2014, seven Texas Department of Criminal Justice guards were arrested and booked into the Tyler County jail for assaulting a prisoner at the Gib Lewis Unit. After an unidentified prisoner made threats against a female guard, the seven officers allegedly entered his cell and engaged in a use of force that they did not report. The prisoner said he was sexually penetrated with an unknown object during the attack. The defendants, who face charges of official oppression, include Lt. Darrick Seale, Sgt. Frank Mraz, Sgt. Claude Kelley III and guards Andrea Creel, Joseph Coons, Jamie Christian and David Spence.
United Kingdom: Jude Medcalf is 7 feet, 2 inches tall due to a growth disorder called Klinefelter syndrome. Although he had committed several crimes, Medcalf, 23, was freed after 75 days in custody because he was too big for prison beds or uniforms. Judge Adam Vaitilingam commented on his decision to release Medcalf, saying that the “temptation is to pass a lengthy sentence,” but that Medcalf’s disorder had likely caused him problems throughout his life. In March 2014, Vaitilingam pronounced a sentence of six months curfew and 12 months of community supervision.
United Kingdom: Roger Stevens, 58, incarcerated at HMP Leyhill, a Category D prison in Tortworth, became overwhelmed with the rap music played by younger prisoners and constant offers to participate in drug deals, so he climbed over a wall on March 9, 2014. He was captured 20 days later. In court on April 22, 2014, Stevens was sentenced to an additional ten months for his escape. At the sentencing, Judge Roger Jarvis stated, “The reason for your escape has been explained to me as your unhappiness at people who were with you in prison. I’m afraid that’s one of the prices people pay if they commit crimes and go to prison.”
Uruguay: Uruguayan prisoners will be able to use marijuana for physical or mental health problems if prescribed by a doctor. On April 8, 2014, Uruguay’s social development minister, Daniel Olesker, said at a medical marijuana symposium that medicinal pot, along with acupuncture and homeopathic treatments, will become part of the country’s public health programs. Uruguay is also the first nation in the world to allow the legal, regulated sale of recreational marijuana, based on legislation passed in 2013.
Utah: During a trial in a Salt Lake City federal courtroom on April 21, 2014, Siale Angilau, 25, lunged at a testifying witness with a pen and was shot four times by a U.S. Marshal. Angilau, who was alleged to be a member of the Tongan Crips Gang, died later the same day at a local hospital. The witness he tried to attack was reportedly a member of the same gang. The shooting resulted in Utah’s prison system being placed on lockdown, with the DOC stating the lockdown was not punitive but was to “ensure the safety of the prisoners and the staff.”
Washington: Video evidence corroborated the allegations of Terry Bloor, a female prisoner in the Benton County jail’s work release program, who claimed guard Oscar Gonzalez had inappropriate sexual contact with her. Gonzalez was fired on April 18, 2014 following his arrest on custodial sexual misconduct charges; he pleaded guilty the following month and was sentenced to two days in jail and 362 days suspended. Benton County Sheriff Steve Keane said the former guard’s actions were “hard to swallow.”
Washington: A former Franklin County jail guard was charged on April 24, 2014 with two counts of custodial sexual misconduct. Justin Thomas Husom, 41, was accused of having sex with two prisoners in exchange for a shaving razor. An internal investigation was launched after rumors spread that Husom was having sexual contact with a female prisoner; the assaults were thought to have occurred in a storage room not monitored by surveillance cameras. Husom, who resigned the month before he was charged, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on September 12, 2014 to ten months in jail. He will have to register as a sex offender.
West Virginia: On July 31, 2014, Jeffrey S. Walton was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for abusive sexual contact with a female prisoner. He had initially faced two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Walton admitted that he touched the breasts of a prisoner at FPC Alderson when he was the prisoner’s work supervisor at the facility.
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