News in Brief
Alabama: Antwone Wilson broke out of the St. Clair County Correctional Facility on December 4, 2017 along with fellow prisoner Ronald Odell King. The pair separated, and King was quickly captured. While on the lam, Wilson contacted a TV station in his hometown to clarify why he had run. “Basically, I escaped prison because I refuse to sit in prison for a crime I didn’t commit,” Wilson explained in an interview with WBRC-TV, before disappearing again for another five days. The U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force tracked him down at a Florida hotel, where Wilson surrendered without incident. Both prisoners now face additional escape charges.
California: Chase Ganey, a 25-year-old former participant in Humboldt County’s Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP), lost his left hand in a logging accident while serving in the program in lieu of an eight-month jail term. On November 30, 2017, KIEM-TV reported that Ganey had hired attorney Eric Levine to pursue legal action against the county for his injury. “I had no instructions on the machine, never had seen a manual, never had even seen the machine in my life,” Ganey said. Doctors were able to reattach his hand, but Ganey now requires regular physical therapy to address limited mobility in the extremity.
California: At the aging Lerdo Pre-Trial Jail Facility it is easy for prisoners to leave their cells; such incidents have become so commonplace that one guard commented, “They come out whenever they want. We can’t keep them in.” A large-scale riot in February 2018 was blamed chiefly on prisoners’ ability to exploit the jail’s security weaknesses. On March 13, 2018, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood requested $1.7 million from the county’s Board of Supervisors to replace decrepit lock mechanisms as an emergency measure. Youngblood’s letter explained that more than half the jail’s 448 cells have malfunctioning locks that have been jammed with spoons, cloth, cardboard and other objects by prisoners who are able to leave their cells at will, and often do so to assault other prisoners.
Canada: A former Correctional Service of Canada job-skills program supervisor was sentenced on August 2, 2018 to four months in prison for helping a prisoner escape from the federal Bowden Institution in 2015. Peter Edgar, 62, admitted that he developed a personal relationship with prisoner Sylvain Martin while Martin was serving time for fraud in the prison’s minimum-security wing. Court records indicate that Edgar provided Martin with $100,000 during the course of their relationship, some of which was used to facilitate Martin’s escape from the facility in Alberta. He fled to Calgary and then to Quebec, where the pair met up and partied together until Martin was recaptured.
Delaware: Two guards who formerly worked at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center were sentenced for their roles in a widespread drug and cell phone smuggling operation at the facility. Thomas Nadill Boyce Jr., 51, a 20-year DOC employee, received a prison term of three years on December 6, 2017. The court refused his request for home confinement. Paul Hursey, 49, was sentenced to 30 months on January 3, 2018. According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Hursey was personally responsible for the introduction of at least 30 cell phones into the facility and also distributed drugs, including heroin, in exchange for cash bribes. “Few things threaten our society more than public servants who betray their oath for personal gain,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson.
Florida: State Attorney Brad King announced on November 17, 2017 that guards who struggled with a K2-intoxicated prisoner who later died had contributed to the man’s death but broke no laws. On March 28, 2017, Jose G. Villegas was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell at the Lake Correctional Institution. When guards performed a “sternum rub” to resuscitate Villegas, he awoke and became combative. A group of six guards ultimately restrained and handcuffed him, but by the time he was transported to a medical unit he was not breathing. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The Medical Examiner’s office reported “restraint asphyxia with a contributing cause of excited delirium” as Villegas’ cause of death.
Georgia: Gregory McLeod, 44, a former lieutenant who worked as a supervisor at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, was sentenced on March 26, 2018 to 20 months in prison plus a three-year term of supervised release for writing false reports in an effort to cover up his use of excessive force against a prisoner in a 2016 incident. Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said “McLeod’s violent actions, and attempt to obstruct justice, blatantly violated the inmate’s civil rights. This Justice Department will not tolerate any abuse of power by a law enforcement officer and will continue to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law.” Special Agent Robert A. Bourbon added, “Violence against inmates and false reporting have no place in the federal prison system.”
Idaho: Registered sex offenders in an Idaho county and six counties in Florida were targeted in a telephone scam, according to a February 13, 2018 statement released by the Idaho State Police. The callers posed as law enforcement officers and claimed the victim had failed to register or had outdated registration information, then ordered them to bring a money card or gift card to a location other than the Idaho Central Sex Offender Registry’s office. In some of the calls, the victim was given a callback number to a voicemail account that mimicked a legitimate registry phone message. In another version of the scam, the victim was told they had a warrant and were required to provide a payment over the phone to clear it. The Idaho State Police asked anyone who received such a call to report it immediately.
Illinois: FCI Greenville prisoner James L. Gary was sentenced on December 1, 2017 to an additional 10-year prison term after pleading guilty to attempting to smuggle high-grade methamphetamine into the facility with the help of an outside accomplice, Candace J. Weakley. U.S. Attorney Don Boyce said an investigation revealed that Gary coordinated the introduction of contraband and distributed drugs inside the facility. The conspiracy was thwarted after guards intercepted a newspaper Weakley had mailed to the prison, in which she concealed meth. She pleaded guilty in 2016 to providing contraband and was sentenced to 70 months.
Illinois: On November 8, 2017, Sheriff Tom Dart filed a 13-page complaint with the Cook County Sheriff’s Merit Board that alleged veteran county jail guard Alexander Perteete had abused his eligibility for paid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. According to investigators with the sheriff’s Office of Professional Review, Perteete called out of work 61 times between January 2016 and July 2017. Some of his absences, excused by a doctor’s diagnosis of an “intermittent medical condition,” were found to coincide with Perteete’s social media postings about trips to Miami, Cancun, Mexico and a local casino, where he bragged that his mother had “hit it big.” Dart’s complaint recommended that Perteete be fired. The Merit Board has not yet released its decision.
Indiana: According to a March 1, 2018 news report, officials in Delaware County reported they had agreed to purchase a former middle school to use as a jail. County officials approved a resolution to buy the building for almost $2.9 million. It will cost an additional $37 million to $45 million to convert it into a 500-bed jail; construction is expected to last two years. The purchase was made due to a need for more bedspace at the county’s existing jail. “We have maxed out the release programs and need to house more inmates rather than release them on pre-trial,” said Sheriff Ray Dudley.
Indiana: On December 5, 2017, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced the arrest of federal Bureau of Prisons guard Leon Perry III, 41, on criminal charges that included permitting escape, conspiracy to permit escape, accepting a bribe, conspiracy to bribe public officials and providing contraband in a prison. Perry, who had worked as a BOP guard for 10 years, patrolled the prison grounds as the Reservation Patrol Officer at FCI Terre Haute. According to a Department of Justice press release, the indictment alleges Perry allowed prisoners to leave the compound to have sex with women at local hotels and to smuggle in contraband including alcohol, cell phones and drugs. In exchange for bribes, he agreed to patrol areas of the facility away from the point of egress. If convicted, Perry faces up to 15 years in prison.
Indiana: Privatizing Indiana’s prison medical services by contracting them to Wexford Health Sources was supposed to be an important step in the state’s fight against drug abuse. The company’s security and prescription practices came under fire on January 17, 2018, however, when officials at the New Castle Correctional Facility announced they had discovered 8,114 doses of prescription gabapentin had gone missing from the prison’s pharmacy in the previous two months. The frequently-abused medication is commonly known by the brand name Neurontin, and is used to treat seizures and nerve pain. Although gabapentin is neither an opioid nor a federally-controlled substance, it is often abused in prison environments because it can boost the high caused by narcotics, quell withdrawal symptoms and block the effects of addiction-treatment medications.
Louisiana: Louisiana Department of Corrections spokesman Ken Pastorick said a trio of sergeants who worked at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola resigned from their positions after being arrested following separate incidents of misconduct. Amber Sanders, 22, was busted on January 5, 2018 when she was caught with two cell phones and chargers plus an ounce of synthetic marijuana inside the facility. Keyshawnna Rogers, 24, had a “large cache” of several types of drugs with her when she arrived for work on January 7, 2018. She was charged with felony introduction of contraband. And on January 8, 2018, Diamond Nicholson, 23, admitted to an ongoing sexual relationship with a prisoner, and was arrested on a charge of felony sexual malfeasance.
Mississippi: On November 12, 2017, South Mississippi Correctional Institution guard Megan Lynne Deese pleaded guilty to attempting to introduce contraband and was sentenced to placement in the Recidivism Reduction Program in lieu of a five-year prison term. Deese was caught trying to smuggle 15 cigars, five Bluetooth headsets, 10 cell phone batteries and 22 cell phones into the facility in May 2015. In a separate case, Mississippi State Penitentiary guard Candace Mason, 31, was arrested on November 9, 2017 and charged with engaging in sex with a prisoner. DOC Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall said in a statement, “Hearing about both of these cases within days of each other while we are trying to move corrections forward in Mississippi was not pleasant news, but the message needs to be understood that zero tolerance is for everyone, including staff.”
Missouri: A 30-year-old woman stepped forward on November 10, 2017 to alert authorities she had been sexually assaulted by Belton Police Department jail detention guard Emmanuel B. Wilbourn. The victim, who was a sex worker, said she had met Wilbourn during a previous jail stay and, after her release, had sex with him for money before being jailed again. She said during the incident at the jail, Wilbourn entered her cell, put on a condom and sexually assaulted her both orally and vaginally. Investigators found a used condom in the jail’s trash and confirmed that “there had in fact been inappropriate contact between the employee and an inmate.” Wilbourn was subsequently charged with two felony counts of having sexual contact with a prisoner; he was placed on administrative leave pending termination proceedings.
Missouri: Morgan County jail nurse Janet Phillips and two other staffers face numerous charges after Phillips admitted to having a sexual relationship with prisoner Vernon Parker. Guards Elizabeth Knipp and Robert Hoover acknowledged they knew about the affair and conspired to facilitate the sexual activity. Phillips was charged on December 11, 2017 with sexual conduct with a prisoner by a jail employee, bribery of a public servant and two counts of delivering contraband to a prisoner. Knipp faces charges of delivery of a prohibited item, concealing a felony, acceding to corruption by a public servant and sexual conduct with a prisoner by a jail employee. Hoover, who told authorities Phillips said she intended to start a life with Parker on the outside, was charged with sexual conduct with a prisoner and delivery of a prohibited item.
Nebraska: On February 20, 2018, Douglas County District Judge James Gleason sentenced former county jailer Doloma Curtis, 48, for her role as the center of a love triangle that turned deadly. Curtis, who will serve 3 to 5 years in prison for being an accessory to the crime, was romantically involved with Rolander Brown, 27, and Carlos Alonzo, 40. On May 28, 2016, Brown came to Curtis’ house to confront Alonzo and shot him point-blank in the forehead. Curtis later refused to cooperate with law enforcement and ignored a subpoena to testify at Brown’s trial. Prosecutor Chad Brown said, “I find it a little troublesome that an individual of her age, occupation and education ... continued to compound her mistakes.” Curtis had been a Douglas County jail guard for 12 years.
Nebraska: Aleasha Gutierrez, 27, a former Nebraska State Penitentiary corporal, was charged on December 4, 2017 with felony unlawful communication to a prisoner. Investigators with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said in an arrest affidavit that Gutierrez admitted she wrote an unauthorized letter to a prisoner who had seen her crying and asked about her personal life. Gutierrez subsequently pleaded guilty on September 17, 2018 to unlawful acts by a corrections employee. Judge John Colborn ordered her to serve 12 months of probation and pay $390 in fines. Gutierrez worked as a guard for just five months.
New York: PLN has previously reported on the conviction of former Rikers Island jail guard Rodiny Calypso for filing a false report regarding his use of force against a prisoner. [See: PLN, Mar. 2018, p.63; Nov. 2017, p.32]. Calypso was sentenced on November 30, 2017. He appeared at his hearing dressed in a long white coat, white trousers and shiny black and white shoes – quite a formal outfit for such an occasion. His fashion statement will be his last for a while. The sharp-dressed former jailer was ordered to serve 16 months in prison, where he will have plenty of time to become accustomed to less glamorous threads.
North Carolina: Christopher Bishop, 42, was arrested on February 16, 2018 after attempting to smuggle contraband into the Sampson Correctional Institution. The North Carolina Correctional Enterprise laundry supervisor was caught when he came to work with a duffel bag containing tobacco, 60 grams of marijuana and two cell phones. Bishop was charged with misdemeanor providing products to an inmate and felony counts of providing a phone to an inmate and providing contraband to an inmate. “I want to commend the alert staff who stopped the contraband from making it into the facility,” Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks stated.
Ohio: On November 15, 2017, prosecutor Joe Deters described “one of the most disturbing cases we’ve ever dealt with” when he announced the indictment of Hamilton County Clerk of Courts employee Yakyma Boyd, 45, who had worked for the Clerk’s Office for 22 years. Boyd allegedly accepted bribes to disclose sensitive search warrant information to co-defendant Ernest Bryant, 49, who then warned the targets before police executed the warrants. “We don’t know how long it was going on,” Deters said, adding that Boyd was paid around $1,000 per search warrant. Both Bryant and Boyd were charged with bribery, tampering with evidence, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and obstructing justice. Boyd was also indicted on a charge of theft in office.
Ohio: PLN previously reported the indictment of former Dayton Correctional Institution chaplain Kenneth Bozeman, 53, who was sentenced on November 13, 2017 to a five-year term of probation after being found guilty on nine counts of sexual battery. [See: PLN, July 2016, p.28]. Prosecutors argued for a prison sentence, but Bozeman’s attorney countered that the sexual activity was consensual and probation was appropriate. Bozeman will be required to register as a sex offender. His victim, identified by authorities as a female prisoner serving 18 years to life on a 2011 murder conviction, initially reported the sexual contact in August 2015.
Oregon: Nicholas Martin, a former Clackamas County jail detainee, filed a federal lawsuit on November 30, 2017 that alleged he was forced to drink from a feces-filled toilet when guards cut off water to his suicide-watch cell for four days. Despite his complaints to guards throughout the ordeal, the water was restored and he was released from suicide watch only after intervention from two mental health workers and a compassionate jailer. The lawsuit claimed violations of Martin’s civil rights and cruel and unusual punishment. He is seeking unspecified damages.
Oregon: On December 8, 2017, the Tualatin Police Department arrested Lorrie Marie Hocker, 42, who had escaped four days earlier from the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. Hocker, who police described as a violent prisoner, jumped from a transport van while en route to a work release assignment. Oregon Department of Corrections spokeswoman Betty Bernt said transport guards did not pursue Hocker as she fled. “If there are other inmates in the vehicle they wouldn’t pursue that individual automatically,” she explained.
Pennsylvania: Prosecutors agreed to withdraw charges of official oppression, institutional sexual assault and possession of a contraband telecommunications device in exchange for a guilty plea to a single count of possessing an instrument of crime from former SCI-Mahanoy guard Traci L. Williams. Judge Jacqueline L. Russell accepted the plea on March 2, 2018 and ordered Williams to serve two years on probation and pay court costs and a special assessment. Williams admitted that she provided a cell phone to a prisoner with whom she’d developed a personal relationship. “Any kind of fraternization between inmates and officers is not tolerated,” Department of Corrections spokeswoman Amy Worden said, adding that Williams had been fired by the department in February 2017.
Pennsylvania: Ricky Battles was released from SCI-Somerset on February 5, 2018 after serving more than 40 years for the fatal shooting of a family member. Battles won’t start his new life on the outside alone; “Sweet Pea,” a dog Battles began training for the Canine Partners for Life service dog program, didn’t make the cut as a working dog and was allowed to go home with him. Battles, who was convicted at age 16, was resentenced following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), which held mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. “Because I know I’m not who I was when I was 16,” he said of his release, “I’m a good man and I’ve got a good heart, and a good soul. But it doesn’t change the fact that I took a human life.”
Pennsylvania: On August 24, 2018, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady announced the sentencing of Ghassan Saleh, 66, who escaped from the McKean Federal Correctional Institution in Bradford, Pennsylvania in 1997 and fled to his native country of Lebanon. He was ultimately rearrested two decades later when he flew into New York from overseas in November 2017. Brady said in a statement that Saleh, who was initially sentenced to a 70-month prison term on drug charges, was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge David S. Cercone to serve another 12 months and 1 day for the escape, consecutive to his original sentence. According to Deputy U.S. Marshal Chad Sensor, Saleh was aware he was wanted when he decided to return to the United States.
Peru: National Police of Peru agents tracked down Alexander Jheferson Delgado Herrera and arrested him on February 12, 2018, over a year after he escaped from the Ancón I prison, also known as Piedras Gordas, while serving a 16-year sentence for child sexual abuse and robbery. The escape itself stunned authorities – including former justice minister Marisol Pérez Tello, who said “It’s unbelievable. In 12 years nobody has escaped from Ancón I.” The method used was indeed innovative. On January 10, 2017, Alexander Herrera received a visit from his twin brother Giancarlo Herrera. During the visit, Alexander drugged his brother, changed into his clothes and walked out of the prison, leaving Giancarlo behind to face allegations of helping Alexander escape. The charges against Giancarlo Herrera were eventually dropped.
Tennessee: A guard employed by private prison contractor CoreCivic threatened to shoot up a church before reporting to work on February 18, 2018 at the South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton. He was arrested on the grounds of the prison by the Clifton Police Department, which confiscated an AR-15, an assault-style shotgun, a bolt-action rifle and nearly 1,500 rounds of ammunition from 35-year-old guard Daniel Toler. Clifton City Manager Doug Kibbey told News 2 investigators he had reason to believe Toler intended to carry out his threat when he finished his shift that evening. “I’m very proud of my officers,” Kibbey added.
Texas: On December 5, 2017, Harris County Assistant District Attorney Jules Johnson announced charges against five county jail guards who beat a prisoner “to the point he was unrecognizable.” Surgeons said they had to put a metal plate in Jerome Bartee’s face to repair his badly damaged eye socket and broken nose; Bartee’s attorney said his client now suffers from impaired vision and issues with his left eye following the attack. Guards Napoleon Harmon, Andrew Rowell, Jeremy Ringle and Joshua Degler face 5 to 99 years in prison if convicted of felony aggravated assault by a public servant. The fifth guard, Salvador Garibay, faces a year in jail and a fine for a misdemeanor assault charge.
Texas: Matthew McGaugh, 39, a case manager at the Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, was sentenced on November 12, 2017 to a 12-month enhanced sentence for sexually assaulting a female prisoner who was classified as a “vulnerable victim.” McGaugh, who is an Arkansas resident, pleaded guilty in July 2017 to sexual abuse of a ward. According to the indictment, he engaged in multiple sex acts with the victim while she was under his supervision and on at least one occasion forced the woman to perform a sex act on him. Although McGaugh appealed the “vulnerable victim” assessment, on August 15, 2018 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s sentence enhancement. See: United States v. McGaugh, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22624.
Utah: Two women who were housed at the Duchesne County jail were charged on November 17, 2017 with forcible sexual abuse after they strip-searched a pair of fellow prisoners whom they suspected of stealing commissary sugar packets. Letha Ilene Beston, 21, and Zhondee Spring Nephi, 30, forced the two women into the shower and made them remove their clothes. Because Nephi punched one of the women, she faces an additional charge of assault by a prisoner. Investigators said one of the victims submitted to the search to “avoid a fight.” The other said Beston and Nephi fabricated the stolen sugar story to belittle her and the other prisoner. Both Beston and Nephi were being held at the jail under a contract between the sheriff’s department and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Venezuela: Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, Tarek William Saab, announced on Twitter that 66 men and two women had been killed in a March 28, 2018 fire at a police jail in the town of Valencia in the Carabobo state. Saab promised a “thorough investigation to immediately shed light on the painful events that have put dozens of Venezuelan families in mourning.” A Window to Freedom, a nonprofit group that monitors conditions in Venezuela’s jails and prisons, reported unconfirmed information that indicated the fire had erupted after a riot broke out at the facility. Humberto Prado, director of the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, reported that prior to the fire, in the first two months of 2018, 26 prisoners had died and more than 1,000 were participating in hunger strikes. “The jails in Venezuela are a true hell,” he wrote.
Wisconsin: On February 6, 2018, Dodge County Circuit Judge Brian Pfitzinger ordered prisoner James H. Luke, 29, to serve two additional years in prison for sending a letter to Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney that said, in part, “I am going to personally decapitate you and mail your head in a box to the local news.” The threat, which prosecutors said was made in retaliation for Toney’s prosecution of an unrelated homicide case, also claimed Luke had ties to the terrorist group ISIS, but no legitimate connection was verified. According to Department of Corrections records, Luke, who mailed the letter while housed at the Waupun Correctional Institution, was transferred to another facility after Pfitzinger accepted his no contest plea.