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News in Brief

Alabama: A jail guard in Chilton County, Alabama, was arrested on July 21, 2022, and charged with promoting contraband, the Clanton Advertiser reported. The guard, Tyler Ryan Couch, is accused of organizing an effort to smuggle drugs to detainees. Though jail policy forbids guards from transmitting messages or packages, Couch allegedly coordinated delivery of marijuana, methamphetamine, and prescription medications purchased from individuals outside the facility. Assistant Chief Deputy Shane Mayfield said Couch had no previous law enforcement experience but had recently earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The guard was reportedly one of seven people arrested in the case, and many of the others had criminal histories. No other Sheriff’s Department employee was involved, though Mayfield said other staffers “were angry or felt betrayed” by Couch.

Australia: The Daily Mail reported that Australia’s “king and queen of porn” are a former prison guard and a former prisoner. Isabelle Deltore, 40, quit her job as a prison guard at a maximum-security prison when she was 29, in part because she was tired of being catcalled. She went on to become a porn actress and was named “Miss Nude World” twice. Dale Egan, 31, was incarcerated before getting into the adult film industry, spending more than four years in prison after an arrest in 2015 for home invasion. He considers himself reformed and blamed his criminal history on money woes and exposure to bad influences. The two connected through a producer and bonded over their prison experiences, albeit on different sides of the bars. They began filming adult content for the subscription service OnlyFans. Deltore admits to considering the optics of a former guard and a former prisoner being filmed together but said she decided it didn’t matter. Now the two are among the most viewed performers on the site.

California: A former federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) guard at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles was sentenced for perjury on August 15, 2022, KTLA in Los Angeles reported. The former guard, Abel Concho, 54, pleaded guilty on November 10, 2021, to lying to investigators about sexually abusing a detainee. [See: PLN, Jan. 2022, p.62.] Under terms of his plea deal, he was sentenced to three months in prison followed by three months under house arrest. He was also barred from future law enforcement employment and/or any position requiring use of a firearm.

California: The San Diego Sun, Los Angeles Times, and KTLA in Los Angeles reported that four California prisoners were murdered at three prisons over the course of eight days in late April and early May 2022. Three of the killings took place in prison recreation yards. Camilo Banoslopez, 22, was fatally attacked at California State Prison on May 6, 2022, by four other prisoners identified as Albert Calvillo, 30; Irvin Rodriguez, 36; Osbaldo Velasquez, 38; and Jose Avila, 39. The previous day, on May 5, 2022, Sidney Kang, 31, was allegedly killed at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) by two fellow prisoners, Anthony Ramirez, 40, and Michael Caldera, 35, using homemade weapons recovered at the scene. The day before that, on May 4, 2022, Edgar Delgado, 39, was fatally attacked at Salinas State Prison. The fourth victim, Alfredo Valenzuela, 50, was discovered unresponsive in his cell at KVSP on April 30, 2022. State prison officials announced investigations into all four killings.

Canada: A former guard at a Nova Scotia women’s prison was sentenced to three years in a Canadian federal lockup on August 23, 2022, for sexually assaulting three prisoners in 2018. They were not named in court proceedings against the former guard, Brian Wilson, who plied them with cigarettes and other favors, according to a CBC report. He at first denied the accusations before pleading guilty in April 2022 to three counts each of sexual assault and breach of trust. After release, he’ll be banned from owning firearms for ten years and required to submit DNA and register as a sex offender for life. Within the first five years, he must also pay a $1,200 victim surcharge.

Florida: The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reported that an email from a high-ranking Florida DOC official on August 5, 2022, revealed a new ban on t-shirts with messages expressing support for family visitations with prisoners — especially “My Visits Matter” t-shirts, which are produced and sold by the non-profit Florida Cares. Saying the items pose a “potential threat to security,” Assistant Deputy Secretary of Institutions Hope Gartman said the t-shirts were no longer allowed in DOC facilities. Florida Cares Executive Director Denise Rock said her group made the t-shirts to call attention to a DOC proposal limiting visitation to every other weekend at some prisons. Tracy Zuluaga, executive director for the Post-Conviction & Returning Citizens Alliance, said she visits her boyfriend every weekend at Avon Park Correctional Institution and that DOC “want[s] to cut visits by 50%.” Now, she added, prison officials behind the ban apparently “don’t want the incarcerated population to know.”

Florida: A federal judge in Washington, DC handed a three-year probated sentence to a former Florida DOC guard on August 26, 2022, for his role in the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The Florida Times-Union reported that Jonathan Daniel Carlton, 46, had worked as a guard at Union Correctional Institution. He avoided a three-month prison sentence that Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie Carter was seeking, thanks to the judge’s sympathy for Carlton’s family obligations; the former guard has been working as a handyman to support his children. Judge Thomas F. Hogan also noted that Carlton seemed to have no personal involvement in the day’s violence and appeared remorseful, telling the judge, “I’m just done with politics.” The former guard lost his job after pleading guilty to a parading and picketing misdemeanor in March 2022. Like others convicted in the insurrection, he was ordered to pay $500 toward restitution of damages to the Capitol estimated at $1.7 to $2.5 million.

Georgia: A prison-based drug-smuggling plot netted an additional sentence for a Georgia state prisoner on August 4, 2022. DOJ said that Joseph Collins, 38, who was being held at Augusta State Prison, received 20 additional years plus five years of supervised release. Another prisoner held at Calhoun State Prison, Eric Gilbert, 46, pleaded guilty in April 2022; he was sentenced to an additional 19 years plus five years of supervised release on September 22, 2022. An un-incarcerated co-defendant, Christopher Ogle, 38, received an 11-year prison term and five years of supervised release on the same day that Collins was sentenced. Each pleaded guilty to supplying state prisoners with drugs. A fourth accused co-conspirator, Natalie Espinoza, 27, is also un-incarcerated and still at large. The group was busted by an unnamed informant, who tipped off prison officials to Gilbert’s affiliation with the Ghostface Gangsters street gang and, through it, a Mexican drug-trafficking cartel. In June 2020, the informant contacted Collins, who directed him to Gilbert, who was then recorded boasting he’d been dealing drugs in state prisons for a decade. In subsequent transactions he arranged, the informant was delivered drugs by Espinoza in June 2020 and more in January 2021 by Ogle, who was arrested in the process.

Georgia: On August 17, 2022, WGAU in Athens and WDUN in Gainesville reported that two Georgia jail guards were arrested for violent off-duty incidents. Former Habersham County Deputy Sheriff Ryan Kelley was fired after an investigation into allegations of domestic assault against him. He faces battery charges from that incident. Elbert County jail guard Willgwenda McIntosh, 29, also faces a charge of aggravated assault for allegedly firing her pistol in the parking lot of her apartment complex. No injuries were reported in that incident.

Hawaii: On July 8, 2022, a federal jury convicted three former guards at Hawaii Community Correctional Center for a vicious assault on a prisoner. KHON in Honolulu reported that Jason Tagaloa, 31, Craig Pinkney, 38, and Jonathan Taum, 50, were also convicted of submitting a false report to the state Department of Public Safety in an attempt to cover up their June 2015 attack on the prisoner, Chawn Kaili, who suffered a broken nose, jaw, and eye socket. A fourth guard, Jordan DeMattos, also participated in the assault and cover-up, but he pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution. All four guards were fired after surveillance video in the jail recreation yard captured their two-minute beat-down, when they punched and kicked the prisoner 45 times. When sentenced, the guards face maximum penalties of ten years for deprivation of rights, 20 years for filing a false report, and five years for conspiracy.

Louisiana: A BOP prisoner was murdered in July 2022 at the high-security U.S. Penitentiary (USP) near Pollock, Louisiana, just over a month after another prisoner at the lockup was sentenced for killing his cellmate there the year before. KLAX in Alexandria reported that the most recent prisoner to die, Lionel Stoddard, 39, succumbed to injuries sustained in a fight at the prison on July 30, 2022. He was serving a 61-year sentence handed down in February 2021 for crimes including racketeering and conspiracy against the U.S. Earlier, on June 29, 2022, DOJ announced that prisoner Jose G. Mercado-Gonzalez, 27, was sentenced to an additional 135 months plus three years of supervised release for killing his cellmate during a fight on October 16, 2021. Mercado-Gonzales, who was serving time for “re-entry of a removed alien,” pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on March 17, 2022. His victim was not named.

Maine: The Courier-Gazette reported that a Maine State Prison guard appeared in court on August 8, 2022, on charges he sexually assaulted a fellow employee. Bo Radic, 31, allegedly spent time with the coworker before assaulting her at work on June 22, 2022. The victim admitted the couple began to have consensual sex, but she decided not to continue and told Radic to stop. He refused, she said, and forced himself on her. Radic admitted to having a relationship with the victim but denied the assault. The presiding judge put Radic on a $1,000 bond, took his passport, and ordered him to stay away from the alleged victim.

Mississippi: Magnolia State Live reported that four detainees at the Alcorn County Jail escaped late on August 4, 2022, by cutting a hole in the roof. County schools kept students inside during recess the next day. By the end of that night, three of them — Samuel Sims, Hunter Wigington, and Antonio Reyes — had been caught in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But police didn’t find the fourth man, Landon Braudway, until receiving a tip a day later. He was then located at a residence in the county. After leading police on a chase and fighting with them, he was taken back into custody on August 6, 2022.

Missouri: On August 3, 2022, a jail guard and his wife in Jefferson City, Missouri, were charged with 12 counts of child sexual assault and child pornography. DOJ reported that Jefferson City Correctional Center guard Paul Emerson Schofield, 33, and Sara Ellen Schofield, 29, were arrested on July 13, 2022. They were held without bond on two criminal complaints superseded by the federal indictment. The two allegedly made kiddie porn over a nearly three-year period between July 29, 2019, and June 7, 2022. Sara Schofield was charged with two counts of producing child pornography and another count of transferring it to a minor, while Paul Schofield received four counts of producing child pornography and one count each of advertising, receiving, distributing, and transporting it. An investigation launched from an online tip on April 25, 2022, found sexually explicit videos involving infants on Paul Schofield’s phone and a video of the couple assaulting an unconscious 4-year-old victim on his wife’s phone.

Missouri: A detainee at the Jackson County Detention Center in Kansas City was sentenced to 12 years in prison on August 26, 2022, for smuggling drugs into the lockup. The Lee’s Summit Tribune reported the detainee, Christopher Harris, 39, pleaded guilty to second-degree drug trafficking after he was implicated by investigators looking into a September 2021 prisoner overdose. A body scan then turned up powdered fentanyl and heroin on him.

New York: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that a former BOP guard was charged on August 2, 2022, with smuggling drugs into Sunset Park Metropolitan Detention Center. The former guard, Jeremy Monk, was arrested the same day. He worked for BOP from May 2020 until his resignation on April 18, 2022, three days after he was accused of scheming to smuggle tobacco, alcohol, and drugs into the facility, allegedly in exchange for a $10,000 bribe from prisoners. He left the items in the staff bathroom to be picked up, but other staff found the contraband first. He had also allegedly smuggled contraband into the prison before, including at least one cellphone. When asked by a BOP Human Resources officer why he was quitting, Monk reportedly said it was because of “some stupid investigation.”

New Jersey: On August 5, 2022, a BOP guard at Mid-State Correctional Facility pleaded guilty to aggravated assault of a prisoner, New Jersey Advance Media reported. The guard, Jovanny Galindo, 33, evaded prison time after admitting that he used pepper spray on a prisoner without justification and then lied about it in a false report, for which he accepted charges of aggravated assault, falsifying or tampering with records, tampering with public records, and official misconduct. The charges stem from an incident on June 16, 2020, during which Galindo, without justification, pepper sprayed a seated prisoner. In his subsequent report, the guard claimed the prisoner was “argumentative,” uncooperative, and “verbally threatened” him. Galindo’s original plea deal required him to resign and serve a prison term one day shy of a year, but his attorney negotiated that down to two years of probation instead.

North Carolina: A guard at the Mecklenburg County Jail was fired and arrested on August 9, 2022, on charges he smuggled contraband to a detainee, the Charlotte Observer reported. Sheriff’s Department investigators acting on a tip discovered that the guard, Goodwin Stuppard, had supplied tobacco to a detainee and charged a cellphone for him. Stuppard admitted to both crimes. He had been employed at the jail almost seven years. Another jail worker, Samara Black, 26, was fired and arrested the day before on similar charges after an investigation that was also begun on a tip. She had worked for the jail’s privately contracted health care provider, Wellpath, since June 2020.

Oklahoma: On August 5, 2022, a former detainee sued the Oklahoma County Jail alleging a guard assaulted her while she was naked. The Oklahoman reported that the victim, Jazmine Monay Miller, 27, claimed when she was in a shower area at the jail on August 6, 2020, guard Steven Blake Brewer, 32, pepper sprayed her, punched, and kneed her, all while she was naked and defenseless. Miller, who was convicted of the charges on which she was being held and is now out on probation, claims the most provocation she might have given was “passive resistance” to a directive from a female guard to return to her cell. In addition to violations of her civil rights, Miller said she sustained physical, mental, and emotional injuries from the incident. See: Miller v. Okla. Cty. Crim. Justice Auth., USDC (W.D. Okla.), Case No. 5:22-cv-00665.Brewer resigned afterward and was charged with assault and battery. His trial was set for October 10, 2022. Another civil rights suit accusing him of excessive force was filed by a second former detainee, Dakota Simko-Horvath, who said the guard used a pair of handcuffs “like brass knuckles” to knock him off a cell toilet in the middle of a bowel movement on May 23, 2019. That suit has been stayed pending the outcome of Brewer’s criminal case. See: Simco-Horvath v. Brewer, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59022 (W.D. Okla.).

Oklahoma: Public Radio Tulsa reported that a guard was charged on August 15, 2022, with assaulting a shackled prisoner at the Oklahoma State Prison. The guard, William Graham, 35, denied hitting Kentrell Campbell while the prisoner was restrained until shown surveillance video in which he seemed to be striking someone out of camera range. At that point he admitted it “looked like” he was hitting Campbell, but he said he didn’t recall whether he actually did. For that Graham faces counts of obstruction of justice and providing false evidence in addition to one for aggravated assault and battery. Four other guards were also charged with falsifying reports to conceal the attack: Michael Boswell, 27, Dylan Aragon, 28, Richard Holloway, 37, and Stanley Rogers, 59. They surrendered and were freed on $10,000 bond. The four, like Graham, had been suspended. Unlike them, Graham did not immediately surrender. A warrant for his arrest on a $20,000 bond was still active on August 17, 2022, the McAlester News-Capital reported.

Oklahoma: A private prisoner transport guard from Claremore, Oklahoma, appeared in federal court there on August 3, 2022, to face charges he sexually assaulted a detainee. The guard, Dewayne Lewis Dudley, 55, was charged with one count of obstruction and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. DOJ said that Dudley, an employee of Georgia-based private prisoner transport company Blue Raven Services, allegedly sexually assaulted a male pretrial detainee he was transporting from Indiana to New Mexico on August 27, 2021. He is accused of taking the detainee to his personal residence as well as a hotel during the transport and touching the detainee’s genitals without consent. DOJ also alleged that Dudley lied about the incident to FBI investigators on December 16, 2021.

Oregon: One Oregon DOC official was fired and another resigned following investigations into misconduct allegations, the Salem Reporter, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and Statesman Journal reported. On July 29, 2022, then-DOC Director Colette Peters fired Assistant Director Nathaline Frener, 52, saying she was taking leadership “in a new direction.” Frener, however, claimed she was targeted in retaliation for complaining that another DOC official, Heidi Steward, was prolonging the layoff of a whistleblower employee, Gina Raney-Eatherly, who had accused DOC of inflating the number of prisoners in need of substance abuse treatment. Peters then accused Frener, the only openly LGBT member of DOC senior management, of “harassment” and placed her on leave, where she remained another eight months until she was fired on Peters’ last day before becoming BOP Director. The other departing DOC official was Oregon State Penitentiary Superintendent Brandon Kelly, 49, who resigned in January 2022, five months after he was put on leave during an investigation into allegations he showed favoritism to a female subordinate he was having a romantic relationship with and retaliated against staff who talked or knew about it. That investigation, completed in December 2021, found Kelly upended the “chain of command” and “undermined” employees who reported on him.

Pennsylvania: The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that a former Pennsylvania prison guard trainee at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Camp Hill was accused of dealing drugs to a prisoner. Natalie T. Greene, 24, was charged with a misdemeanor and three felonies for allegedly smuggling buprenorphine and synthetic cannabinoids into the lockup. Investigators caught her by posing as drug suppliers, giving her fake substances and $1,000 reportedly found on her at her arrest. Greene, originally hired on February 7, 2022, later admitted guilt during an interview.

Pennsylvania: On August 6, 2022, a former guard at a Pennsylvania women’s prison was charged with “institutional sexual assault” of a prisoner. The Meadville Tribune reported the guard, Alexius D. Castro, 23, was accused of assaulting the victim at SCI Cambridge Springs around 10:00 p.m. on January 28, 2022. State Police said that night Castro touched the victim in a sexual way and kissed her. She had worked for the state DOC 18 months before she was fired on April 11, 2022. If convicted on the charge, she faces up to seven years in prison.

Pennsylvania: WTXF in Philadelphia reported that a state prison guard was taken into custody on suspicion of sexual assault on August 15, 2022. The guard, Alyssa Nicole Pierce, 32, was charged with having sexual contact with a 27-year-old prisoner at SCI Chester and illegally communicating with him by phone over a three-month period. After her five-count arrest warrant was issued, she surrendered to authorities and was placed in the Delaware County Prison.

Vietnam: A Vietnamese prison warden is accused of playing Robin Hood with an AK-47 on July 31, 2022. VN Express International reported that the warden, Ngo Van Quoc, 38, was armed with the high-powered rifle when he arrived at the Dong Ba Market in the Province of Thua Thien-Hue. Entering two gold shops, he threatened employees and then shot at glass shelves, tossing the gold that fell from them into the street as he shouted, “Gold for the poor!” Numerous bystanders took the opportunity to claim some of the gold. Ngo was walking away with his weapon when police caught up with him. He surrendered the gun and himself after a 15-minute conversation. He was charged with “use of military weapons” and “robbery.” Officials said his motive had not been determined and requested all stolen gold be returned.

Virginia: Over 200 of the 1,468 prisoners at Virginia’s only privately run state prison were transferred out on September 7, 2022, as renovations got underway at the GEO Group’s Lawrenceville Correctional Center, WRIC in Richmond reported. Meanwhile an investigation was announced on August 10, 2022, into a string of prisoner overdoses, one of which left a prisoner dead on August 6, 2022. In a letter to state DOC Director Harold Clarke on August 23, 2022, GEO Group Senior V.P. James H. Black “acknowledge[d] that recent drug overdoses at the Lawrenceville prison have raised appropriate concerns about the safety and security of those who are held there.” In response, Black said, the prison was restricting prisoner movement unless “medically necessary,” as well as conducting searches and “mass urine analysis testing.” The Florida-based firm has run the prison since 2003. Its next contract renewal arrives in 2023.

Virginia: On August 5, 2022, DOJ announced that a federal prisoner was sentenced to an additional 151 months for distributing drugs while incarcerated at USP-Lee near Petersburg and then assaulting a guard at Western Virginia Regional Jail (WVRJ) while detained there to await trial. Michael Selvidge, 38, later pleaded guilty to receiving 48 strips of Suboxone from a visitor to USP-Lee and planning to distribute them there. [See: PLN, Feb. 2022, p.62.] But not before he became enraged with a guard who told him to return to his cell during security rounds at WVRJ, beating the guard and dousing him with his own pepper spray before throwing the empty canister at him. For the drug offense Selvidge received 110 months in prison and 41 months for the assault.

Virginia: A former guard at New River Valley Regional Jail was convicted of attempted drug smuggling on August 15, 2022, the Roanoke Times reported. Lilly Ann Caudill, 25, pleaded no contest to charges she attempted to smuggle marijuana, naloxone, buprenorphine, and methamphetamine, which was found during a search of her car in June 2021, after which she was fired. The drugs were bound for detainee Joseph Marcus Belton, 23, with whom Caudill had a relationship her attorney called “friendly” but insisted was not sexual. Belton was found guilty of drug charges and bribery and sentenced to an extra 15 months. Caudill, who began working for the state DOC in early 2020, received three concurrent ten-year sentences that will be suspended if she doesn’t break the law again.

West Virginia: On August 19, 2022, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported that just 93 National Guard troops had been deployed to cover some 1,000 empty positions in the state DOC, since an executive order issued by Gov. Jim Justice (R). Justice said the state should reconsider prison staff pay, especially given that surrounding states pay more. But he also clarified that a targeted approach is a possibility, raising pay only in areas with the most vacancies, though that might cause conflict over pay differences between regions. The eastern panhandle area, he noted, had a staff vacancy rate of 60%. A high-ranking state official indicated there were some in the National Guard who did not consider prison work part of their mandate. He also said the Guard would fill the role only for a calendar year, as it did in 2018, citing financial concerns around extending the mission beyond that.

Wisconsin: WDJT in Milwaukie reported that a former unit supervisor at Racine Correctional Institute was fired and arrested on August 25, 2022, and accused of having a months-long sexual relationship with a state prisoner. The former guard, Jacqueline M. Heidt, 36, an 11-year veteran of the state DOC, had worked at the prison since 2017. Investigators claim she had two offices at the facility, using both for the liaisons three or four times a week since April 2022. That number reportedly came from the prisoner himself during an interview with authorities. He also claimed that the interactions were sexual, sometimes involving full intercourse, on a total of 20 to 40 occasions during that period. The couple were allegedly found out when the prisoner was injured and found with a cellphone, which contained evidence of the relationship including explicit messages with Heidt. She was handed 41 counts, including 20 of sexual assault in the second degree. If convicted, she faces a potential life sentence. 

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