With “Fox in Charge of the Henhouse,” Almost All Misconduct Accusations Against BOP Staff Result in No Discipline
by Benjamin Tschirhart
In just over three years ending August 2022, at least 49 employees of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) were convicted of crimes, ranging from pilfering government property to sexually abusing prisoners. That total – an average of 16 guilty verdicts every year – represents an admittedly tiny fraction of BOP’s 37,000 employees. But that’s not the whole story.
According to the agency’s annual Office of Internal Affairs Report, investigators opened 14,361 cases in the most recent three-year period, involving alleged misconduct by 17,907 employees. At that rate, even for an agency that employs some 37,000 people, it will take less than seven years to collect a misconduct allegation for every one of them.
Moreover, the number of allegations that results in a criminal conviction is miniscule: About three-tenths of one percent. Even when a BOP employee is officially accused of wrongdoing, the chances he or she will be criminally convicted are so low that the odds of having a parent in prison are seven times greater.
The federal Department of Justice (DOJ), BOP’s parent agency, said it does not “tolerate staff misconduct, particularly criminal misconduct.” That may be true for the agency’s 78,000 staffers who don’t not work for the federal prison system; their arrest rate is dramatically lower than the rate in BOP. There the question remains: Do staff misconduct allegations really turn out to be unfounded 99.7% of the time?
Or has BOP just gotten good at ignoring employee misconduct?
In the most recent fiscal year, when misconduct allegations were lodged against 6,593 BOP employees – almost one of every five – the charge was deemed “sustained” 28.7% of the time. That’s about 1,892 errant staffers in just one year. What happened to them?
BOP said that 19.3% resigned or retired. Another 9% were demoted or fired. The lion’s share – almost 65% – received nothing more than a written reprimand or suspension. And in about one of every 25 cases, no action was taken at all.
As Washington, DC prisoner rights attorney Deborah Golden told the Washington Post, “Staff throughout the Bureau know that they can abuse men and women in federal custody with impunity, as long as they don’t admit it or do it on camera.”
Failing to Follow the Truth
When determining what to do in these situations, BOP officials must consider mitigations known as Douglas factors, named for a 1981 decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board that laid them out. See: Douglas v. VA, 5 M.S.P.R. 280 (M.S.P.B. 1981).
These include the nature and seriousness of the offense; the employee’s job level and type of employment; the employee’s work record and discipline record; the notoriety of the offense or its impact on BOP’s reputation; along with any other mitigating circumstances. Internal policy states that BOP’s “CEO is required to consider only relevant Douglas factors and need not consider all the Douglas factors in every case.”
But there is also one big thing that won’t get considered: Prisoner testimony.
In an October 2022 Management Advisory Memorandum, DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported that “in cases that have not been accepted for criminal prosecution, the BOP will not rely on inmate testimony to make administrative misconduct findings and take disciplinary action against BOP employees, unless there is evidence aside from inmate testimony that independently establishes the misconduct, such as a video capturing the act of misconduct, conclusive forensic evidence, or an admission from the subject.”
That, Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded, gives rise to “serious concerns.”
It also prompted Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) to sponsor legislation ordering BOP to beef up its security camera coverage, in order to provide the corroboration that the agency demands before giving credence to testimony by prisoners against staff. That law, the Prison Camera Reform Act, was passed and signed by Pres. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D) on December 27, 2022.
New BOP Director Colette Peters also acknowledged to Ossoff and his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 29, 2022, that the agency is under the gun to clear its backlog of open staff misconduct cases. She promised that new organizational changes would help speed the process. At a follow-up hearing before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on December 13, 2022, Peters outlined “concrete steps” that BOP had taken “to address these unacceptable incidents” of staff-on-prisoner abuse – especially sexual abuse.
“Employee misconduct is always unacceptable and must never be tolerated,” Peters said, adding that “[s]topping sexual misconduct at Bureau facilities is an issue of critical importance.”
So what are these “concrete steps”?
“Enhance prevention of sexual misconduct,” Peters began, starting with a change in “the culture and environment in Bureau facilities.” That culture, the new director also vowed, will be one “where all stakeholders feel empowered” in order to “[e]nhance reporting of sexual misconduct.” On top of that, adding more than 40 new employees in the Office of Internal Affairs will “[e]nhance accountability for sexual misconduct,” she continued. So will addressing “[d]elays in processing discipline,” which “can have a detrimental impact on the secure running of institutions and on employee morale.”
Left off that list was Horowitz’s number one challenge: That the “credibility of each witness should be assessed individually.”
While Peters allowed that “inmate statements are used for investigative leads,” she pushed back against the suggestion to develop a policy for handling prisoner statements in staff misconduct investigations, arguing that doing so would make the process more litigious and hamstring BOP attorneys. Horowitz called those concerns neither “relevant or compelling.”
“The BOP’s failure allows the statements of incarcerated people with assault and rape allegations to carry less weight than [they] would in other contexts,” said Tammie Gregg, who is deputy director of the National Prison Project for the American Civil Liberties Union. She called the agency’s ban on prisoner statements in employee misconduct investigations “dangerous, disappointing and outrageous — especially given the numerous sexual abuse allegations at BOP facilities involving BOP staff.”
Guard Shortage and ‘Augmentation’ Blamed
Responding to Peters’ Senate testimony, the president of the union representing many BOP guards was quick to blame chronic short-staffing.
“It is no secret that the Bureau of Prisons is in the midst of a staffing crisis of epic proportions,” said Shane Fausey, who serves as national president of the Council of Prison Locals of the union representing guards, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Pointing to “an unprecedented exodus” of staff, especially guards, he said that what remains is “ an environment that is not safe for our employees. And it’s not safe for the people that we’re entrusted to protect.”
Taking advantage of a process called ‘augmentation,’ BOP has assigned guards to work mandatory overtime. Other employees like cooks and nurses are assigned to fill in as guards. Fausey traced the roots of the ‘augmentation’ back to 2008, when guards away for training needed their shifts covered. Peters acknowledged the policy is not a permanent solution, also allowing that the agency has been using it too long.
“Augmentation is only a good idea when used in the short term,” she said. “The fact that it’s been used for years now to manage through the pandemic, and manage through the staffing crisis really has to put wear and tear on the whole system.”
“Where it mutated,” Fausey explained, “was [BOP] continued to cut staffing positions, specifically correctional officers, and those deficiencies have created this dependency on augmentation just to function.”
He added: “I think it’s disturbing when you see a nurse or a secretary manning a housing unit by themselves.”
Fausey also blamed ‘augmentation’ for the ‘exodus’ he bemoaned, with 3,000 BOP employees retiring in 2021 and another 3,000 in 2022 – dwarfing the number of new hires. Peters blamed the decision by past administrations to locate prisons in rural areas, where “we’re not competing with anyone,” she said. “We’re just having a tough time finding people in the community to even apply.”
And in areas where there is a competitive labor market, BOP is being outbid for workers by “the fast-food industry and other individuals,” Peters added, “organizations that are giving $5,000 signing bonuses.”
Then there is the problem of training, which for guards, Peters admitted, is less than the 21 weeks the average U.S. law enforcement officer gets, according to federal Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2011.
“If we are going to expect our corrections professionals to perform at a higher level, we must equip them with the appropriate training to meet those expectations,” she said.
There also needs to be accountability all the way up the chain of command at BOP, added Susan Canales, who serves as vice-president of AFGE at FCI-Dublin. “The main concern with the Bureau of Prisons is that wardens at each institution, they decide if there’s going to be any disciplinary investigation or not,” she said.
“Basically, you’re putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.”
The following are the 49 BOP staffers and contractors criminally convicted from July 2019 through August 2022, according to PLN’s research. The list was drawn from news reports and BOP press releases and is not necessarily complete. It also does not include dozens of other employees criminally charged, arrested or indicted, but not yet convicted.
July 31, 2019 – Lt. Eugenio Perez, a former guard at Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, was sentenced to a 25-year prison term for forcing four prisoners to fellate his penis, which he affectionately nicknamed “horse.” [See: PLN, June 2020, p.53.] One victim said it had “a really strong smell” that sickened her. Perez was also fined $20,000 and given a $2,150 assessment. See: USA v. Perez, USDC (E.D.N.Y.), Case No. 1:17-cr-00280. Perez appealed his sentence to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which upheld all but the fine on May 5, 2022, remanding the case to the district court for an ability-to-pay determination. See: United States v. Perez, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 12158 (2d Cir.). He is currently held at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Fort Worth, with release scheduled in October 2038.
February 21, 2020 – Carlos Richard Martinez, another former guard at MDC-Brooklyn, was convicted of repeatedly raping a prisoner in 2015 and 2016. He was sentenced in April 2022 and is currently held at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Englewood, Colorado, with a scheduled release in December 2025. [See: PLN, Mar. 2023, p.40.]
June 19, 2020 – Ronnie Landis, a former automotive foreman at FCI-Big Spring in Texas, was convicted of stealing six all-terrain tires and a utility vehicle. See: Abilene Div. United States v. Landis, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107661 (N.D. Tex.). On October 15, 2020, he was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $11,182.84 in restitution, fines, court costs and assessments. See: USA v. Landis, USDC (N.D. Tex.), Case No. 1:20-cr-00042.
July 15, 2020 – Chikosi Legins, 41, a former guard at FCI-Petersburg in Virginia, was convicted of lying to investigators looking into a prisoner’s claim that he was forced to have sex with the guard in a prison office. A jury acquitted Legins of sexual abuse charges. But the federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia imposed a 54-month prison sentence much like the one he would have received if not partially acquitted. Legins appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which found any error was harmless and upheld the sentence on May 11, 2022. See: United States v. Legins, 34 F.4th 304 (4th Cir. 2022). The U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a writ of certiorari to hear the case on October 3, 2022. See: Legins v. United States, 143 S. Ct. 266 (2022). BOP said Legins was released in January 2023.
July 30, 2020 – Josue Duane Garza, 42, a former guard at FCI-Forrest City in Arkansas, was convicted and sentenced to a year and a day in prison for taking over $40,000 in bribes to smuggle contraband into the lockup. BOP said he was released in July 2022. See: USA v. Garza, USDC (E.D. Ark.), Case No. 4:19-cr-00433.
August 3, 2020 – Leonard Carlucci, a former guard at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in San Diego was convicted and sentenced to three years of probation for fabricating a threat that a prisoner never made in order to justify dousing the compliant man with pepper spray. See: USA v. Carlucci, USDC (S.D. Cal.), Case No. 3:19-cr-04939.
August 11, 2020 – Roger Harris, a former guard who was also President of AFGE Local 3048 at the Federal Correctional Center (FCC) in Lompoc, California, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, after skimming $36,150.78 in union funds. His sentencing is still pending. See: USA v. Harris, USDC (C.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:18-cr-00306.
August 13, 2020 – Michael Eaddy, 25, a former guard at D. Ray James Correctional Facility in Folkston, Georgia, was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of supervised release for taking a $246.25 bribe to smuggle contraband cigarettes to prisoners. For his role in the scheme, prisoner Jean Civil, 25, had a month added to his 78-month term for cocaine distribution. The prison, privately operated by the Florida-based GEO Group, lost its contract with BOP in 2020. [See: PLN, Oct. 2020, p.62.] But it quickly filled the empty beds with detainees for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
August 19, 2020 – Adrian Stargell, 39, a former guard who worked as an Education Specialist at FCI-Aliceville in Alabama, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two prisoners in 2017 and 2018 and then lying about it to investigators. He was sentenced to 42 months in prison and three years of supervised release. See: USA v. Stargell, USDC (N.D. Ala.), Case No. 7:20-cr-00056. BOP said he was released in January 2023.
September 20, 2020 – Michael Kerr, 31, a former guard at McRae Correctional Facility in Telfair, Georgia, pleaded guilty to charges he took $640 in bribes to smuggle contraband into the lockup. [See: PLN, Apr. 2020, p.62.] He was sentenced to three years of probation and fined $2,500. See: USA v. Kerr, USDC (S.D. Ga.), Case No. 3:19-cr-00010.The prison was privately operated for BOP by CoreCivic, a GEO Group competitor, under a contract that expired November 30, 2022; the firm announced layoffs for more than 250 employees as well as plans to sell the facility to the state Department of Corrections for $130 million.
October 16, 2020 – Phillip Golightly, 38, a former guard at FCI-Tallahassee in Florida, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a prisoner while on temporary assignment at nearby FCI-Mariana in November 2019. [See: PLN, Aug. 2020, p.62.]Golightly, a kitchen supervisor, took the prisoner to a storage room on the pretext of retrieving cups. There he performed oral sex on her and forced her to reciprocate until he ejaculated in her mouth. His DNA evidence was then used to convict him. He was sentenced on September 3, 2021, to a two-year prison term and five years of supervised release. See: USA v. Golightly, USDC (N.D. Fla.), Case No. 4:20-cr-00032. He is held at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Houston with release scheduled in August 2023.
November 19, 2020 – Victor Manuel DeJesus, Jr., 47, a former guard at FCI-Miami, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to smuggle contraband to prisoners in 2019, including SIM cards and other cellphone accessories, as well as cigarettes. [See: PLN, July 2022, p.54.] He was sentenced to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release, plus he must pay an $875 assessment. Earlier, for their roles in the scheme, prisoner Gregory Bart Nation got a year and a day added to his sentence, and fellow prisoner Enrique Mejias got an extra 10 months. See: USA v. DeJesus, USDC (S.D. Fla.), Case No. 1:19-cr-20660. DeJesus is currently held at USP-Lee in Virginia with a release date scheduled for December 2037.
December 18, 2020 – Carlos Mora de Santiago, a former guard at FCI-Terminal Island in California, was convicted in Los Angeles County Superior Court of taking part in a scheme to fraudulently claim Veterans Administration education benefits for courses at a truck-driving school that were never given. He was sentenced to 60 months of probation and ordered to perform 168 hours of community service plus pay $16,791 in restitution. On August 2, 2021, Fernando Velasco, a second former BOP guard caught in the scheme, was sentenced to 36 months of probation and ordered to serve 290 hours of community service and pay $28,975 in restitution. See: People v. Marshall, Cal. Super. (Cty. of Los Angeles), Case No. BA464429.
January 11, 2021 – Outhonthip Jenks, 46, a former guard at FDC-Honolulu, pleaded guilty to taking a $3,500 bribe to smuggle contraband – including a cellphone and pain pills – to a prisoner. She was sentenced to six months in prison and two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $7,000 fine. See: USA v. Jenks, USDC (D. Haw.), Case No. 1:20-cr-00070.
January 12, 2021 - Francisco “Adrian” Koch, a former teacher at FCC-Tucson in Arizona, pleaded guilty to falsifying a prisoner’s GED requirements in 2019. He was sentenced to three months of probation. See: USA v. Koch, USDC, (D. Ariz.), Case No. 4:19-cr-02033.
January 26, 2021 – Donavan Anglin, a former guard at FCI-Phoenix, pleaded guilty to having sex with a prisoner repeatedly over an 11-month period in 2019. He was sentenced to eight months in prison on April 15, 2021, followed by 10 years of supervised release. See: USA v. Anglin, USDC (D. Ariz.), Case No. 2:20-cr-00625. Anglin sued pro se to set aside or correct the sentence in January 2022. A magistrate judge recommended denial of that request on October 19, 2022; the case remains pending. See: Anglin v. USA, USDC (D. Ariz.), Case No. 2:22-cv-00110.
February 18, 2021 – Lonnie Faircloth and Eric Stephenson, former guards at FCI-Butner in North Carolina, pleaded guilty to a pair of lies; Stephenson, 38, admitted falsely reporting he had completed his rounds when a prisoner died in July 2019, while Faircloth, 55, lied about it to investigators in an attempt at a cover-up. Each was sentenced to six months of probation with a $1,000 fine. See: USA v. Faircloth, USDC (E.D.N.C.), Case No. 5:20-cr-00114.
March 17, 2021 – Paul Hayes, 52, a former guard at FCC-Victorville in California, was convicted of taking $15,000 in bribes to smuggle contraband to prisoners in 2018, including cellphones, methamphetamine and suboxone. [See: PLN, Nov. 2019, p.63.] He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. See: USA v. Hayes, USDC (C.D. Cal.), Case No. 5:19-cr-00074. BOP said he was released in March 2022.
April 19, 2021 – Wesley Hughes, a former guard at FCC-Yazoo City in Mississippi, pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for smuggling contraband to prisoners. He is still awaiting sentencing in federal court for the Southern District of Mississippi. See: USA v. Hughes, USDC (S.D. Miss.), Case No. 3:20-00087.
May 5, 2021 – Nicholas Beshears, a former contract guard at Great Plains Correctional Facility in Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to smuggling workout supplements to prisoners in 2019. He was sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service. See: USA v. Beshears, USDC (W.D. Okla.), Case No. 5:21-mj-00232. The prison, which is privately operated by the GEO Group, closed in 2021, after DOJ – and BOP, by extension – began winding down use of private prisons under an executive order issued by Pres. Biden. [See: PLN, Mar. 2021, p.16.]
May 10, 2021 – Eduardo Garcia and Armando Valdivia, former contract guards at Reeves County Detention Center in Texas, were sentenced after pleading guilty to smuggling a cellphone to a prisoner in 2020. [See: PLN, June 2021, p.62.] The lockup, operated by GEO Group, partially closed in 2021 after BOP pulled out. Garcia, 19, and Valdivia, 22, are on two years of supervised probation. See: USA v. Garcia, USDC (W.D. Tex.), Case No. 4:21-cr-00273.
May 13, 2021 – Paul Taylor, 53, a former guard at FCI-Schuylkill in Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to taking over $89,700 in bribes to smuggle contraband, including tobacco, to prisoners. He was sentenced to two years in prison and a year of supervised release, plus he must forfeit the $89,700. See: USA v. Taylor, USDC (M.D. Pa.), Case No. 3:20-cr-00111.
June 29, 2021 – Ashley Lovett, 28, another former guard at FCC-Yazoo City in Mississippi, pleaded guilty to taking $7,000 in bribes to smuggle contraband. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison, two years of supervised release and fined $1,500. See: USA v. Lovett, USDC (S.D. Miss.), Case No. 3:20-cr-00016. BOP said she was released in November 2022.
September 3, 2021 – Scott Douglas Born, 33, a former guard at FCI-Hazelton in West Virginia, was sentenced to three months in prison for accepting oral sex from a prisoner once, though prosecutors had evidence it happened multiple times between September 2018 and January 2019 at the lockup known as “Misery Mountain.” [See: PLN, May 2021, p.62.] He previously pleaded guilty in February 2021. He was also ordered to spend the first two months of a three-year supervised release on home confinement with electronic monitoring. See: USA v. Born, USDC (N.D.W.V.), Case No. 1:20-cr-00099.
September 1, 2021 – Adam Cockerham, 32, a former guard at FCI-Butner in North Carolina was sentenced to a year of probation for falsely reporting he completed rounds when a prisoner died in May 2019. See: USA V. Cockerham, USDC (E.D.N.C.), Case No. 5:20-cr-00116.
September 16, 2021 - Stephen Taylor and Shanice Bullock, former guards at FCI-Petersburg in Virginia, were sentenced for taking at least $46,841 in bribes to smuggle contraband to a prisoner, including cellphones, cigarettes, marijuana, heroin and Suboxone. Taylor, 49, was sentenced to four years in prison. Bullock, 28, was given a 10-month prison term. Co-conspirator Dontay Cox, 38, a prisoner at the lockup, also pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme, which included running an illegal gambling operation in the prison. He was sentenced to an extra 87 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. See: USA v. Taylor, USDC (E.D. Va.), Case No. 3:20-cr-00125.Cox’s mother, Kim Williams, 57, was sentenced to a 45-month prison term in November 2021 for laundering almost $138,000 used to finance the operation and pay off the crooked guards. [See: PLN, Jan. 2022, p.62.]
September 7, 2021 – Wayne Grant, Jr., 28, a former guard at FCC-Coleman in Florida, pleaded guilty to accepting $2,000 in bribes to smuggle 70 grams of methamphetamine into the prison for someone who turned out to be an undercover agent. The meth turned out to be fake, too. Grant was sentenced in December 2021 to 20 months in prison and two years of supervised release. [See: PLN, Feb. 2022, p.62.] After handing down the sentence, the federal court for the Middle District of Florida recommended that BOP hold Grant somewhere besides FCC-Coleman. See: USA v. Grant, USDC (M.D. Fla.), Case No. 5:21-cr-00026. BOP said he was released from FCI-Williamsburg in South Carolina in February 2023.
October 26, 2021 – Eric Todd Ellis, 32, a former guard at FCI-Aliceville in Alabama, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to having sex with a prisoner in the lockup laundry room in 2020. He also admitted telling a fellow employee about the incident and then asking him to lie to investigators that “nothing happened.” [See: PLN, Dec. 2021, p.62.] Ellis is currently assigned to BOP’s Residential Re-entry Management office in Montgomery, with a scheduled release in April 2023. After that, he must complete five years of supervised release and register as a sex offender. See: USA v. Ellis, USDC (N.D. Ala.), Case No. 7:21-cr-00167.
February 10, 2022 – Ross Klinger, 37, a former technician at FCI-Dublin in California, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing prisoners at the lockup, where so many staffers have been indicted for the crime – including the former warden – that it’s known as the “rape club.” [See: PLN, Nov. 2022, p.54.] Klinger, who has been on home confinement since July 2021, is awaiting sentencing. See: USA v. Klinger, USDC (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 4:22-cr-00031.
February 17, 2022 – Ayona McGillberry Thomas, 26, a former guard at FCI-Yazoo City in Mississippi, pleaded guilty to smuggling marijuana to a prisoner. Sentencing is currently set for late March 2023. See: USA v. McGillberry, USDC (S.D. Miss.), Case No. 3:20-cr-00102.
February 17, 2022 – Paul Anton Wright, 36, a former guard at FCI-Fort Dix in New Jersey, was sentenced to 26 months in prison after pleading guilty and agreeing to forfeit $50,000 in bribes he took to smuggle contraband to prisoners, including tobacco, K-2, and Suboxone. [See: PLN, Apr. 2022, p.62.] Wright was also hit with gambling restrictions and ordered to register on exclusion lists and undergo mental health treatment. See: USA v. Wright, USDC (D.N.J.), Case No. 2:18-cr-00564. He is currently at FCI-Ashland in Kentucky, awaiting release in March 2024.
March 2, 2022 – Jolienne Salinas, 38, a former guard at FCI-Three Rivers in Texas, was sentenced to a six-month prison term after pleading guilty to smuggling methamphetamine to a prisoner with whom she was also having a sexual affair in May 2020. Once released, she must also serve two years of supervised release, including six months of home confinement on electronic monitoring. The federal court for the Southern District of Texas also denied two requests Salinas made to communicate with Troy Martinez, a 30-year-old prisoner at the U.S. Penitentiary (USP) in Lee County, Virginia, whom she described as her fiancé and the father of her youngest son. See: USA v. Salinas, USDC (S.D. Tex.), Case No. 2:21-cr-00739.
March 9, 2022 – Casey Covington, 46, a former guard at FCI-Butner in North Carolina, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to taking $31,000 in bribes in 2020 to smuggle contraband to prisoners, including cellphones, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. [See: PLN, Apr. 2022, p.62.] Also convicted in the scheme were prisoners Robert Henry Huitt, Antonio Demond Byers and Christopher Lee Davis; each had four to six months added to his sentence, plus a year of supervised release. See: USA v. Covington, USDC (E.D.N.C.), Case No. 5:21-cr-00085.
March 9, 2022 – Jimmy Lee Highsmith, 42, a former guard who worked as a Recreation Specialist at FCI-Tallahassee in Florida, was sentenced to four years in prison and five years of supervised release after a jury found him guilty of sexually abusing a prisoner in 2014. He turned to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, but even his attorney saw no merit and withdrew from the effort; the Court then affirmed the conviction on February 6, 2023. See: United States v. Highsmith, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 2864 (11th Cir.). He is currently held at FCI-Loretto in Pennsylvania, with a scheduled release in September 2025.
April 29, 2022 – Keyawnia Ross, a former kitchen supervisor at USP-Thomson in Illinois, pleaded guilty to committing unemployment fraud while posted previously at Brooklyn’s MDC – twice, in both 2019 and 2020 – for a total of $15,800. “Ross certified that she was unemployed, available to take on new work and eligible for benefits when, in fact, she was employed by the BOP, reporting to work, and receiving her federal salary,” the prison agency reported. She has not been sentenced. Meanwhile, in October 2022, the federal court for the Eastern District of New York granted her request to travel to Alabama and Louisiana “to explore work opportunities and leisure.” See: USA v. Ross, USDC (E.D.N.Y.), Case No. 1:20-cr-00489.
May 17, 2022 – Jonathan Kent Owens, 40, a former IT specialist at FCI-Edgefield in South Carolina, was sentenced to time served plus a year of supervised release after pleading guilty to abusing the government’s credit card to buy merchandise for himself between 2014 and 2019. He was also found guilty of taking $1,000 for 120 hours of overtime he never worked in 2019. The federal court for the District of South Carolina also ordered him to pay $29,060.95 in restitution. See: USA v. Owens, USDC (D.S.C.), Case No. 8:21-cr-00252.
May 18, 2022 – Louis Curiel, 47, a former guard at FMC-Carswell in Texas, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing three prisoners in an off-camera stairwell in October 2021. On September 16, 2022, the federal court for the Northern District of Texas sentenced him to 18 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. He then convinced the district court to dismiss his counsel, attorney Suzy Vanegas, and appoint new representation. Attorney Kara Carreras will now represent him in an appeal pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. See: USA v. Curiel, USCA (5th Cir.), Case No. 22-10917.
May 24, 2022 – Jose Viera, 49, a former guard at MDC-Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to crawling into bed with a detainee in her cell in December 2020 and sexually assaulting her. [See: PLN, Aug. 2022, p.63.] He faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced on March 20, 2023. See: USA v. Viera, USDC (C.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:22-cr-00211.
June 2, 2022 – Aldalberto Martinez, a former guard at MDC-Guaynabo in Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty to sucker-punching a detainee from behind in September 2016 and then falsifying a report about the incident. On November 17, 2022, Eric Lugo, a fellow guard, pleaded guilty to falsifying his report about the incident, too. A jury in February 2018 found him guilty of lying to investigators that the detainee, “L.F.”, threatened Martinez, “I’m going to kick your ass.” Lugo is awaiting sentencing. Martinez was sentenced to two years of probation on October 31, 2022. See: USA v. Martinez, USDC (D.P.R.), Case No. 3:18-cr-00089.
June 10, 2022 – Christopher Brian Goodwin, 46, a former guard at FMC-Lexington in Kentucky, was sentenced to 135 months in prison and five years of supervised release for engaging in “multiple sex acts” with four prisoners in 2019. [See: PLN, Aug. 2022, p.63.] At least one of the victims was threatened if she did not yield to his assault. On August 12, 2022, Goodwin was also ordered to pay $78,000 in restitution. See: USA v. Goodwin, USDC (E.D. Ky.), Case No. 5:21-cr-00085. Goodwin filed but then withdrew an appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. See: USA v. Goodwin, USCA (6th Cir.), Case No. 22-5556. He is currently held at FCI-Terminal Island in California, with release scheduled for February 2032.
July 29, 2022 – Hosea Lee, Jr., a former Drug Treatment Specialist who also worked at FMC-Lexington in Kentucky, was also sentenced for engaging in “multiple sex acts,” also with four prisoners and also in 2019. For that he will spend 80 months in prison and 10 years on supervised release, plus he must pay $5,500 in assessments and participate in a sex offender treatment program. Lee coerced compliance from several victims with threats to harm them or their families. On September 26, 2022, he was ordered to pay $56,804.60 in restitution to his pseudonymous victims: $15,354 to “M.W.”; $17,190 to “K.B.”; $16,581.60 to “T.W” ;and $7,500 to “A.H.” See: USA v. Lee, USDC (E.D. Ky.), Case No. 5:21-cr-00084. He is now held at FCI-Coleman in Florida, with release scheduled for April 2028.
August 15, 2022 – Abel Concho, 54, a former guard at MDC-Los Angeles, was sentenced to three months in prison and three months on house arrest after pleading guilty to lying to investigators about sexually abusing a detainee. [See: PLN, Oct. 2022, p.64.] He at first said he never had sex with the woman. Then he decided they had intercourse nine times. In fact, the true number was 35. They had oral sex 28 times, too, though he swore it happened only two or three times. He also lied about phoning the victim after her release. He was ordered to pay $9,500 in restitution and barred from future law enforcement employment or any position requiring use of a firearm. He will remain on supervised release for two years. See: USA v. Concho, USDC (C.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:21-cr-00446.
August 30, 2022 – Philip Orlando Coleman, a former guard at FCI-Edgefield in South Carolina, was sentenced to time served plus three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to taking approximately $52,500 in bribes to smuggle cigarettes to prisoners in 2021. [See: PLN, July 2022, p.63.] In addition, Coleman agreed to forfeit $49,051.66 in cash and two rifles. See: USA v. Coleman, USDC (D.S.C.), Case No. 8:22-cr-00380.
August 31, 2022 – James Theodore Highhouse, 49, a former chaplain at FCI-Dublin in California, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually abusing prisoners at the lockup known as the “rape club,” where two more staffers – including former Warden Ray Garcia – have since been convicted. [See: PLN, Feb. 2023, p.62.] Highhouse was also ordered to serve five years of supervised release and pay $1,500 in fines and assessments. Since no restitution claim was made, however, the federal court for the Northern District of California ordered none at a hearing on November 2, 2022. See: USA v. Highhouse, USDC (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 4:22-cr-00016. An appeal is pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. See: USA v. Highhouse, USCA (9th Cir.), Case No. 22-10231. Meanwhile the former chaplain is held at FCI-Beaumont, with release scheduled for October 2028.
Additional sources: AP News, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Forbes, KRIS, New York Post, Oklahoma City Journal Record, Washington Post, WFTV, WMAZ
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