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News in Brief

Alabama: Kilby Correctional Facility (CF) guard Mario Grant resigned from the state Department of Corrections (DOC) after his arrest on February 27, 2024, for allegedly taking bribes by CashApp to smuggle drugs to an unnamed prisoner between July and September 2023. WSFA in Montgomery reported that his wife, Carole Grant, was also arrested and charged in the scheme. Each was placed in the Montgomery County Detention Facility on $10,000 bond.

Alabama: Former Staton CF guard Sgt. Devlon Williams, 38, was sentenced on March 8, 2024, to 63 months in federal prison for assaulting a subdued and suicidal prisoner, the Birmingham News reported. A jury found Williams guilty in August 2023 of taunting the prisoner, “D.H.,” telling him, “Since you want to die, I’m going to help you,” then kicking him as he lay unresisting on the ground and striking him with his fists and a collapsible baton, breaking his ribs. Williams and fellow guard Larry Managan, Jr., who joined in the assault, were also found guilty of writing false reports to cover up the December 2021 incident. Felony charges were dismissed against Managan, Jr. at government prosecutors’ request; for a misdemeanor count of intimidating eyewitness coworkers he got two years of probation on October 2, 2023, plus a $100 special assessment. Williams also got a $100 special assessment plus a $5,000 fine for his conviction on three felony counts, and he was ordered to serve two years of supervised release.

Arizona: A man who stole a car transport loaded with Corvettes from a Love’s Truck Stop in Wilcox on February 15, 2024, told Arizona state troopers who caught up with him that he was recently released from an Oklahoma lockup and needed a ride home. KOKH in Oklahoma City reported that Isaiah Walker, 23, was booked into jail in Arizona’s Cochise County. The load of sportscars, valued at $1.25 million, was returned to the transport’s unnamed driver, who continued with his delivery. Convicted of assault and larceny in 2019, Walker had been released from Oklahoma’s Muskogee County Jail in May 2023.

Arizona: Former Maricopa County Jail guard Andres Salazar, 28, was sentenced on March 14, 2024, to two years in state prison for his role in a scheme to smuggle illegal drugs into the lockup. KTAR in Phoenix reported that Salazar was arrested after he arrived at work in November 2022 and a search of his car found fentanyl and meth. He pleaded guilty in December 2023. Charges are still pending against his alleged accomplices, detainees Anthony Lerma and Antwaun Travon Ware, as well as purported drug dealer Khadar Omar Sheikh.

Australia: Former prison guard Kevin Kemp, 53, told News Corp. Australia that getting punched on the school bus he now drives on February 17, 2024, was worse than any violence he experienced in 28 years before retiring from New South Wales prisons. His unnamed 14-year-old assailant left Kemp with a split lip. “Something has got to be done,” Kemp said.

California: On February 27, 2024, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William Ryan freed two state prisoners after agreeing with prosecutors that they were wrongly convicted of a 2003 drive-by shooting. The Los Angeles Times reported that Jofama Coleman, 41, and Abel Soto, 36, were exonerated after county District Attorney George Gascón joined the petition filed by attorney Ellen Eggers, a former public defender who has secured exonerations for other prisoners. Eggers, in turn, was assisted by schoolteacher Jessica Dirschel, 49, who recruited some of her students in the effort. She also helped Soto’s family recover a hefty fee for an earlier habeas petition filed by attorney Aaron Spolin that went nowhere, though it triggered a state bar investigation into the attorney, as PLN reported. [See: PLN, Sep. 2023, p.16.]

California: A former state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) guard got a six-month prison term on March 18, 2024, for her part in a “Code of Silence” cover-up of a fatal assault on a prisoner by her subordinate guards at California State Prison. The Sacramento Bee reported that Brenda Villa, 32, got much less than the six years prosecutors originally sought. Federal Judge William B. Shubb pointed to a mental breakdown she had after her December 2023 felony conspiracy conviction, refusing to believe that she would recidivate: “I don’t,” the Judge declared. As PLN reported, Villa’s subordinates, Arturo Pacheco and Ashley Aurich, got prison terms of 151 months and 21 months, respectively, after Pacheco knocked the legs from under Ronnie Price while they were escorting him, and the 65-year-old prisoner fell and later died in September 2016. Credulous Judge Shubb said at Aurich’s December 2023 sentencing that he believed Pacheco was “basically a good man,” who wouldn’t have done what he did if Aurich hadn’t “had his back.” [See: PLN, Jan. 2023, p.32.] He noted also that she’d already been moved to a halfway house before deciding to go light on Villa’s sentence. See: United States v. Villa, USDC (E.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:22-cr-00245.

California: Admitting it was “truly idiotic,” former CDCR guard Benito Hugie, 49, accepted a two-year prison term on March 21, 2024, for smuggling a “grill” of gold teeth to Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility prisoner Shawn Brown, 28, in September 2020. As PLN reported, Hugie pleaded guilty on the same day that Brown admitted to COVID-19 benefit fraud with his two brothers, who were also involved in smuggling his “grill.” [See: PLN, Feb. 2024, p.63.]

Florida: State DOC guard Jerry Brawley III, 20, was fired and arrested on March 13, 2024, for allegedly raping a prisoner at Homestead Correctional Institution. The Miami Herald said that Brawley reportedly ordered all other prisoners in the block to remain in their cells while he summoned Atara Filmore to a guard station after midnight headcount. There he blocked the window and turned off the lights before demanding she have sex with him, she said.

Georgia: More trouble at Smith State Prison was reported on February 23, 2024, when WJCL in Savannah said that two guards, Sgts. Shaniya Odom and Rosemary Johnson, were arrested for smuggling marijuana into the lockup on February 9 and 22, 2024, respectively. Odom was fired on February 10, 2024, the Georgia Virtue reported, but Johnson’s employment status was unclear; she was being held in the Tatnall County Jail on a $6,000 bond. As PLN reported, a 2022 drug bust at the prison resulted in the firing and arrest on racketeering charges of Warden Brian D. Adams in February 2023. A few months later, guard Robert Clark was murdered by prisoner Layton Lester in an October 2023 stabbing, which also left his fellow prisoner Marko Willingham wounded. [See: PLN, July 2023, p.11; and Dec. 2023, p.63.]

Georgia: Habersham County Jail guard Katlyn Harwell, 26, was arrested on March 15, 2024, for allegedly smuggling a cellphone and Newport cigarettes into Lee Arrendale State Prison between January 1 and March 12, 2024, giving at least some of it to an unnamed prisoner. WGAU in Athens reported that she posted a $16,000 bond and was released the same day.

Indiana: The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Indiana announced that former BOP guard Jordan Kelsheimer, 25, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison on March 20, 2024, after she admitted taking $5,140 in bribes to smuggle cigarettes into the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex. Investigators tipped off by prisoners who saw Kelsheimer kissing another unnamed prisoner—and engaging in more intimate contact—found her in July 2022 with a cache of his love-letters as well as eight packs of Newport cigarettes. She was also ordered to serve two years of supervised release and pay a $500 fine.

Iowa: Anamosa State Penitentiary prisoner Christopher Morales had five years added to his second-degree murder sentence on March 4, 2024, for beating an unnamed guard with a weapon fashioned from a belt and padlock. It was unclear when the assault occurred. KCRG in Cedar Rapids said Morales’ release date was at least 2066 for a fatal Sioux City shooting on New Years Day 2021; that prison term will now be extended for assaulting the guard.

Louisiana: A brand new guard with the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC) was fired and arrested on February 21, 2024, for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with an unnamed prisoner at Allen Correctional Center. KALB in Alexandria reported that M. Elizabeth Vincent, 27, had worked for DPSC just since December 2023 and graduated from guard cadet academy the following month. Her employment was still on probationary status when it was terminated. She was charged with one count of malfeasance in office and booked on a $25,000 bond into the Allen Parish jail.

Louisiana: With just 11 months on the job, Orleans Justice Center jail guard Courtney Wicker, 33, was arrested on March 16, 2024, after she admitted taking a $2,000 bribe to smuggle Suboxone to an unnamed detainee the previous December. WVUE in New Orleans said that she also admitted taking another $5,000 bribe to deliver more contraband that she was still holding. She was the sixth guard at the jail arrested for smuggling since November 2022.

Maryland: On March 19, 2024, state DOC guard Daric Evans, 32, pleaded guilty to covering up a July 2021 assault on an Eastern Correctional Institution prisoner by fellow guard Samuel Warren. Fellow guard David Quillen, 37, made the same plea in the same incident on February 22, 2024. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland said that Warren, then 35, repeatedly punched the unnamed prisoner, and Quillen videotaped an interview with the victim. But the guards decided the prisoner’s teary accusations and bloody face looked too bad for Warren—so Quillen destroyed the tape, and then he and Evans lied to investigators about what happened. Warren pleaded guilty to the assault in September 2023. All three will be sentenced later in 2024. See: United States v. Warren, USDC (D. Md.), Case No. 1:23-cr-00339; United States v. Quillen, USDC (D. Md.), Case No. 1:24-cr-00009; and United States v. Evans, USDC (D. Md.), Case No. 1:24-cr-00058.

Michigan: When a security alarm sounded at the shuttered Standish Maximum Correctional Facility on the night of March 10, 2024, responding Arenac County Sheriff’s deputies found Cody L. Bellamy, 42, had broken a window to enter, allegedly “to see what was inside,” as Undersheriff Don McIntyre recalled for MLive Media Group. Bellamy was carrying burglary tools. An unregistered handgun and jewelry were found nearby in his still-running 2015 Lexus with Oregon plates. A preliminary Breathalyzer test indicated he was drunk. He was arrested and released from the county lockup after posting a $100,000 bond. The prison has been closed since October 2009. “We have people who have tried to escape from jail or prison,” McIntyre said, “but we don’t have them trying to break in.”

Michigan: Former Genesee County Jail guard Jacob Wilkinson, 24, pleaded guilty on March 7, 2024, to felony counts for torturing and killing his dog, MLive Media Group reported. Wilkinson was fired and arrested in April 2022 after “Habs” nipped him, and the enraged jail guard duct-taped the animal’s muzzle and threw it into a ditch before shooting it three times in the head, as PLN reported. [See: PLN, June 6, 2022, online.] He faces up to seven years in prison.

Michigan: On March 14, 2024, Clare County Jail guard Jake Tessner, 53, was charged with second-degree criminal sexual contact with an unnamed detainee, WJRT in Flint reported. The 26-year veteranguard has been suspended without pay since the detainee made the accusation in January 2024, Sheriff John Wilson said. Tessner’s bail was set at $50,000.

Michigan: CBS News reported that state prisoner Michael Kechum, 46, was charged on March 15, 2024, with fatally strangling and stabbing Ruben Martinez, 28, his cellmate at Macomb Correctional Facility (MCF). The Detroit Free Press reported that Kechum stabbed another unnamed prisoner at breakfast that same morning, on October 18, 2023, after which guards found Martinez’s hogtied body stuffed under his bed in their shared cell. Martinez was serving a sentence for a 2011 Saginaw County robbery. Kechum was initially incarcerated for running a meth lab but had time added for a 2019 stabbing of another fellow prisoner. He was moved to Ionia Correctional Facility. Represented by Detroit attorney Jonathan Marko, Martinez’s family joined a suit filed against the state DOC by the victim in another October 2022 prisoner-on-prisoner stabbing at the lockup, Daniel Mastaw, 40, as well as the family of a prisoner who died in yet another stabbing the month before that killed 34-year-old Christopher Neely. Former MCF Warden George Stephenson was walked off the job after that, as PLN reported. [See: PLN, Jan. 2023, p.63.]

Minnesota: State prisoner Dominique Jefferson, 37, had an extra 15 years added to his sentence on March 14, 2024, for assaulting a guard at Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility. CBS News reported that Jefferson, who was convicted of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in 2005, was ordered back to his cell by the unnamed guard on January 15, 2023. Instead he took a plastic mouthguard from his pocket and inserted it, saying: “Better ring the bell. I ain’t switching in. I’ve been waiting for you.” He then repeatedly punched the guard, who lost vision in one eye and needed surgery to repair her broken facial bones and scarring. To other guards who responded and restrained him, Jefferson vowed, “I’ll remember y’all when I come out.”

Mississippi: Accused of forcing a jail detainee to lick urine off the floor, former Pearl Police Department Off. Michael C. Green, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law on March 14, 2024, NBC News reported. Mayor Jake Windham called the cop’s behavior “despicable,” promising he would have fired him if Green hadn’t resigned shortly after the Christmas weekend 2023 incident. The unnamed detainee said he banged on the cell door to use the bathroom but got no reply, so he relieved himself on the floor. When Green saw it, he forced the detainee to lick the floor clean and even recorded the sadism on his cellphone. Windham admitted that “it’ll take the citizens time to regain some trust.”

Missouri: A St. Charles County jail guard was behind bars in neighboring Warren County on February 14, 2024, after unleashing his pet husky on neighbors at his apartment complex and falsely claiming it was a “drug-sniffing dog.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Bjorn Stotser, 40, was not arrested after cops answered a first call about a man who was washing his car when the guard confronted him and accused him of hiding drugs in it. After police left the scene, Stotser allegedly sicced the dog on an employee in the complex office who had called them. She called them again, and he was arrested and placed on administrative leave.

New Jersey: Former Bayside State Prison guard Joshua Hand, 34, pleaded guilty on February 26, 2024, to failing to intervene during violent fights between prisoners that were orchestrated in 2019 by a fellow guard who dubbed them “going away parties,” the Cherry Hill Courier Post reported. That former guard, John Makos, also committed one assault, and he admitted setting up another to be carried out by prisoners that he coerced into participating in a real-life “fight club,” as PLN reported. [See: PLN, Jan. 2023, p.63.] For that, Makos was fired and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison in May 2023. Hand faces up to 10 years when he is sentenced in July 2024. Like Makos, his employment with the state DOC has been terminated.

New York: WYNT in Latham reported that former Schoharie County Jail guard Timothy J. Feldman, 22, was sentenced on February 28, 2024, to serve up to six years in state prison for attempting to enter a Saratoga Springs bar in July 2023 while carrying a loaded unregistered gun. A bar bouncer found the “ghost” gun and alerted city cops. They arrested Feldman, who was off-duty at the time. He admitted buying parts for the gun online and assembling it himself. It was unclear when his employment at the jail ended.

New York: Marc Johnson, a nine-year veteran guard with the New York City DOC, was suspended from work at Rikers Island jail complex on March 6, 2024, after a random search uncovered contraband linked to him, the New York Daily News reported. Investigators found a metal box at the jail, and stashed inside were three watches, a set of headphones and a microphone, a speaker, a clock and an airplane-sized bottle of Jack Daniels honey liqueur, which matched a second bottle found in Johnson’s car. DOC Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie is expanding the number of body scanners for staff, which were introduced at three Rikers Island lockups by her predecessor, Luis A. Molina. Maginley-Liddie will take them to all seven jails in the complex—including the Infirmary Command, where the stash linked to Johnson was found.

New York: The Auburn Citizen reported that eight DOC guards were injured in separate incidents with two prisoners at Auburn Correctional Facility on March 3, 2024. No one involved was named. Quoting the state Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (COPBA), the newspaper said a guard attempting a contraband search in the mess hall was punched by a prisoner, sending him to a hospital with a fractured orbital bone. Four guards who responded were also injured but remained on duty. Another “disruptive” prisoner removed from the mess hall was taken to his cell, where he punched still another guard, and two more responding guards were also injured. All three remained on duty. COPBA Western Region Pres. Kenny Gold chided legislators to address the violence, saying that they were “more worried about the individuals that don’t pay taxes rather than the taxpayers that serve their communities.”

New York: Yasmin Talbot, 48, the former Nurse Manager for Nassau County Correctional Center’s healthcare provider, Nassau University Medical Center’s NuHealth, was charged on January 4, 2024, with smuggling a knife to detainee Christopher Wright, 37. The Long Island Herald reported that it was recovered from him in March 2023, sparking an investigation that found the two were having an affair and that Talbot also used a phony name to fund Wright’s commissary account, as well as providing him personal information about other detainees. Wright, who already faced contraband charges, picked up conspiracy counts for his role in the scheme. Talbot was suspended in August 2023 and resigned a month later, shortly before her one-year probated sentence expired for drunk driving with a child in the car in October 2022.

North Carolina: WRAL in Raleigh reported that state prisoner Quincy Amerson, 49, was freed on March 14, 2024, after serving 23 years of a life-without-parole sentence for intentionally driving over seven-year-old Sharita Rivera in Harnett County in August 1999. Amerson’s car was one of several that struck the child’s body on an unlit back road at night, investigators said, but no other evidence connected him to her killing. Duke University’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic led the effort to revisit his murder conviction, hiring experts to reconstruct the crash scene. They testified that the original state police reconstruction was flawed by speculation and “junk science,” convincing a state judge to toss the conviction on February 16, 2024. Four weeks later, District Attorney Suzanne Matthews dismissed the charges, leaving two unsolved murders: Sharita and her mother, Patrice Rivera, who was found fatally stabbed the night the child died.

Ohio: Stark County Jail detainee Prince Toussant R. Trammell, 25, was charged with felony attempted murder and strangulation after allegedly wrestling keys from a guard in the jail dayroom on February 21, 2024. According to the Canton Repository, the unnamed guard twice lost consciousness during the scuffle. He was able to “regain and maintain control of the inmate,” Sheriff George Maier said, but not before Trammell tossed the keys to a fellow detainee. That detainee refused to use them, though. The guard was treated at a hospital and released. Trammell had been at the jail since February 13, 2024, after allegedly blockading an unnamed victim in her bedroom and preventing her from calling 911. His $25,000 bond on that charge was increased to $1 million after he assaulted the guard.

Ohio: State prisoner Charles Daniels, 45, had 17-1/2 years added to his sentence on March 14, 2024, after he pleaded guilty to running a drug ring from his cell at Ohio State Prison from October 2020 to February 2022, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. He was serving time at the “supermax” lockup for a 2017 fentanyl-dealing conviction when recorded prison calls to outside dealers were intercepted, leading to the charges against him and 15 others.

Ohio: Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail guard William McMillan, Jr., 24, was arrested on March 14, 2024, by state investigators who said he admitted taking cryptocurrency bribes to smuggle contraband to detainees, the Scioto Post reported. His employment has ended, but when was unclear.

Oregon: Former BOP guard Nickolas Herrera, 34, was sentenced on March 18, 2024, to 15 months in federal prison for helping smuggle contraband food, clothes, cigarettes and drugs to a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan while he worked there from 2015 to 2019. The Statesman Journal reported that prisoner Dontae Hunt got 15 months for his role in the scheme, added to a 25-year term he is serving for a Gresham murder committed in 2018—just a year after former Pres. Barack Obama (D) commuted a 20-year term he began in 2005 for dealing crack cocaine. Elizabeth McIntosh, a formerly unincarcerated co-conspirator, pleaded guilty to supplying the contraband and was sentenced in 2023. Herrera was not the mule in the operation but rather allowed Hunt to phone McIntosh to arrange delivery of the goods by visitors in areas where Herrera worked; he then conducted phony searches of them and let the contraband pass into the prison, taking payments sent electronically by McIntosh.

Pennsylvania: On February 12, 2024, Clinton County Correctional Facility guard Kelly L. Fye, 31, was jailed on charges she repeatedly had sex with an unnamed detainee at the lockup beginning in September 2023. Her bail was set at $50,000, the Lockhaven Express reported. She was the first of two jail guards charged with institutional sexual assault in less than two weeks; on February 23, 2024, WHTM in Harrisburg reported that York County Prison guard Jennifer Claybaugh, 37, was jailed and released on an unsecured bond for allegedly having sex with an unnamed prisoner at least six times in her car while parked outside his work-release job in June 2023. At least the weather was warm. Both guards insisted their relations with detainees were “consensual,” which is legally impossible when abusing a position of power to coerce sex from someone incarcerated. Another guard who had sex with a detainee before she was fired from Lycoming County Prison will avoid prosecution for that crime, according to a plea deal reported by WKOK in Williamsport on March 23, 2024. That’s when Olivia Katzmaier’s former beau, James E. King III, 46, pleaded guilty to a contraband charge for a cellphone the two used to send love notes and racy photos, as PLN reported. [See: PLN, Jan. 2023, p.63.] King got an 18-to-60-month sentence, running concurrently with a 20-year federal prison term he got for a November 2022 conviction on drug and robbery charges. Katzmaier still faces forgery, theft and other charges from interactions with other detainees at the lockup.

Pennsylvania: On February 26, 2024, Allegheny County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Lauren Baricella, 33, on felony charges of leaving drugs for her boyfriend to find and smuggle into the county lockup when he returned from a December 2023 court appearance. WTAE in Pittsburgh said that deflated balloons filled with suspected marijuana and heroin were found in a bathroom at the county courthouse, which Baricella allegedly left there just before detainee Jesse Eaton appeared on unspecified charges. Investigators then reviewed recorded calls he made from the jail, in which the two discussed plans to transfer the drugs.

Pennsylvania: For shoving and biting a guard on the ear while detained at Crawford County Correctional Facility, William D. Copeland, 34, was sentenced to state prison for two to four years on February 29, 2024. The Meadville Tribune reported that he was also fined $100 and charged $666.25 in court costs. The assault on the unnamed guard happened in September 2023, while Copeland was awaiting trial for another assault on an unidentified woman at his home. He pleaded no contest to that charge and got the same sentence, less 298 days credit for time served. He was also ordered to pay another $100 fine and $613.25 more in court costs.

Pennsylvania: A five-year-veteran guard at State Correctional Institution in Camp Hill was charged with misdemeanor simple assault and reckless endangerment on March 5, 2024, for intentionally wounding his supervisor with a stun gun. Penn Live Media said that Michael J. Grigas, 31, was put on unpaid leave after he shot the unnamed boss and burned a hole in his pants in November 2023. Grigas had called him “incompetent” during an earlier argument before the boss entered the guard control “bubble” for coffee, and Grigas said he must first ask permission. The supervisor ignored him and stepped around Grigas, who grabbed the weapon and fired three times, casually telling a co-worker: “Maybe he learned his lesson.”

South Carolina: On March 18, 2024, state Law Enforcement Division agents arrested former Lexington County Detention Center guard James A. Johnson, 49, for allegedly delivering a contraband cellphone to an unnamed detainee in September 2020, WOLO in Columbia reported. The State added that in lieu of a cash bribe, Johnson allegedly let the detainee “set him up” with Skyy Glover, 23, an unincarcerated accomplice also arrested in the scheme for bringing Johnson the iPhone 7 Plus that he hid on a food tray to deliver.

Tennessee: WVLT in Knoxville said that Fentress County Jail guard Coltan D. Jones, 24, was fired and arrested on February 21, 2024, after a grand jury indicted him on four charges of unlawful photography and one count of official misconduct for allegedly taking photos of detainees while on the job for his own enjoyment. It wasn’t clear what sort of photos he took, nor of whom, nor even if they were candid or posed. The state Bureau of Investigation began looking into the matter in July 2023. After his arrest, he was booked into the jail on a $10,000 bond.

Tennessee: Former Loudon County Jail guard Brian J. Phillips, 32, was sentenced in federal court on March 4, 2022, to five months in prison and two years of supervised release for injuring a detainee who attempted to get a second dinner tray without permission in January 2021. DOJ said that the Phillips knocked the tray from the hand of “E.H” before slamming him to the concrete floor, fracturing the man’s skull. He pleaded guilty to one count of excessive force.

Tennessee: Law & Crime reported that former Maury County Jail guard James Stewart Justice (neé Thomas), 32, was sentenced on March 18, 2024, to 15 months in federal prison, followed by a year of supervised release, for sexually abusing a former detainee in 2018—while guarding her in a hospital as she recovered from surgery—and then lying that it was she who had sexually pursued him. He also lied that two supervisors advised him not to report the made-up advances. Found guilty of obstruction of justice in April 2023, he could have gotten 20 years, as PLN reported. [See: PLN, July 2023, p.63.] Justice apparently made up the lies after the detainee, Carissa Christ, recalled for a local TV station how she woke up in the hospital to find him raping her and then raped her again after she was discharged back to the jail. Justice should know something about sexual predators: In 2017, his younger sister, Elizabeth Thomas, 15, was kidnapped by her 50-year-old teacher, Tad Cummins. After they were found 38 days later in California, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in 2018. Thomas then became his sister’s legal guardian when their mother, Kimberly Thomas, was charged with abusing Elizabeth as a child. She reached a plea deal, and charges were expunged. For the kidnapping by her teacher, Elizabeth Thomas accepted a $650,000 settlement from the Maury County School Board in 2020.

Washington: Benton County Jail guard Kevin Lee Bell was arrested on March 5, 2024, after an unnamed detainee accused the five-year veteran of sexual misconduct, the Tri-City Herald reported. County deputy prosecutor Holai Holbrook asked for bail to be set at $50,000 because Bell might intimidate witnesses, which Bell’s attorney, Scott Johnson, called a “fantasy.” The county superior court set his bail at $5,000 and issued him a no-contact order.  

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