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Pennsylvania Jail Warden Fired, Deputy Warden Resigns After Guard Assaults Detainee

Warden Dave Gallagher of Pennsylvania’s Clearfield County Jail was fired and escorted off the job on December 7, 2023, just over a month after Deputy Warden Eric Bush resigned on October 28, 2023. Their departures follow an alleged assault on an unnamed and handcuffed 65-year-old detainee by a jail guard on October 6, 2023.

That guard, Tyler Thomas Daniels, 26, is now himself in custody and awaiting trial for the assault. Daniels is also accused in a civil suit of allowing fentanyl to be smuggled into the jail, causing the July 2023 death of another detainee, Kaitlyn Evans, 31. Filed by her mother, Heather Walstrom, with the aid of Philadelphia attorneys from Williams Cedar LLC, the suit’s named defendants also include guards Robert Foust, Kimberly Wallace, Zackery Clark and David Litzinger, along with Gallagher. See: Walstrom v. Clearfield Cty., USDC (W.D. Pa.), Case No. 3:23-cv-00255.

Daniels was one of three Keystone State jail guards accused or convicted of detainee abuse and contraband smuggling during a two-month stretch in October and November 2023, when two state Department of Corrections (DOC) employees were also accused or convicted of smuggling contraband.

On November 24, 2023, former Blair County Prison guard Eric William Dostal, Jr., 29, was sentenced to 10 years of probation for opening the cell door of an unnamed jail detainee and allowing five other detainees to enter and beat him. Dostal was ordered to pay part of $1,200 restitution owed the victim. The rest will come from detainees convicted in the attack: Richard Allen Ewing, 43, John Allen Jukes, 42, Kyler Luckadoo, 22, and Delano Brown, 23. Ewing was sentenced to at least 20 years, Jukes and Luckadoo to at least 18-1/2 years, and Brown to at least 15 years. Detainee Korey Sitton, 37, was also convicted in the assault and received a county jail sentence of at least nine months. Charges are pending against another former guard at the jail, Caleb John McGeary, 33, who is accused of taking over $15,000 in bribes for his role in a months-long drug-smuggling scheme that ended with his arrest on October 10, 2023.

Meanwhile, DOC psychologist Laurie Semelsberger, 61, received a three-year probated sentence and a $400 fine on October 4, 2023, for smuggling pornography to an unnamed 37-year-old prisoner at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) in Somerset. DOC investigators found over 700 calls the two exchanged during an eight-month affair in early 2022.

On November 13, 2023, former SCI-Houtzman food service instructor Neil Jonathan Rudy, 42, was sentenced to at least 90 days in prison for smuggling Suboxone and “K-2” synthetic marijuana to prisoners in the lockup. After learning that police had charged Rudy only with criminal use of a communication facility, a visibly annoyed Judge Frederic J. Ammerman proceeded to hand down the maximum sentence for the third-degree felony. He also ordered Rudy to pay a fine equal to the $5,000 he admitted accepting in bribes.  


Sources: Altoona Mirror, Courier Express, Gant News, Progress News, Somerset Daily American, WJAC, WTAJ

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