State Of Minnesota Prisoner, Housed In A Private Prison, Died After Nurse Overruled Doctor’s Orders That He Be Transported To Hospital – Denied Emergency Medical Care

June 25, 2012

RUSH CITY, MINNESOTA – An inmate with a history of seizures was denied emergency care by a prison nurse who overrode a doctor’s orders for an ambulance, and within an hour the man suffered irreversible brain damage that led to his death, according to documents obtained by the Star Tribune.

Although prisoner Xavius Scullark-Johnson had suffered multiple seizures over a period of hours, a nurse at the state prison in Rush City cited “protocols” in turning away an ambulance team sent to take him to a nearby hospital, crew reports show.

Johnson’s 2010 death is expected to produce a federal lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), with a filing likely early this week.

The agency said Friday that it would not allow Dr. David Paulson, its medical director, to be interviewed about the death, “due to potential litigation.” Officials said the department has investigated Johnson’s death, but would not provide details or describe the protocols cited by the nurse.

Yet events in the hours before Johnson was found “pulseless” in his cell raise questions about denial of care because of the rationed-care philosophy of the for-profit contractor Minnesota has hired to care for the state’s 9,400 prisoners. Corizon Inc., formerly known as Correctional Medical Services, has had a contract with the state since 1998, worth $28 million this year.

One of the contract’s major cost-saving provisions says that Corizon is not required to provide overnight medical staff in the state’s prisons, except Oak Park Heights and Faribault, where medically complicated, elderly and terminally ill prisoners are held.

No doctors, who are all Corizon employees, work in the state’s prisons after 4 p.m. or on weekends. Corrections nurses, who are state employees, work seven days a week, but their last shifts end at 10:30 p.m. The last time the Rush City prison had 24-hour medical coverage was in 2002.

Additionally, services such as ambulance runs are strictly monitored by Corizon and the department in an effort to cut costs, according to department medical staff. An average ambulance run costs about $3,000 plus mileage, the department says.

Corizon declined to comment for this story, or to allow a reporter to interview the Corizon physician who was on call the night of the incident.

‘Something is not right’

Johnson’s last hours are a series of scenes that show prison medical staff acting with indifference as well as compassion, corrections officers caught in the middle as communications break down, and guards left to evaluate a prisoner spiraling downward, according to DOC documents and ambulance reports.

The incident started on the evening of June 28, just as the health services unit was closing for the night.

Johnson, 27, a St. Paul native who suffered from schizophrenia and a seizure disorder, was found soaked in urine on the floor of his cell. He was coiled in a fetal position and in an altered state of consciousness that suggested he had suffered a seizure, according to notes taken by nurse Linda L. Andrews, who was on duty at that hour. He was somewhat combative when a nurse tried to take his vitals and wipe him with a cool washcloth, but his breathing was normal.

Andrews wrote that she covered the prisoner, then issued orders to a lieutenant to let Johnson sleep and to check on him during rounds. Andrews did not contact the system’s on-call doctor, according to her last chart, written at 10:55 p.m.

About four hours later, Dr. Sharyn Barney, a longtime employee of Corizon, picked up her telephone at home. A corrections officer told her that Johnson had had a seizure the previous evening that was evaluated by the health staff, but that now his cellmate was having “trouble waking” him, according to the doctor’s notes.

Barney, who works primarily out of the prison in Moose Lake, told the officer that Johnson was probably “exceptionally sleepy from the seizure the previous evening.”

She advised officers to monitor him carefully and alert the medical staff when they arrived for the morning shift.

Under the department’s contract with Corizon, there is just one on-call doctor to serve the entire prison system across Minnesota, and who is then left to assess a prisoner’s case without the benefit of a written file because health service units are shut down overnight.

Prison medical staff interviewed in recent weeks say the practice often leaves the doctor “flying blind” and leaves prison officers with no on-site medical staff to evaluate a patient’s distress.

An hour or two later, the officer called Barney back. “He was uncomfortable and felt something just was not right and we agreed to call for an ambulance,” the doctor wrote. It was a 911 call.


A two-person ambulance team arrived at the Rush City prison at 5:39 a.m. While they evaluated Johnson, noting he was “slow to respond,” nurse Denise L. Garin arrived. She did not want Johnson transported, the ambulance crew wrote.

“They say the patient has had three seizures through the night,” a crew member wrote in her June 29, 2010, report. “They believe that he has a seizure [history] but do not know because health services is closed at night. They did not want patient transported.

“They have protocols to deal with the patient,” her notes continue, “and say this is because patient has recently gotten his Dilantin cut in half.”

Dilantin is a drug used to control seizures. An autopsy later showed that Johnson’s Dilantin was “below therapeutic level,” but there is no mention in Garin’s charting why she refused to let the ambulance crew take him to the hospital to have his Dilantin level checked immediately.

Garin’s own report makes no mention of protocols or drug dosages.

In fact, Garin wrote that Johnson was “alert, his vital signs were stable and he responded appropriately” — the opposite of what the crew observed.

Garin did not apprise the on-call doctor about her decision to cancel the ambulance order, according to her entries in Johnson’s medical file. Garin, who continues to work at the prison, could not be reached for comment.

The ambulance crew packed up and left. It was 6:07 a.m.

About 35 minutes later, an emergency alarm called staff to Johnson’s cell. Garin wrote that she found Johnson face-down in his bunk. She turned his head and noted a heartbeat. She asked an officer to stay with Johnson while she tried to reach a doctor. While waiting, she was called back to the cell. She pressed Johnson’s neck to find the cartoid artery and found that he was “pulseless.”

About 20 minutes later, a new ambulance crew arrived while prison staff administered chest compressions on Johnson. He could not be revived.

Johnson was transported to the Fairview Lakes Regional Hospital in Wyoming, Minn., and then later to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. He was pronounced dead at 7:37 a.m. on June 30. “Scans had shown herniated brain stem. Administration notified,” a nurse’s last entry stated.

At the time, Johnson was expected to be released from prison in less than three months.

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Man Exonerated Of Bogus Rape Charge After 5 Years In Prison – Victim Lied About Kidnapping, Rape, Received $1.5 Million In Civil Suit, And Probably Won’t be Prosecuted For Lying

May 24, 2012

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA — A former high school football star whose dreams of a pro career were shattered by a rape conviction burst into tears Thursday as a judge threw out the charge that sent him to prison for more than five years.

Brian Banks, now 26, pleaded no contest 10 years ago on the advice of his lawyer after a childhood friend falsely accused him of attacking her on their high school campus.

In a strange turn of events, the woman, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on Facebook when he got out of prison.

During an initial meeting with him, she said she had lied; there had been no kidnap and no rape and she offered to help him clear his record, court records state.

But she refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a $1.5 million payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach schools.

During a second meeting that was secretly videotaped, she told Banks, “`I will go through with helping you, but it’s like at the same time all that money they gave us, I mean gave me, I don’t want to have to pay it back,'” according to Freddie Parish, a defense investigator who was at the meeting.

It was uncertain whether Gibson will have to return the money and unlikely she would be prosecuted for making the false accusation so long ago, when she was 15.

Gibson did not attend the hearing and she could not be reached for comment. Prosecutors and defense attorneys said they were unable to find her recently.

Banks, once a star middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, had attracted the interest of such college football powerhouses as the University of Southern California, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, according to the website, which tracks the recruiting of high school football and basketball players.

Banks said he had verbally agreed to attend USC on a scholarship when he was arrested.

He still hopes to play professional football and has been working out regularly. His attorney Justin Brooks appealed to NFL teams to give him a chance.

“He has the speed and the strength. He certainly has the heart,” Brooks said. “I hope he gets the attention of people in the sports world.”

Gil Brandt, an NFL draft consultant, said Banks would be eligible to sign with any team that might show interest. However, his years away from the game will be hard to overcome.

“History tells us guys who come back after one or two years away when they go into the service find it awfully hard,” Brandt said. “And this has been much longer a time.”

Brandt compared the challenge to someone who has been out of high school for years trying to get an A in their first class in college.

Banks said outside court that he had lost all hope of proving his innocence until Gibson contacted him.

“It’s been a struggle. But I’m unbroken and I’m still here today,” the tall, muscular Banks said, tears flowing down his face.

He recalled being shocked and speechless on the day Gibson reached out to him after he had been released from prison, having served five years and two months.

“I thought maybe it wasn’t real,” he said. “How could she be contacting me?”

He said he knew that if he became angry when he met with her it wouldn’t help, so he struggled to keep calm.

“I stopped what I was doing and got down on my knees and prayed to God to help me play my cards right,” he said.

In court, Deputy District Attorney Brentford Ferreira told Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim that prosecutors agreed the case should be thrown out. Kim dismissed it immediately.

Banks had tried to win release while he was in prison, but Brooks, a law professor and head of the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law in San Diego, said he could not have been exonerated without the woman coming forward and recanting her story.

Brooks said it was the first case he had ever taken in which the defendant had already served his time and had been free for a number of years.

Banks remained on probation, however, and was still wearing his electronic monitoring bracelet at the hearing. His lawyer said the first thing the two planned to do was report to probation officials and have it removed.

“The charges are dismissed now,” Brooks said. “It’s as if it didn’t happen. … It was the shortest, greatest proceeding I’ve ever been part of.”

Banks had been arrested after Gibson said he met her in a school hallway and urged her to come into an elevator with him. The two had been friends since middle school and were in the habit of making out in a school stairwell, according to court papers.

There were contradictions in Gibson’s story, as she told some people the rape happened in the elevator and others that it happened in the stairwell.

A kidnapping enhancement was added to the case because of the allegation Banks had taken her to the stairwell. That enhancement also was thrown out Thursday.

Outside court, Banks donned a sweat shirt that read “Innocent,” as several friends and family members wept. His parents were jubilant, and Banks thanked them for standing by him.

“I know the trauma, the stress that I’ve been through, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to have your child torn from you,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done without my parents.”

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Maule Guards At Alabama Tutwiler Prison For Women Abused Female Inmates For Years – At Least 20 Guards Transferred Or Fired In Past 5 Years After Sex With Inmates

May 23, 2012

WETUMPKA, ALABAMA – Male guards at an Alabama women’s prison engaged in the widespread sexual abuse of female inmates for years, a nonprofit group alleged in a formal complaint filed with the Justice Department on Tuesday.

The Equal Justice Initiative asked the Justice Department to investigate alleged incidents occurring between 2009 and 2011 at the Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama. The federal agency confirmed that it received the complaint though declined further comment.

“In interviews with more than 50 women incarcerated at Tutwiler, EJI uncovered evidence of frequent and severe officer-on-inmate sexual violence,” the Montgomery-based group said in a statement.

“This troubling cycle of abuse and lack of accountability has established a widespread pattern and practice of custodial sexual misconduct,” said Bryan Stevenson, the group’s executive director.

Stevenson also blamed the Alabama Department of Corrections for under-reporting the alleged attacks, which the group says include rapes, and for responding inadequately.

The group claims that more than “20 Tutwiler employees have been transferred or terminated in the past five years for having illegal sexual contact with prisoners.”

“It’s an ongoing thing, a daily thing,” said Stefanie Hibbett, 31, a former Tutwiler inmate. “You see women raped and beaten, and nothing is ever done.”

Hibbett said she was the victim of sexual assault in November 2010. She said she told the prison’s warden about the assault, but no charges were ever filed against the prison guard she says attacked her. An Alabama judge dismissed a civil suit she filed in the case in August.

Several imprisoned women also allegedly became pregnant after being raped by guards, giving birth while in custody, the nonprofit group reported.

CNN cannot independently confirm that account. The Alabama attorney general’s office referred questions to the Alabama Department of Corrections, which did not immediately return a call for comment.

A 2007 Justice Department report found that Tutwiler maintained the highest rate of sexual assault among prisons for women and 11th overall of those evaluated across the United States.

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Riot At Privately Owned Adams County Mississippi Correctional Facilty Leaves One Guard Dead And Others Injured – Contract Facilty Houses Federal Prisoners Including Illegal Immigrants

May 21, 2012

NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI – A prison guard was killed and several employees injured Sunday in a riot at the Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Mississippi, officials said.

The 23-year-old guard appeared to suffer “blunt trauma to the head,” said Adams County Coroner James Lee.

The riot, which began about 2:40 p.m., was still going on Sunday night, the facility’s operator said in a statement. Local and state law enforcement officials as well as authorities from the Federal Bureau of Prisons were helping the facility quell the violence.

“The disturbance is contained within the secure perimeter of the facility, with no threat to public safety,” the statement said.

Five employees and one inmate were taken to a hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries, while additional staff members were being treated at the prison.

Johar Lashin told CNN that he’d heard a lot of noise and commotion when he talked around 6 p.m. with his brother Jawad, an inmate at the Natchez facility serving time for aiding and abetting illegal immigrants. His brother said he was not participating in the riot, despite pressure from other inmates to do so.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Rusty Boyd, a spokesman with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said Sunday evening that 45 to 55 units from that state agency are helping corrections officers deal with the situation.

The facility is a 2,567-bed prison that houses adult men who are in the United States illegally and charged with crimes. It is owned by the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America.

Warden Vance Laughlin described the facility as quiet and with “few problems” in a March 2010 article in The Natchez Democrat, a few months after it opened to incarcerate illegal immigrants detained for mostly low-security crimes. At that point, it contained more than 2,000 inmates — more than two-thirds of whom were of Mexican descent, although scores of nationalities were then represented.

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Connecticut Prison Officals Want Inmates Who Masturbate To Be Labeled As Sex Offenders And Spend 5 More Years In Prison

April 28, 2012

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – Connecticut prison officials are asking for a new law that would label inmates who commit lewd acts in their cells as sex offenders.

Department officials say it’s an ongoing problem at prisons such as the high security Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, where some inmates purposefully masturbate in front of staff, often female guards, counselors or other prison workers.

“If they were on the outside and they did something like this, they would be arrested and held accountable as a sex offender,” said Brian Garnett, a department spokesman. “And frankly, the same thing should hold true on the inside.”

Lisamarie Fontano, president of AFSCME Local 387, which represents prison workers, says about 500 such instances were written up at Northern last year. She said the problem involves a relatively small group of inmates, and has very little to do with sex.

“It’s about power,” she said. “If you can demoralize somebody, and some of the acts that women have described to me are absolutely horrific, then by all means the inmates feel more powerful over them.”

The legislation would make public indecency in a correctional institution a class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a sentence that would be mandated to be tacked on to any current sentence. It also would designate the convict as a sex offender.

The bill would only apply to inmates who are deemed to be targeting staff with their activity, and would not be used when someone inadvertently walks in on an inmate in a private moment, Garnett said.

Garnett said it has proven difficult to charge inmates under current sexual assault statutes for behavior that happens in their cells.

Fontano said that internal discipline hasn’t deterred the behavior, but that inmates may stop if they know they will be labeled as a sex offender when they leave prison.

“This would be something that would be with them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “This isn’t something where you lose commissary privileges within the walls of the facility. Typically, a male prisoner does not want to be labeled as a sex offender.”

The bill has passed out of committee and is awaiting action by the full Legislature, which adjourns on May 9.

The move to pass legislation comes at the same time that the department is removing all pornography, material that contains “pictorial depictions of sexual activity or nudity,” from the prisons. Inmates were given a year to get rid of all their porn and the total ban takes effect in July.

The ban is intended to improve the work environment for prison staffers who might be inadvertently exposed to the material.

Garnett said the two issues are not related, but said both are expected to have a positive impact on the work environment in the prisons

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Prisoner Escaped From California State Prison At Sacramento

April 16, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Authorities are searching for an inmate who escaped from a Folsom prison last night and allegedly tried to steal a citizen’s vehicle.

Prisoner Marco Cabrera, convicted of assault with a firearm, turned up missing about 9 p.m. Sunday during a head count at the minimum support facility at California State Prison-Sacramento.

Folsom police said that even before they were informed of Cabrera’s escape, they got an emergency call at 9:19 p.m. Sunday reporting that someone, apparently Cabrera, had taken a vehicle in the 100 block of Esplanade Circle.

Esplanade Circle is in the Empire Ranch neighborhood not far from the prison. Dispatchers were told that the thief’s escape in the stolen vehicle was blocked by neighbors, causing the vehicle to crash into a water main.

The thief then got out of the vehicle and fled into a nearby wetlands area. A perimeter was established, but after two hours of combing the area, the search in the nature area was called off.

Folsom police said that 20 minutes after the initial report of the vehicle theft, they were told by prison officials of Cabrera’s escape from the minimum support facility, which is about three miles from Empire Ranch.

Police are convinced that Cabrera is the man who tried to take the vehicle.

Cabrera, 32, is described as Hispanic, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 200 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Police said he had a shaved head and was shirtless and wearing shorts when last seen.

The inmate was received from Tulare County last year to serve a 5-year sentence for assault with a firearm, transport/selling of marijuana, injury to a spouse, possession of an assault weapon, possession of a firearm by an ex-felon and possession of ammunition by an ex-felon.

CSP-Sacramento, sometimes called new Folsom Prison, houses about 2,800 imates.

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California Governor Jerry Brown Continues Dumping State Prisoners In County Jails, Where Many Are Released Before Serving All Of Their Sentences, As State Goes Broke Incarcerating Them

March 22, 2012

CALIFORNIA – Facing a budget crunch and pressure from the courts, California Gov. Jerry Brown is chipping away at the state’s tough-on-crime approach by shifting 33,000 felons out of the state’s prison system. Releasing prisoners early is rarely popular, so the governor came up with a new plan, coining it realignment.

“People who commit low-level offenses, or parole offenses, are now serving their time in the county jail instead of being sentenced to state prison,” explains California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Matt Cate. The state has transferred nearly 22,500 prisoners, or 15 percent of the inmate population, to the counties since last October.

The problem is, many of California’s county jails are already filled to capacity, and are having to release inmates well before their sentences have been served.

In Los Angeles, Lindsay Lohan served only four hours of a month-long sentence. Lesser known offenders, like James Lucio and Angel Espinoza, were re-arrested for committing more crimes just days after their release in Gilroy.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich doesn’t want those extra prisoners, and doesn’t mince words.

“The governor is nuts,” Antonovich says. “He has committed a political malpractice that’s going to threaten the safety economically, and the safety of every individual in this state, through this reckless policy and it ought to be repealed.”

Realignment supporters say that new methods of monitoring and rehabilitation will actually reduce crime from its current historical low, but it’s a strategy never tried on this scale before, and the state needs to shed another 15,000 inmates between now and next summer.

In exchange for taking on all those extra prisoners, California’s 58 counties are getting hundreds of millions of dollars from the state to pay for housing and rehabilitation. But the ACLU just released a report saying too much of that money is going toward rebuilding or expanding jail capacity, rather than on alternatives to incarceration.

Other critics are quick to call the governor ‘soft on crime’ and statistics show that during Brown’s first stint as governor 30 years ago, California’s violent crime rate soared 36 percent.

The governor’s realignment plan is just now being implemented, but bottom line is that, whatever it’s called, thousands of prisoners will be walking the street in the biggest shakeup of California’s criminal justice system in decades.

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Dumbass Arkansas State Prison Guard Hassled Convicted Murderer Over Shoes – Ended Up Dead

January 20, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – A convicted murderer stabbed a female guard to death at an east Arkansas prison Friday while she was investigating whether he had an unauthorized pair of shoes, a prison spokeswoman said.

Sgt. Barbara Ester, 47, was stabbed in the side, abdomen and chest at about 12:30 p.m., said Shea Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Correction. Ester died about 3 p.m. at a hospital in Memphis, Tenn., about 40 miles away.

Ester, a 12-year veteran of the correction department, was a property officer who investigated whether inmates had contraband items. Wilson said the guard had received a report that Johnson had a pair of contraband shoes.

“This is obviously very difficult for the department when something tragic like this happens,” Wilson said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Sgt. Ester’s family. These officers — it’s a tight-knit workplace. They look out for each other and are there together for a lot of hours of the day, so this is very difficult for everyone.”

Wilson said the prison was locked down after the attack and that the inmate, Latavious Johnson, was being moved to the state’s maximum-security unit at Varner. She said all the other inmates have been accounted for.

Johnson, 30, was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder out of Jefferson County. He was sentenced in 2000 for killing his father. Prosecutors said Johnson was 18 at the time of the crime.

Wilson said Johnson had had several disciplinary infractions, including one this week for not obeying orders, but hadn’t previously attacked a guard.

“We will move him to the supermax (prison) so he will be out of that environment … He needed to be out of that environment,” Wilson said.

Arkansas State Police and the prison’s internal affairs staff were investigating the stabbing. Wilson said authorities would turn over their information to prosecutors, who will determine whether to file charges against the inmate.

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Former Bergin Correctional Institution Deputy Warden Neal Kearney Sentenced To 30 Months In Connecticut Prison After Sexually Abusing A Male Inmate For Years

October 9, 2011

VERNON, CONNECTICUT –  A former deputy warden at a Connecticut prison has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for sexually assaulting an inmate in 2008.

Fifty-year-old Neal Kearney of Bloomfield, who also was once the cheerleading coach at the University of Connecticut, had pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree sexual assault last month.

The inmate told police that Kearney abused him for years at the Bergin Correctional Institution in Mansfield and coerced him into having sex after he was released from prison. Officials say the inmate had hidden evidence in the case in the prison, included a rubber glove containing Kearney’s DNA.

Kearney also was ordered to register as a sex offender after he is released.

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8 Pennsylvania Prison Guards Suspended Admid Investigation Into Secret Vigilante Group That Targeted Imprisoned Sex Offenders

May 4, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – Sources tell KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin eight prison guards who’ve been suspended from Western Penitentiary made up a secret vigilante group that dished out their own form of justice on convicted sex offenders.

Sources tell Griffin an Allegheny County grand jury is investigating a small group of corrections officers.

The officers are described as vigilantes who sought out Megan’s Law offenders and participated in a series of attacks against inmates – described as assaults – including the possible sexual assault of inmates using broom handles.

“No one wants to believe that that could happen,” Civil Rights attorney Tim O’Brien said. “So we don’t know what happened in this particular case. There are allegations. Those kinds of allegations unfortunately have been made before in other places and have been proven to be true.”

Sources indicate the grand jury investigation just started. Interviews with possible victims and corrections officers could take months. If there are charges, it could be June or July before they are filed.

Meantime, if true, O’Brien sees clear civil rights violations.

“The Eighth Amendment says a bar against cruel and unusual punishment. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits arbitrary and conscious shocking behavior.

“If the allegations are true as reported, then both of those constitutional amendments are violated,” he said.

Sources close to this investigation are outraged by the allegations saying, “It’s disgusting that corrections officers are accused of committing the same crimes that inmates here are serving time for.”

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Former Pennsylvania Highway Patrol Officer Drexel Reid Sentenced To 30 Months In Federal Prison For $400,000 Insurance Fraud Scheme

April 26, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued the following news release:

Drexel Reid, 39, of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for an insurance fraud scheme that cost insurance companies more than $450,000, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Reid pleaded guilty on June 22, 2009, to eleven counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of extortion under color of official right.

Reid was a Philadelphia Highway Patrol Officer at the time of the scheme. Between August 2003 and May 2007, Reid’s co-defendant, tow truck driver Jerry Blassengale, Jr., solicited people to be involved in staged or completely fictitious accidents and fictitious vandalism claims for purposes of submitting fraudulent insurance claims. Reid would create false police reports to send to insurance companies for which Blassengale paid him. Blassengale staged a total of 11 phony events for which claims were sent to the respective insurance companies.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Michael M. Baylson ordered Reid to pay restitution in the amount of $211,709.22, a $1,300 special assessment, and to complete three years of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Insurance Fraud Unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony J. Wzorek.

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Former Laredo Texas Police Officer Orlando Jesus Hale Sentenced To Almost 25 Years In Federal Prison For Protecting Drug Shipments

April 26, 2011

LAREDO, TEXAS – A South Texas police officer convicted of conspiring to safely escort loads of smuggled cocaine through Laredo is going to prison.

A federal judge on Monday sentenced 28-year-old former Laredo Officer Orlando Jesus Hale to nearly 25 years behind bars.

A jury in September convicted Hale of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, plus using a firearm to further drug trafficking, over 2008 crimes.

Investigators say Hale was nabbed in an undercover investigation involving his personal vehicle and a police-issued radio to monitor traffic to guide and protect loads of cocaine.

Hale resigned from the police force following his conviction.

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Fired Shreveport Louisiana Police Officer Morgan King Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison For Perjury

April 25, 2011

SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA – A Shreveport police officer fired for running away from a situation where fellow officers had to shoot an armed man was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for lying on the witness stand about his actions.

Caddo prosecutors, who obtained a perjury conviction against Morgan King, said the false testimony was part of King’s efforts to make his actions look better and enhance his chances of getting his job back.

Caddo District Judge Mike Pitman imposed sentence Monday morning and ordered King immediately taken into custody. He set bond at $100,000 if King wants to appeal his sentence.

King was fired over his actions that night. Video from the police car of an officer involved in the May 2006 shooting shows King delay arriving at the scene, then walk by the wounded man and the two fellow officers before running back to his patrol car and leaving.

Raymond Darnell was shot by police after he shot and wounded his girlfriend in front of officer. They in turn shot him.

The false testimony came during a hearing in which Darnell, who was convicted of attempted murder, sought a new trial, Assistant District Attorney Brady O’Callaghan said.

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California’s Incarcerated Criminal Illegal Aliens Jumps 17 Percent To 102,795 – States Spend $1.1 Billion Per Year To Lock Them Up

April 21, 2011

CALIFORNIA – The number of criminal aliens incarcerated in California rose to 102,795 in 2009, a 17 percent increase since 2003, federal auditors reported Thursday.

This isn’t cheap. Nationwide, the Government Accountability Office reports, it costs well over $1.1 billion a year for states to imprison criminal aliens — those who committed a crime after entering the United States illegally. California, moreover, is more expensive than other states. GAO auditors estimated California spends $34,000 to incarcerate a criminal alien for one year; in Texas, it’s only $12,000.

The audit, requested by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, will provide ammunition for states’ perennial effort to secure more federal reimbursement dollars.

More than one in four of the illegal immigrants imprisoned in California are behind bars for drug offenses. Many are also repeat offenders. GAO auditors say that, based on a survey, criminal alien inmates have been arrested an average of seven different times.

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Former Vernon Connecticut Police Officer John Troland Arrested For Second Time In Recent Months After His Release From Prison

March 26, 2011

WATERFORD, CONNECTICUT – A former police officer who served 18 months in prison for sharing confidential information about investigations with the targets of those investigations was charged Wednesday with violating the terms of his probation.

John Troland, 35, has been arrested twice by the Waterford police department in recent months. He was charged in connection with a domestic disturbance in January and for fifth-degree larceny in February. People on probation can face a violation of probation charge if they are arrested for another crime.

Troland turned himself in Wednesday afternoon at Vernon police headquarters and was released after posting $25,000 bail.

Waterford police charged Troland with fifth-degree larceny Feb. 2 after he allegedly stole shrubbery. He was released on $25,000 bail. He was arrested Jan. 31 on charges of disorderly conduct and criminal violation of a restraining order. He posted $5,000 bail. Both cases are pending in Superior Court in New London.

Troland was a Vernon officer for seven years. He resigned his position after his arrest in July 2005. He pleaded guilty in September 2006 to one count of interfering with an officer and computer crime. The charges Troland faced were reduced as part of a plea agreement.

At the time of Troland’s guilty plea, Tolland State’s Attorney Matthew Gedansky said it was lucky that no narcotics investigators or informants who aided them were injured as a result of Troland’s conduct.

Troland disclosed the identities of narcotics officers and informants to his then-girlfriend, Sherri Lane-Cheema. Lane-Cheema and her relatives then shared the information with the targets of narcotic investigations on at least seven occasions, Gedansky said.

Troland also illegally used a law enforcement database to check on people, including potential girlfriends and former boyfriends of Lane-Cheema, police said.

Vernon police investigated and built the case against Troland.

In sentencing Troland, Rockville Superior Court Judge Terence A. Sullivan told Troland he should have known that people involved with drugs have a capacity for violence and that the information he disclosed could have resulted in the killing of a colleague or informant.

“You placed some of your fellow officers in unnecessary danger because of that,” Sullivan said. He also gave the Vernon police department a black eye, the judge said.

Troland said at his sentencing that he made bad decisions, but said he did not share confidential information with Lane-Cheema. Instead, he suggested, she overheard things “and put two and two together.”

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Innocent Man Imprisoned For 17 Years By Houston County Texas After False ID By 14 Year Old Rape Victim

March 2, 2011

HOUSTON, TEXAS – Houston prosecutors are asking a court to formally exonerate a Texas man after DNA tests ruled out his guilt in a rape for which he served 17 years in prison.

George Rodriguez was freed in 2004 after an appeals court found that faulty scientific evidence had been used against him in his 1987 trial. Prosecutors didn’t retry him, citing concerns about having the victim — who had identified Rodriguez as one of her two attackers in a police lineup — testify again.

State officials had denied his request for a pardon, but Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos agreed to review his case after she took office in 2009. New DNA tests on the forensic evidence in the case came back February 22 and conclusively ruled out Rodriguez, now 50, Lykos said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“When this scientific inquiry began, there was no legal requirement or mandate for any further work to be done by our office, because the case had been dismissed,” Lykos said. “Instead, we acted on the most important obligation of all — to see that the truth emerges, and that justice is done. Today, we can state that an innocent man has been vindicated.”

The Harris County District Attorney’s office will ask a judge to formally declare Rodriguez innocent at a Thursday hearing, she said.

Lykos, a Republican, campaigned on promises to reform the prosecutor’s office in Texas’ largest city, and she has drawn praise from defense lawyers for creating a post-conviction review process to examine new evidence. The Innocence Project, which won Rodriguez’s release in 2004, gave her an award in 2010 for that program.

Another man, Manuel Beltran, is now serving a 60-year prison term in connection for rape. The DNA testing also confirmed that another man, now dead but long considered an alternative suspect, also assaulted the victim, who was 14 at the time.

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Australian Police Officer Benjamin Price Sentenced To Prison After Brutally Beating Handcuffed Man, Ramming Firehose Down His Throat – Also Beat Two Others, Including A Banker

October 11, 2010

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA – A POLICEMAN who rammed a fire hose down a handcuffed man’s throat during a brutal bashing in a police station has been jailed.

Former Senior Constable Benjamin Price, 34, was today sentenced to 27 months prison by Townsville District Court judge Stuart Durward but will be eligible for parole next July.

Price was sentenced after pleading guilty to four counts of assault against three victims in Airlie Beach, in north Queensland in 2007 and 2008.

In sentencing Mr Durward described Price as a “thug” and his actions as “cowardly and contemptible”.

“Your conduct was gratuitously violent,” he told Price, who looked pale when the sentence was announced.

Price’s teenage daughter wept when he was led away.

One of Price’s victims, Timothy Steele said he was stunned the case ever saw the light of day.

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He said as an ex-policeman Price “will do it hard in jail, and that’s good.”

Price’s actions only came to light when Price was reported by female police whistleblower constable Bree Sonter and forced to resign amid an internal affairs investigation.

In CCTV footage shown in court last week, Price can be seen punching and kneeing a bleeding, handcuffed Timothy Steele, 23 at the time, in May 25, 2008.

Price puts him in a brutal spine lock and leaves the commercial diver with a broken nose and two blackened eyes, cuts and bruising to the face.

Other police officers watch on – but none intervene – as Price stuffs a running fire hose into his victim’s mouth, nearly drowning him in a five minute ordeal, before Mr Steele slumps forward unmoving.

In another incident captured on camera, petite barmaid Renee Toms, 21 at the time, also handcuffed, was hit in the neck, flung about by the hair, and slammed to the floor inside the watchhouse by Price on January 2008.

Two female officers watch on, but again, do not stop the assault.

His third victim, investment banker Nicholas Le Fevre, of Sydney, was king-hit and repeatedly punched in the head by Price after arguing over urinating in a park while on holiday in Airlie Beach.

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DNA Tests Free Two Innocent Men Imprisoned For 30 Years – A Third Died In Prison

September 16, 2010

HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPI – A judge in Hattiesburg, Mississippi today threw out the guilty pleas of two men who had spent three decades in prison for rape and murder after DNA tests showed they were innocent. The decision comes too late, however, for a third man who died in prison eight years ago.

Bobby Dixon, Phillip Bivens and Larry Ruffin were sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of Eva Gail Patterson of Hattiesburg in 1979. Larry Ruffin died behind bars in 2002.

The Innocence Project filed a petition in July on behalf of Dixon and Bivens and a separate petition on behalf of Ruffin just yesterday. The advocacy group had lobbied for new DNA tests of the evidence from the 1979 rape, and tests showed that the DNA matched that of another man Andrew Harris, who is currently serving a life sentence in a Mississippi prison for a 1981 rape.

Bobby Dixon was released from prison last month in order to undergo treatment for terminal cancer, but Bivens, now 59, remained behind bars. He attended the hearing in his prison jumpsuit before being set free by the judge’s ruling.

“It was a good result in a tragic situation,” said Emily Maw, director of the Innocence Project New Orleans and lawyer for Dixon, Bivens and the Ruffin family. “This is a particularly sad case. Another man committed the crime and then let these men sit in prison for 30 years. We hope it will have an impact on how we look at confessions and guilty pleas.”

Dixon and Bivens had pleaded guilty in 1980 to the crime and claimed that Ruffin was the rapist. Dixon claimed in an interview with the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that he fingered Ruffin after police beat him. Ruffin insisted on taking his case to trial continued to maintain his innocence until his death in a prison accident.

Judge Robert Helfrich said he did not rule on Ruffin’s petition because it was received Wednesday and he had not had time to review it. Maw said that she expects the petition for Ruffin’s posthumous exoneration will not be taken up until a grand jury has decided whether to charge Andrew Harris with Patterson’s rape and murder.

The results of the DNA test make Ruffin the second inmate to have been exonerated posthumously by DNA testing. In 2009, DNA tests showed that Texas inmate Tim Cole did not commit the 1985 rape for which he was serving time. Cole died in prison in 1999.

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New Jersey Department Of Corrections Holds “Family Day” At Sex Offender Prison – Where Of Course A Little Girl Was Molested By A Prisoner…

August 24, 2010

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY – The Department of Corrections is overhauling prison family programs in response to accusations a sex offender was able to inappropriately touch a 9-year-old girl during an event behind prison walls.

In addition, at least one corrections officer is facing disciplinary charges in connection with the incident, according to two state officials with knowledge of the case.

Family events were previously held like picnics where inmates and visiting relatives were able to mingle. But future programs will be heavily regimented and better supervised, Corrections spokesman Matt Schuman said.

“It won’t be as loosely run as it might have been,” he said.

However, Schuman said children will still be allowed to attend, sparking another round of criticism from a prison union leader.

The department launched its internal review of family programs following a Star-Ledger inquiry into the June 16 “family day” event at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center, a specialized prison for sex offenders in Avenel.

The annual program was attended by 210 inmates and 534 relatives, 116 of them children. Corrections officials said 30 officers provided supervision. During the event, convicted sex offender Claudio Gonzalez, 23, allegedly touched the 9-year-old niece of another inmate, documents obtained by The Star-Ledger show.

Gonzalez later told investigators he only “accidentally brushed” her breast while walking with the girl.

Investigators filed disciplinary charges of unauthorized physical contact and assault against Gonzalez, documents show. He is currently incarcerated at Northern State Prison, and one state official said he’s being held in administrative segregation for bad behavior.

The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office did not respond to questions on whether Gonzalez, who pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl in 2006, is facing criminal charges.

During family day Gonzalez did not have any visitors but was allowed to attend, according to a disciplinary report. That’s a violation of Corrections rules, Schuman said.

The department’s internal inquiry has led to disciplinary charges against at least one officer at the prison, according to two officials who were not authorized to discuss the investigation on the record.

Trent Norman, president of Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 105, which represents prison officers, said the union is planning to appeal the charges. Schuman declined to discuss disciplinary matters.

Corrections officials said family days help inmates stay connected with relatives, increasing their chance of success once they’re released. But they said events need to be re-focused on programmed activities geared toward preparing inmates to return to society.

At future events, Schuman said, staff members will show videos and answer questions about programs available to help inmates reintegrate into society. He also said security will be tighter.

“They want to restrict movements and keep everything in front of custody staff,” he said.

Children will still be able to attend, although Schuman said visitors will be asked to always keep their children close.

“If it’s going to be family day, they want to have children there,” he said. “But they want to make sure there’s adult supervision at all times.”

Jim McGonigal, president of the New Jersey Law Enforcement Supervisors Association, which represents sergeants, said the changes are good but insufficient.

“As a parent, I cannot fathom bringing a child into that atmosphere,” he said.

Schuman said family days are currently scheduled at East Jersey State Prison, also in Avenel, for September and October. More are planned at Southern State Prison in Bridgeton but dates have not been set.

The Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center is still allowed to have family events but none have been scheduled, Schuman said.

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100’s Of Millions Of US Taxpayer Dollars Wasted On Bush’s Tortue Prisons And Guantanamo Bay Base

June 6, 2010

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — At the U.S. naval station here, a handsome electronic sign hangs between two concrete pillars. In yellow enamel against a blue metal backdrop is a map of Cuba, the “Pearl of the Antilles,” above flashing time and temperature readings.

“Welcome Aboard,” the sign says.

The cost of the marquee, along with a smaller sign positioned near the airfield: $188,000. Among other odd legacies from war-on-terror spending since 2001 for the troops at Guantanamo Bay: an abandoned volleyball court for $249,000, an unused go-kart track for $296,000 and $3.5 million for 27 playgrounds that are often vacant.

The Pentagon also spent $683,000 to renovate a cafe that sells ice cream and Starbucks coffee, and $773,000 to remodel a cinder-block building to house a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant.

The spending is part of at least $500 million that has transformed what was once a sun-beaten and forgotten Caribbean base into one of the most secure military and prison installations in the world. That does not include construction bonuses, which typically run into the millions.

Also not included are annual operating costs of $150 million — double the amount for a comparable U.S. prison, according to the White House. Add in clandestine black-budget items, such as the top-secret Camp 7 prison for high-value detainees, aptly nicknamed Camp Platinum, and the post-Sept. 11, 2001, bill for the 45-square-mile base easily soars toward $2 billion.

The Obama administration wants to close the detention operation and relocate it to a prison in Illinois, but the prospect of seeing the final detainees depart seems increasingly like a long-term project. If the president does succeed, the Pentagon will leave behind a newly remodeled military encampment, along with numerous questions about whether the cost of creating what then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld once called the “least worst place” for suspected terrorists was worth the price.

In the first public accounting of how much has been spent on the base since the first detainees arrived in January 2002, The Washington Post obtained from the military a line-by-line breakdown of capital expenditures, ranging from the mundane to the exotic.

Overall, the prison camp operation that hugs the Caribbean coastline cost about $220 million to build over several years, a price that does not include Camp 7, which holds 16 of the most notorious detainees, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. And $13 million was spent to construct a courthouse complex that appears custom-designed for Mohammed and his four co-defendants.

But as spending accelerated over the years, and more and more construction and renovation contracts were awarded, the number of detainees steadily declined, from a peak of 680 in May 2003 to 181 now.

Many of the projects itemized in the breakdown are reminders of suburban America — familiar settings re-created in a Caribbean hothouse to comfort the military personnel and contractors who run detainee operations.

Millions went to build artificial-turf football and baseball fields that professional players would envy, surrounded by a cluster of facilities, including a running track, a skate park, an outdoor roller hockey rink and batting cages.

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Gouverneur Correctional Facility New York Employee Lisa Vaughn Pleads Guilty After Sex With Inmate – Expected To Receive A Slap On The Wrist

April 13, 2009

ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, NEW YORK – The former laundry supervisor at Gouverneur Correctional Facility admits to having sex with an inmate.

In St. Lawrence County Court on Monday, 42 year old Lisa Vaughn pleaded guilty to 3rd degree rape, a class E felony. She’s expected to get a sentence of probation when she’s sentenced in May.

The charge was rape because prison inmates are, by law, incapable of consensual sex.

Authorities said Vaughn, of Carthage, seduced a male inmate and eventually had sex with at least four male inmates between 2006 and her arrest last year.

The ensuing investigation also led to the arrests of 32 year old Rachael Paterson of Ogdensburg for allegedly having oral sex with inmates; and 38 year old Laura Douglass, for alleged sex with an inmate and with passing prison contraband.

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