An explosive investigation by The New York Times has revealed the existence of a secret account used by agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) to dispense millions of untraceable private dollars to informants and agents for over seven years. The story reads like something straight out of Hollywood. In 2006,…

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By Christopher Zoukis Lucky 8 TV is a production company that produces “Behind Bars: Rookie Year” – a reality show about first-time prison guards – and thus requires access to a prison for filming. What better way to gain access than to hire someone from the corrections department to help facilitate such arrangements? A recent…

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The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center have joined to file a federal civil rights and anti-racketeering class-action lawsuit which claims a Louisiana district judge, the East Baton Rouge sheriff, and a firm that monitors criminal defendants released on bail while awaiting trial acted together to force defendants to pay hundreds…

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By Christopher Zoukis The Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Richard Roberts, 63, unexpectedly stepped down on March 16, 2016. Although the official reason for his departure was listed as an undisclosed disability, Judge Roberts’ early retirement came the same week a lawsuit was filed accusing him of sexually…

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The escapes and ultimate death and capture of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat, respectively, were supposed to have prompted a clean-up in the Clinton Correctional Facility. There were suspensions, leaves, and retirements aplenty as myriad failures in prison protocol were revealed. The FBI also launched an investigation into the facility’s operations over accusations of…

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By Christopher Zoukis

In September 2010, following an eight-day jury trial, former Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond Martin was convicted of 15 criminal counts concerning the distribution of marijuana, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and attempting to have two witnesses killed.  In January 2011, he was sentenced to two life sentences, plus 10 years to be served consecutively in federal prison.

Mr. Martin appealed the sentences to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the sentence was unreasonable.  In August 2012, the court affirmed the convictions, but vacated the sentences due to a sentencing guidelines calculation error.  The case was remanded back to the district court for resentencing.

While awaiting resentencing, Mr. Martin allegedly was caught in possession of, and attempting to smuggle, prescription medications into the Williamson County Jail, where he was being held pending his resentencing.  Evidently, his crime spree was not yet complete.

With the new information at hand concerning the attempted smuggling and possession of prescription medications, a new sentence was imposed in conjunction with the remand from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Mr. Martin was again sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, plus an additional consecutive term of 10 years in prison.  He was further ordered to forfeit $76,090 and his residence.

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By Christopher Zoukis

A former Pennsylvania prison guard who was convicted on 27 counts of abusing prisoners will serve no prison time of his own, after a state court sentenced him to five years’ probation and six months on house arrest.

Harry Nicoletti, 61, was convicted of numerous counts of official oppression, simple assault, criminal solicitation and terrorist threats, as well as three counts of indecent exposure. He was acquitted of more serious charges of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and institutional sexual assault.

The jury reached its verdict after deliberating three days following an 11-day trial that included 58 witnesses, some of them prisoners who recanted their earlier statements against Nicoletti. Charges against four other prison guards had previously been dropped.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge David Cashman could have sentenced Nicoletti to up to 18 months in prison, but instead told him, “I’m sparing you from the danger you posed to the individuals you were in charge of.”

Nicoletti was originally indicted on 117 criminal charges following his arrest in September 2011. He was accused of being the ringleader of a group of six guards at SCI Pittsburgh who targeted sex offenders and homosexual prisoners for abuse that included sexual assaults, beatings, tainting food with urine and feces, and other mistreatment. [See: PLN, Nov. 2012, p.40; April 2012, p.1]. “It was evil for evil’s sake,” said Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Jon Pittman at Nicoletti’s March 27, 2013 sentencing hearing.

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