Warden in Pa. prison inmate beating case resigns

Thanks to Scott Binsack for the shout out & heads up….check his blog out!



Associated Press

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) – A warden resigned Wednesday from a northeastern Pennsylvania lockup where a prisoner was beaten and stomped by another inmate last summer, while three prison guards and a supervisor who were on duty during the attack face discipline.

The Lackawanna County Prison Board met behind closed doors with Warden Janine Donate, then announced her resignation. The board also announced that due process hearings will be scheduled for guards Jason Talutto, Robert Jesso and Michael Mallick, and for Lt. Nancy Carroll.

The hearings are a prelude to possible disciplinary action.

Board solicitor David Solfanelli confirmed the hearings involve the Aug. 8 attack on Nicholas Pinto, an inmate at the prison in Scranton.

Donate, who became warden in 2005, could not be reached Wednesday at the prison. A man who answered the phone at her home said she was out.

Pinto, 29, was awaiting sentencing on a federal child pornography charge when he was ambushed by an inmate with a history of violence. Inmate Michael Simonson knocked Pinto to the floor and stomped on his head at least 15 times “with all his might,” according to a police report. His face was shattered, and he suffered brain injuries that left him comatose.

Pinto’s attorney, Patrick Rogan, said Wednesday that Pinto recently emerged from the coma and is communicating with his parents, though he suffers from “permanent neurological injury.”

After the beating, Simonson returned to his cell and used a cloth to wipe evidence from his sneakers, according to a police affidavit.

Pinto was being kept in protective custody at the time of the attack. Simonson, classified as a dangerous “administrative custody” inmate, was supposed to be locked in his cell as Pinto returned to the block from a recreation area, but was not.

Rogan, who is preparing a federal lawsuit against the county, applauded Donate’s resignation but said the problems are “more widespread than four individuals and the warden.”

Pinto claimed in his diary that he endured months of physical, sexual and mental abuse in prison.

Matt Balas, the guards’ union representative, declined comment on the actions of the guards but said the union has the option of filing a grievance if it believes they are being disciplined without just cause.

“I don’t know all the facts concerning our members. I know mistakes were made by prison management,” he said. “We had a labor-management meeting 10 days before this incident and we warned them about this exact situation. We warned them there was the potential for something to happen.”

Source: WTOP


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