SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California prison guard killed himself following reporting corruption and harassment to authorities and cooperating with attorneys suing the state, a newspaper documented Wednesday.
Sgt. Kevin Steele, 56, wrote memos to top rated jail officers early this 12 months in which he claimed fellow correctional officers in his California Condition Prison, Sacramento, investigations unit had faked files and planted medications and weapons on inmates.
Two lawyers informed The Sacramento Bee that Steele had also been doing work with them on conditions exactly where he alleged proof had been falsified or included up.
He was located lifeless Aug. 20, in Miller County, Missouri, wherever he had long gone right after staying barred from jail grounds for the duration of what jail officers say was a misconduct investigation. The county coroner ruled his demise a suicide.
A 2nd member of the identical investigations device who also complained of harassment and retaliation, 30-year-old Valentino Rodriguez, died of an accidental fentanyl overdose at his residence in West Sacramento a calendar year back.
The whole unit — tasked with investigating crimes dedicated within the prison — has been replaced, and 10 of its officers are going through self-control relating to Rodriguez’s demise, corrections department spokeswoman Dana Simas told the newspaper.
Jail personnel are facing investigations by the two the FBI and the corrections department.
“We do take every single allegation of misconduct by team very very seriously, and work difficult to be certain there is accountability when allegations are sustained,” Simas explained in an e mail to The Bee.
John Balazs, an legal professional for a white supremacist jail gang member struggling with federal costs, claimed Steele was his confidential supply for statements in court documents he filed alleging his shopper may perhaps be killed in the greatest security jail usually identified as New Folsom.
The supply he now identifies as Steele suggested that “rogue” guards planted weapons and drugs in inmates’ cells to attain a lot more additional time, spread wrong rumors and relayed non-public details from inmates’ data files to other inmates in violation of office policy, “and on at minimum two instances have been directly associated in the killing of a CSP-Sacramento inmate,” Balazs explained in his court docket submitting.
He alleged that guards permitted inmates to conduct a “observe operate” a 7 days before two inmates killed a fellow prisoner who was handcuffed to a chair, citing a source he now states was Steele.
In a January memo to jail Warden Jeffrey Lynch obtained by The Bee, Steele said he alerted his supervisors to “inconsistencies” regarding that slaying, backed up with recorded interviews.
The newspaper previously noted that prosecutors explained the confidential supply was interviewed by the FBI and did not have immediate knowledge of wrongdoing but was relying on a report and other evidence such as a video.
Steele alleged in a February memo to Corrections Secretary Kathleen Allison that jail officials had responded with “indifference” to his experiences of wrongdoing and to the “victimization” of Rodriguez.
“I am NOT a disgruntled staff seeking vengeance,” Steele wrote to Allison. “Instead, I was a witness to an ISU (Investigative Solutions Unit) which became engulfed in corruption and viewed as integrity was forced to cower in terror and worry of retaliation!”
Balazs mentioned Steele also advised him that allegations are wrong that his shopper, Aryan Brotherhood member Brant Daniel, planned to eliminate a correctional officer with a selfmade knife that was found in his cell.
A 2nd lawyer, Steve Glickman, explained to The Bee that Steele informed him that evidence had been suppressed in the loss of life of a 29-year-aged inmate discovered useless in his cell.
Corrections officers said he hanged himself by yourself in his cell in 2016, leaving behind a suicide be aware, and Glickman filed a wrongful demise lawsuit on behalf of the inmate’s relatives.
But Steele said yet another inmate experienced confessed on video and in producing to the slaying, but that the confessions had disappeared. Glickman explained Steele straight away educated the jail warden and experienced been set to testify publicly when he died.
“At every solitary juncture in which I discovered one thing that resembled corruption, wrongdoing, exploitation, fraudulency and/or breeches of rely on, I Always alerted supervisory workers and institutional management, as that is what I assumed was the desire of equally the administrative staff members and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” Steele said in his January memo to the prison’s warden. “However, it would appear that is NOT the desire of either entity.”
He claimed in the memo that Rodriguez informed him some of their fellow officers ended up planting medicine and weapons on inmates late in the afternoons “in an effort and hard work to have to operate time beyond regulation several hours to end the experiences.”
A yr back, federal prosecutors billed two former correctional officers with faking reviews in the loss of life of a 65-12 months-previous New Folsom inmate.
Ashley Marie Aurich pleaded responsible in January to lying in her account of how a further correctional officer yanked the legs from under the handcuffed inmate in 2016. The two guards were escorting the prisoner, who struck his head on the concrete and died at a healthcare facility two days later on.
Both of those were being dismissed from their careers in 2018.
The second former officer, Arturo Pacheco, faces two federal expenses of deprivation of legal rights below color of law and two counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation.