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Abraxas I Youth and Family Services Center, Marienville, Pennsylvania
February 22, 2008 The Derrick
Two Philadelphia men were charged for their actions during separate riots that broke out this week at Cornell Abraxas I in Marienville. State police said Joseph Clark, 18, and Lenny Scott Cabrera, 18, were involved in both riots that occurred at the facility Monday and Tuesday. Clark was charged with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of riot, police said. They said Cabrera was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of riot. Both men were arraigned before District Judge George F. Gregory in Tionesta. They were placed in the Warren County jail on $25,000 bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Tuesday. Police said three juveniles involved in both riots and five other involved in the Monday riot will face similar charges.

January 11, 2007 The Courier Express
In a last-ditch effort to forestall a strike, representatives of Abraxas I and members of PSSU Local 668 have agreed to meet Friday, according to a press release issued by Abraxas Wednesday. Abraxas I is planning to operate through any strike with qualified employees from other facilities and all employees who want to continue to work, according to the press release. "Any employee who wishes to work may do so at the current wages, benefits and other terms or conditions of employment," the release said. "Abraxas I will not implement its final offer until an agreement is reached." Abraxas I has informed its client-referring agencies about the strike and the company's plans to operate in the interim. It has also decided to stop admitting new residents and plans to accelerate the discharge of residents who are approved for discharge by the courts, said the press release. On Jan. 3, Abraxas Youth and Family Services received notification that the members of SEIU Local 668 rejected the company's offer of Dec. 21. Local 668 also issued a 10-day strike notice, which indicates it plans to strike at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. James Newsome, program director at Abraxas I, said, "We are very disappointed that the union and its members rejected this offer. It was a very fair offer given the economic realities of the Youth and Family Services business. "Our most recent offer includes wage increases ranging from 8.5 percent to 12.25 percent over the proposed three-year agreement," he said. "While we propose increases in employee contributions for medical benefits, our wage proposal also ensures that all employees would receive a real wage increase to offset the increased employee medical contribution. Our request for increased employee medical contributions is consistent with what many unions and employers have agreed to in the face of rising costs of health care." Abraxas I proposes maintaining an HMO medical plan for current employees, but employees hired after ratification would only be able to participate in a PPO plan. Newsome said the HMO plan is a very expensive benefit. "The only way we can continue to afford to provide the HMO is to make it available for current employees only," he said. "The union recognized the fairness of our economic proposals, because they told us that if we were willing to agree to a union shop or fair share - union security - they would recommend ratification. We refused to agree to a union shop or fair share because we believe employees should have a right to decide for themselves whether they wish to belong to the union and pay union dues, not be forced to do so," Newsome said. Abraxas I houses approximately 274 adolescents and provides drug and alcohol counseling, as well as operating a private school, for its residents.

Abraxas Center, Forest, Pennsylvania
 July 8, 2004 Morning Call
A Tamaqua 16-year-old, who was committed to a juvenile center after being charged with shooting a friend in the face with a gun he stole from a borough pawn shop, escaped after attending a funeral Wednesday, police said.  Duane R. Allen II was court-ordered to attend the funeral and told two workers taking him back to the Cornell Abraxas center in Marienville, Forest County, that he was sick, state police at Hazleton said.  The workers stopped about 2:30 p.m. at Pilot Truck Stop in Sugarloaf Township, Luzerne County, where Allen fled from the worker accompanying him to the restroom, police said. 

Abraxas Ohio, Shelby, Ohio
August 4, 2010 Mansfield News Journal
A judge modified bond Tuesday for a former youth counselor at a Shelby residential treatment center who is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl. Randy Scott, 35, of Mifflin Township, had been held on a $500,000 cash bond after his May arrest. Last week, Richland County Common Pleas Judge James Henson granted a defense request to reduce the bond to $10,000 with 10 percent posting allowed. The state objected and requested Tuesday's hearing. Following testimony from two witnesses, Henson rescinded the previous bond. The new terms are $100,000 with 10 percent posting. If Scott posts bond, he will be monitored electronically and cannot have contact with the alleged victim. Scott is charged with four counts of rape, four counts of sexual battery, four counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of kidnapping with a sexual motivation specification. The alleged victim was not a resident at Abraxas, a residential program for males ages 12 to 18. Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch-Page wanted Henson to reconsider his previous decision to reduce Scott's bond. "The defendant cannot control himself sexually around minors," she said. Couch-Page called sheriff's deputy Pat Smith as a witness. Smith said there are two pending investigations against Scott. The more recent case involved alleged sexual conduct between Scott and a 16-year-old Abraxas boy. Scott has been fired, said Charles Seigel, a vice president for Cornell Companies, which operates Abraxas. The older case involved Scott's alleged sexual conduct with three females -- ages 13, 14 and 18 -- while he worked at Foundations for Living, a residential treatment facility on Ohio 39 South.

May 11, 2010 Mansfield News Journal
A youth counselor at a Shelby residential treatment center was arrested and charged with the rape of a 16-year-old, officials said Monday. Randy Lamont Scott, 35, of Mifflin Township, is incarcerated at the Richland County Jail on $500,000 bond after pleading not guilty Friday morning to a single count of rape, a first-degree felony. A spokesman for Abraxas, the Shelby youth rehab center where Scott worked, said he was placed on nonadministrative, unpaid leave last week. The child, who is not part of the Abraxas program, has received a medical exam and counseling, according to Carl Hunnell, a Children Services spokesman. "We were notified on May 5, at 5:34 p.m., on the allegations," Hunnell said. "We're working with the sheriff's department on the investigation of the victim due to the age." Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Pat Smith declined to say much about Scott, citing the ongoing investigation, but alluded to a "period of abuse." Scott was a "life skills worker" at Abraxas and was responsible for leading group sessions and supervising group activities on weekends, said Charles Seigel, a vice president for Cornell Companies, which operates Abraxas. Scott had worked at the facility for less than two years and passed a background check and drug tests, which Seigel said were routine for incoming employees. While he has not been fired, Seigel said the company likely wouldn't wait for the legal case to be resolved. "Anything that would be a felony would be pretty much automatic," Seigel said. "We'll take a look at the situation." The Shelby facility's 108-bed residential program, "incorporates an intensive group curriculum focusing on decision-making, goal-setting, self-esteem, sex education and relapse process/prevention," according to the company's website.

Alaska Legislature
January 29, 2011 Anchorage Daily News
Former Alaska halfway house mogul Bill Weimar, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and financial wrongdoing in Alaska's political corruption scandal, is being sought by Florida authorities on a charge of child sexual battery. According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, an arrest warrant was issued for Weimar, 70, on Monday. The alleged victim was under 12 years old, according to warrant information posted on the sheriff's website. The sheriff's office gave Weimar's last known address as a boat slip at the prestigious Marina Jack's in Sarasota harbor. A spokesman for the Sarasota Police Department, Capt. Paul Sutton, said Friday that reports of Weimar living on a boat in a marina turned out to not be true. A man answering the phone at the dockmaster's office at Marina Jack's said a cabin cruiser was docked at the slip referred to in the warrant but that it wasn't a residence. "We don't allow live-aboards here," he said. He said he didn't know whether Weimar was renting the slip. The website of Crimestoppers of Sarasota County posted a wanted picture of Weimar and gave his date of birth as identical to the former Alaskan's. Sutton said the case against Weimar was being investigated by a detective in the sheriff's office. Reached after work on her cell phone, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office said she couldn't get any information about the case after hours. A friend of Weimar in Alaska, attorney Jon Buchholdt, said Weimar lived on the west coast of Florida but he didn't know the town. Buchholdt said he knew nothing about the accusations and hadn't spoken to Weimar recently. The Seattle attorney who represented Weimar in his federal criminal case in Alaska, David Bukey, said he also knew nothing about the Sarasota allegations. Weimar was once the principal owner of the Allvest Corp., which had a chain of halfway houses around Alaska that contracted with the Alaska Department of Corrections to house state prisoners, usually six months before their terms were up. Allvest also had a drug and alcohol testing facility. He sold the halfway house business to the national private prison company Cornell Corrections Inc. He later partnered with Cornell and the oil-field service company Veco in an effort to persuade the Legislature and some Alaska communities to build a large private prison in Alaska. But that effort was mingled with corruption. A legislative candidate's complaint to the FBI that Weimar tried to hand him an envelope stuffed with cash became one of the impetuses in 2004 for "Polar Pen," the investigation that eventually resulted in indictments or guilty pleas of six legislators and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. One case is still pending. The rest were convicted, though Stevens' case was later thrown out over prosecutorial misconduct.

November 10, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who once ran a lucrative Alaska halfway house business and is now retired and living in Montana, will face a federal judge Wednesday morning for sentencing on two felonies. Weimar pleaded guilty in August to a role in a scheme to illegally funnel $20,000 in 2004 to a political consultant for an Alaska legislative candidate, knowing that if the candidate won, he would back a private prison long sought by Weimar. Prosecutors want Weimar, 68, to serve a year. Weimar's lawyer says a sentence of five months' incarceration and five months of home detention, as proposed by the federal probation office, would be fair. But Weimar asks that he be allowed to do five months of community service rather than home detention.

August 12, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who made his fortune off private halfway houses in Alaska, pleaded guilty Monday to two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won. Weimar had a long-standing relationship with the candidate running in the 2004 primary, a charging document filed Monday said. Weimar held a "contingent interest" in a private prison project worth $5.5 million, but only if the project was completed, the charges say. He faces prison time in the plea deal and may have to forfeit "certain property." Prosecutors estimate a sentence of 10 to 16 months. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick isn't bound to that. He set sentencing for Oct. 29. Weimar, who owned Allvest Inc., becomes the 11th person charged in the broad, ongoing investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice into political corruption in Alaska. Weimar, 68, now lives in Big Arm, Mont. At the brief hearing on Monday, Weimar answered the judge's routine questions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini outlined the two charges: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and illegally manipulating currency transactions to avoid reporting them to the Treasury Department. Weimar has admitted paying the consultant a total of $20,000 during the primary in August 2004 to cover expenses for the candidate, without reporting the payments and without routing them through the campaign. How do you plead? Sedwick asked. "Guilty," Weimar answered, to each charge. LAWMAKER NOT NAMED -- For years, Weimar pushed plans for a private prison in Alaska, but the project was always controversial and no prison was ever built. A Democratic activist in the 1970s, Weimar later became close to the Republicans who controlled the Alaska Legislature. Neither the Senate candidate nor the consultant -- both accused of conspiring with Weimar -- is named in the charging document. Prosecutors declined to expand on it Monday. But the candidate described in the documents, and in court Monday, appears to be former state Sen. Jerry Ward. He didn't return phone calls or e-mail messages on Monday. Ward, a Republican elected from Anchorage in 1996 and the Kenai Peninsula in 2000, fervently pushed private prison projects as a legislator. The charging document says the candidate running in 2004 had a long relationship with Weimar, and held elected office part of that time. Ward and Weimar were "buddies," according to a statement that former lobbyist Bill Bobrick, who worked for Weimar, gave to the FBI in September 2006. Bobrick also has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation. He declined to comment on Monday. In 1997, a plan for a private prison in South Anchorage with Allvest and Veco Corp. as partners crumbled under strong public opposition. As that project evaporated, Ward emerged as the lead architect of a new plan to build private prisons in the Mat-Su and Seward. "By God, this really solves the problem," Weimar was quoted as saying at the time. In 2001, Ward signed on as the only Senate sponsor of a House bill pushing a private prison on the Kenai. The charging document against Weimar doesn't say whether the candidate won in 2004 and does not call the person a legislator. Ward lost his seat in 2002 to Tom Wagoner. He was trying to regain it in 2004, but lost in the Republican primary to Wagoner. SEATTLE CONSULTANT -- In court Monday, Bottini told the judge the consultant was from Seattle. Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash. Numerous calls left for Madison principal Brett Bader on Monday were not returned. The charges against Weimar and other court documents quote details of a number of telephone conversations he had with the consultant and the candidate from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2004. In a telephone conversation on Aug. 17, 2004, the consultant told Weimar that the campaign was having money trouble, court documents say. "I'm worried we're reaching the limit now. I don't know where we find 10 grand unless (Candidate A) can get more in," the consultant said "There's no legal way to do that. At least not on that scale," Weimar responded. Later that day, Weimar arranged to cover the next advertising mailer for the candidate, and told the candidate so, the document says. On Aug. 20, 2004, Weimar told the candidate of an unpaid invoice of $20,000 with the consultant. The candidate's campaign funds were depleted, the charges say. The candidate said he had only $300 to $400 left in his account. On Aug. 23, 2004, Weimar made arrangements with the consultant to pay off the debt, the charges say. He then called the candidate and told him "he would not be receiving any further bills from Consultant A," the charging document says. Weimar sent the consulting company a $3,000 check on Aug. 23, 2004, then sent $8,500 in cash that same day by express mail, and another $8,500 cash the day after, the charges say. "WE'VE MOVED ON" -- The charges also do not name the private prison company, but Cornell Corrections Inc. tried to build a prison in various Alaska communities, including Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The charging document describes the unnamed company's Alaska interests as halfway houses, a planned juvenile treatment center, and a private prison project, and that matches Cornell's interests. In 1998, in the midst of planning for a private prison in Delta Junction, Weimar sold five Alaska halfway houses to Cornell for $21 million. He also formed a partnership with Cornell to pursue the Delta prison and subsequent deals for a private facility. One goal of the conspiracy was to get the private prison company to give campaign contributions to the candidate to help win election, according to the charges. A spokesman for Cornell said the company was unaware of the charges but supports the prosecution. The executives now in charge of Cornell weren't there at the time of the events that involved Weimar, spokesman Charles Seigel said Monday. Company records don't show any evidence of wrongdoing, he added. "We've moved on and we are very different and have it behind us," Seigel said. Cornell also has not pursued a private prison in Alaska for years and is no longer interested in that, he said. "We're glad this investigation is going on but whatever was going on or may have been going on in the past, that is not the Cornell that exists now, both in the policy on the private prison as we've talked about and in general about the way we do business." By 2004, Veco was no longer involved in the prison project, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, Cornell consultant and FBI informant, has said. ANDERSON INVOLVED -- The failed private prison effort was also central in the government's case against former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, now in prison. At Anderson's corruption trial last summer, Prewitt was a key witness who testified at length about his undercover work to collect evidence against Anderson, and also about questionable acts in his own past. From the witness stand, Prewitt said that in 1994 -- when he was corrections commissioner and Weimar owned Allvest -- he accepted $30,000 from Weimar. Prewitt testified that he considered the money a loan, which he repaid the next year, after he left his state post, by working four months for Allvest for free. Weimar helped start Allvest in 1985, then bought out his partners and turned it into a multimillion dollar corporation with operations in Alaska and Washington state. Its government contracts were worth an estimated $10 million a year. Allvest also operated a lab that did contract urinalysis work, and used to run the city's Animal Control Center and the Community Service Patrol. In 2002, Allvest was forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid judgments in civil suits against the company. The bankruptcy case eventually was settled.

November 27, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
State Sen. Lesil McGuire was accused Tuesday of making veiled threats to dissuade a lobbyist from testifying in the corruption case against her husband, former state Rep. Tom Anderson. The surprising information came up during the sentencing hearing of Bill Bobrick, a once-prominent lobbyist who began cooperating in September 2006 with the FBI in its investigation of corruption in Alaska politics. In an interview after the hearing, McGuire denied making any threats and said Bobrick was deflecting attention from himself onto her "on the day of his reckoning with the public." Bobrick, 52, pleaded guilty in May to conspiring with Anderson to push the interests of a private prison firm in exchange for money. He funneled nearly $24,000 to Anderson, money put up by a prison consultant who was working undercover for the FBI. In all, Anderson received nearly $26,000. The prison company, Cornell Cos., didn't know about the scheme, federal officials have said. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ordered Bobrick to serve five months in prison, followed by five months of house arrest on the felony conspiracy conviction. That's the minimum sentence under federal guidelines, which are advisory. It's far less than the two years to 30 months that Bobrick would have faced if he didn't cooperate. And it's much less than the five years that Sedwick sentenced Anderson to serve. The Republican who represented East Anchorage in the Legislature for two terms also initially cooperated with the FBI, then decided to fight the charges against him. He was indicted in December 2006 and a jury convicted him in July of seven felony counts including bribery and money laundering. Anderson reports to a federal prison on Monday in Oregon.

November 22, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Once-prominent lobbyist Bill Bobrick almost surely is going to prison. But not for long. His sentencing on a single felony charge of conspiracy, part of an ongoing federal investigation of political corruption in Alaska, is set for Tuesday morning before U.S. District Judge John Sedwick. Bobrick has been cooperating with the government, so will get much less time than the five years slapped on the only other defendant sentenced so far in the corruption probe, former state Rep. Tom Anderson. "I take full responsibility for my crime," Bobrick, 52, said in a brief telephone call on Wednesday. "I can never apologize too much to my fellow Alaskans for the damage I have done to our political system." Prosecutors are asking that he be sentenced to a year and a day, which triggers a rule that requires he do all the time in prison, less only good time. With good behavior, he could be out after about 10 1/2 months. They also want two years of probation, prosecutors wrote in a memo to the judge. The defense wants a sentence of less than a year and is asking that Bobrick be allowed to serve at least part of it under house arrest or in a halfway house. That would allow him to do community service as he's serving his time, which is what his attorney said he really wants. Federal prisoners don't get "good time" for sentences of less than a year. "Bobrick is not pleading for mercy," his attorney, Doug Pope, wrote in his sentencing memorandum. "He is requesting that the court credit him with providing substantial assistance to the government, and give him a chance to atone for his crime." If he hadn't cooperated, he'd be facing two years or longer for the conspiracy conviction under sentencing guidelines. Bobrick is married and has lived in Alaska for 32 years. His wife is in her third year of medical school. Pope filed in court more than 50 letters of support, many trying to convince the judge to fashion a sentence that puts Bobrick to work doing community service rather than serving time in prison. At least six former Anchorage Assembly members and several law enforcement representatives are among the dozens who wrote in. Bobrick's not the type to get in trouble again, his supporters said. Many mentioned good work he's done as a volunteer for years. They said he apologized to his friends, clients and colleagues one by one long before his case became public. "I believe that Bill Bobrick knows that his actions were wrong and that he is full of remorse about the choices he made," wrote Jane Angvik, a former Anchorage Assembly member. She met him in 1986 through political activity and has served on boards with him. She wrote that she's talked with him about the crime and he wept as he described his regret. "He said he had 'lost his way,' that he has changed, and that he is prepared to accept whatever punishment the court deems appropriate." Bobrick pleaded guilty in May to conspiring with Anderson to push the interests of a private prison firm in exchange for money. He became one of the main government witnesses against Anderson in a trial this summer. A consultant to Cornell Cos. funneled $24,000 to Bobrick in the scheme, and Bobrick eventually passed almost all of it on to Anderson. The consultant, former state Corrections Commissioner Frank Prewitt, was working undercover for the FBI and Cornell knew nothing of the bribes, officials have said. Until he was caught up in the ongoing, multipronged FBI investigation last year, Bobrick was a powerful player in the city. He didn't lobby the state Legislature but was active politically and served as executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party in the late 1980s. He then registered as a lobbyist in the municipality. For years, he had more clients than anyone with city business. He's lost all that now. The FBI confronted him in late September 2006 with secretly recorded telephone calls and meetings about the scheme with Anderson. He began cooperating on Sept. 28, 2006. The defense expects the government to agree that his help "has been as broad and as extensive as the government requested, that his assistance extended beyond the 'Cornell Corrections conspiracy' which was the subject of the Anderson indictment and trial, and involved actively assisting in collecting evidence, including recording conversations." Bobrick was vaguely threatened before the Anderson trial, according to Pope. He described it as "contacts implying threats of economic injury." "Those threats were credible," Pope wrote. "It is reasonable to conclude that they were an attempt to influence Bobrick's testimony or to dissuade him from testifying at all." Pope didn't provide details but indicated in his memo that more information was in another filing, which was not made public. The government is seeking a $5,000 fine. But Bobrick no longer can make a living and should not be fined, Pope wrote.

November 13, 2007 AP
A former Alaska lawmaker convicted of seven counts of conspiracy and bribery will begin his five-year federal prison sentence next month. Former Rep. Tom Anderson on Monday told Anchorage television station KTUU that he will report to a federal prison south of Portland, Ore., on Dec. 3. Anderson, 40, a two-term Republican from Anchorage who chose not to run for re-election in 2006, was convicted in July of taking nearly $24,000 he thought was coming from a private prison firm, Cornell Industries Inc., in exchange for his assistance on legislation. The money was supplied by the FBI through an informant under contract to Cornell, Frank Prewitt, a former Alaska Department of Corrections commissioner. Prewitt secretly recorded his conversations with Anderson and a co-conspirator, lobbyist Bill Bobrick, between July 2004 and March 2005. Cornell Industries was not aware of the bribery scheme or investigation. The 60-month sentence fell within the presentencing report guidelines of 51 to 63 months. Anderson was the first of four former Republican Alaska lawmakers arrested on federal corruption charges. Former House Speaker Pete Kott was convicted in October of conspiracy to solicit financial benefits, extortion and bribery. He will be sentenced Dec. 7. Former state Rep. Vic Kohring was convicted earlier this month of bribery, conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted interference with commerce by extortion. He was acquitted of another count of interference with commerce by extortion. Sentencing was set Feb. 6. The corruption trial of former state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch has been delayed.

November 7, 2007 UPI
The Alaska Public Offices Commission is coordinating with the U.S. Justice Department to probe what Veco Corp. illegally did to benefit Alaska politicians. The commission, which investigates campaign-finance violations, is focusing on matters such as polls the oil-services company may have illegally bought for legislators, as well as illegal Veco campaign contributions, The Anchorage Daily News reported. The Justice Department, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service are conducting a widespread investigation into alleged political corruption of lawmakers in the Alaska Legislature, focusing in particular on lawmakers' official actions in connection with the oil industry, fisheries and private corrections industry. Former Alaska lawmaker Pete Kott, accused of trading his legislative influence for bribes, was convicted of corruption charges in the scandal Sept. 27. Veco founder and Chief Executive Officer Bill Allen and Vice President for Community and Government Affairs Rick Smith pleaded guilty May 7 to charges of bribery and conspiracy. Because of the chances of overlap between the state and federal probes, the state commission is cooperating closely with the Justice Department, particularly on the issue of subpoenas, the newspaper said.

October 9, 2007 KTUU
For the first time since facing federal corruption charges, former Anchorage Representative Tom Anderson is publicly admitting he broke the law. Anderson was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges in July. His admission comes about a week before his sentencing. In a memo filed with U.S. District Court yesterday (Monday), Anderson says "I accept full responsibility for the choices I've made and the damge I've done...." Anderson's lawyer says he is seeking leniency - specifically, no more than 33 months behind bars. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini says prosecutors will likely request a sentence of 5 to six years. Bottini says it's too late for Anderson to acknowledge he did wrong, since he could have pleaded guilty before the trial. Anderson was found guilty for taking money he thought was coming from a private prison company. The nearly $26,000 actually came from an FBI informant who secretly recorded conversations with Anderson and former municipal lobbyist Bill Bobrick.

September 19, 2007 KTUU
Cornell Cos. claims it will no longer attempt to sell projects here in Alaska. The company has made big headlines in Alaska over the last several months as the private prison firm used a decoy by government informant Frank Prewitt in crafting a bribery scheme with former Anchorage lobbyist Bill Bobrick and former Anchorage Rep. Tom Anderson. Both Anderson and Bobrick have been convicted of corruption and bribery in the scheme. Cornell has tried building a private prison in Alaska three times -- in Delta junction, Kenai and Whittier -- and has been unsuccessful in each instance. Now Cornell CEO James Hyman said he's done. "We understand how the [Department of Justice] had to use bait to get what they needed. We are a little chagrined to be that bait," Hyman said. Although the government successfully used Cornell as bait to take down Anderson and Bobrick, the company was not involved in the kickbacks and knew nothing of Prewitt's arrangement with federal agents. Instead, Cornell was simply part of an FBI cover in order to keep the bribery framework it was monitoring with Anderson and Bobrick believable. Unbeknownst to Cornell, Prewitt sought Anderson's help on matters key to the company's future plans, including muscling through the complex bureaucracy to prove to the state those projects were needed. During the Anderson trial, Prewitt told the court he made an illegal campaign contribution utilizing money from a former Cornell executive. After hearing that, Hyman said the company wanted to ensure its activities in Alaska had all been above board. Hyman said the company talked to current and ex-employees to try and discover any wrongdoing. He said he is confident there have been no issues since he took over in 2005 and said there's no evidence it happen in prior years either. Among the projects Cornell was pursuing in Alaska, and Prewitt was using to snare Anderson, was a new juvenile residential treatment facility for Anchorage. The project suffered from poor community support for the Downtown location it chose for a detention facility in addition to the paperwork and bureaucratic snags. Cornell currently operates six halfway houses across the state, including three here in Anchorage. A company executive announced that is where its focus will remain for the foreseeable future. "We are not interested in the juvenile sector here. We are not interested in building a private prison here or operating a private prison here. That is not where we are going to focus," Hyman said. Alaska Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt said the department's relationship with Cornell is still strong. "Right now, they want to work with us instead of against us, and I think we have a pretty good partnership right now," Schmidt said. The possibility of constructing a private prison in Alaska was taken off the table three years ago when the state legislature passed a bill requiring any prison expansion in the state to be state-run and state-operated.

July 30, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Federal law enforcement agents are currently searching the Girdwood home of Alaska U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, an FBI agent said. "All I can say is that agents from the FBI and IRS are currently conducting a search at that residence," said Dave Heller, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Anchorage office. The search began this afternoon, he said. It's the only such search warrant currently being served, he said. He directed other questions to the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington. A spokesman there had no comment. Federal investigators and a grand jury looking into public corruption in Alaska have been asking questions about a 2000 remodeling project at Stevens' home, particularly the involvement of the oil field services firm Veco. Three contractors who worked on the project told the Daily News that their records had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, and others connected with the work and with Stevens had been interviewed. One of the contractors who worked on the job said he was hired by Veco CEO Bill Allen for the job, and while his bills were paid by Stevens and his wife, Catherine, invoices were reviewed first by Veco. Allen and a Veco vice president pleaded guilty in May to bribery, extortion and other charges connected with paying off state legislators.

July 10, 2007 KTVA TV
Cornell Cos., whose lobbyist became the federal government's chief witness in the corruption case against former Anchorage Rep. Tom Anderson, wants it known it had nothing to with the bribery scheme. The Texas-based corrections company runs five halfway houses across the state. It hired lobbyist Frank Prewitt to help advance its interest in those and other areas, including developing a privately run prison in Alaska and a juvenile treatment facility in Anchorage. Cornell says while Prewitt may have told now-convicted co-conspirators Bill Bobrick and Anderson that the bribe money he had to offer was coming from Cornell, in reality, the company says they had no knowledge of what was going on. The company also claims it had no idea Prewitt was an FBI informant. However, Prewitt did admit under oath that he had been implicated but not yet charged in an illegal contribution scheme involving a Cornell Cos. executive in 2003. Prewitt testified he helped funnel $3,000 from that executive to an Alaska politician that same year. The FBI has acknowledged the money Prewitt used in the bribe scheme involving Anderson came from them and not Cornell. Cornell Cos. Consultant Charles Seigel said the company does not support bribery.

July 10, 2007 KTVA TV
Alaska Senator Ted Stevens says he's worried about how a corruption investigation could affect his run for re-election next year. The 83-year-old Republican has drawn Justice Department scrutiny over a renovation project in 2000, that more than doubled the size of his home in Girdwood. The remodeling was overseen by Bill Allen -- a contractor who has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators. Allen is founder of VECO Corporation -- an Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company that has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts. Allen is cooperating with the FBI. It appears investigators are looking at whether VECO got anything in return for the home improvement help. Alaska's senior senator is caught up in a larger probe that included FBI raids last summer at offices of six Alaska legislators. Those legislators include Stevens' son, Ben, who was then the president of the state Senate. Ted Stevens told The Associated Press recently that, "The worst thing about this investigation is that it does change your life in terms of employment potential... "It doesn't matter what anyone says, it does shake you up. If this is still hanging around a year from November, it could cause me some trouble." Monday, a federal jury convicted former state Representative Tom Anderson on all seven counts in a corruption trial in Anchorage. Anderson was charged with seven felonies, including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and interfering with commerce, a charge connected to a demand for payments. Prosecutors said he conspired to take money he thought was coming from a private prison firm, Cornell Industries, Incorporated. The conspiracy called for Cornell to invest in a Web-based public affairs newsletter that Anderson would write for, something a private prison firm would not normally sponsor, as a way to pay off Anderson.

July 10, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Federal jurors said they relied on former state Rep. Tom Anderson's own words to convict him Monday of conspiracy, bribery and other charges related to political corruption. Eleven jurors returned seven guilty verdicts around 1:30 p.m., finding Anderson, 39, guilty of all felony charges against him. Witnesses testified Anderson took money to do the bidding of a private prison firm. In all, Anderson received $25,838 in 2004 and 2005, witnesses said. The money was supplied by the FBI through Frank Prewitt, a consultant for Cornell Cos., who secretly recorded his conversations with Anderson and a co-conspirator, former lobbyist Bill Bobrick. Juror No. 9 was dismissed Monday after a closed hearing for reasons that weren't explained. Both sides agreed to go forward with fewer than 12. Jurors at first were split over whether Anderson had been entrapped by the government, said several reached after the verdict. Jury forewoman Wendy Gilbert of Valdez said the key evidence came from a July 28, 2004, recording of a conversation among Anderson, Prewitt and Bobrick -- the first after the conspiracy began, according to the government. Jurors asked for it to be replayed on Monday and found that Anderson had an idea of what was expected of him from the start. "They started talking about what he could do for Cornell," juror Travis Gardner of Chugiak said. And when Anderson was asked about his credentials, Gardner said, the first thing he said was that he's a legislator. It didn't matter if Anderson would have taken the same actions anyway, such as getting on key budget committees, because he accepted money for doing so, said Gardner, 23. Another juror said she felt prosecutors presented a "substantial amount of evidence." Asked what was key in their decision, juror Marie Gieryic of Eagle River replied in an e-mail: "the recorded conversations of Anderson and others." Those conversations, along with other evidence, showed "Anderson understood he was taking part in illegal activities," wrote Gieryic, a mother of three who works in a child care center. MESSAGE TO JUNEAU The verdict should help "reinject ethics" into the Legislature and send a message "that there is a significant price to pay for abusing the public's trust in this manner," she wrote. Legislators need to think twice before they sell out. Anderson and his attorney seemed stunned by the verdict. When the jury left the room, Anderson uttered a weary sigh. "I'm devastated," he said. He said he'd appeal. "The prosecution has criminalized being a legislator over this past year. And I think I fell victim to that," Anderson said. Anderson's attorney, Paul Stockler said Anderson will need to think over what to do next after consulting with his wife, state Sen. Lesil McGuire, and a circle of advisers. "I'm speechless right now," Stockler said. "But when you go up against the government, you risk losing." Anderson never tied the payment of money to any official acts as a legislator, Stockler said. "He was always willing to help, and it had nothing to do with money." For the reading of the verdict, the courtroom quickly filled with FBI agents, prosecutors and staff members. McGuire wasn't there. She and other friends and family came to the trial but couldn't get to the federal building in downtown Anchorage in time after jurors announced they had reached a verdict, Anderson said. McGuire was not accused of wrongdoing. In fact, prosecutors used the fact that Anderson hid the payments from her as further evidence of a shady deal. NO ENTRAPMENT With seven counts and an entrapment defense, the case was particularly complex, said Gilbert, the jury forewoman. "There's a lot on the line and a lot on your shoulders, and you want to make sure you do the right thing," said Gilbert, a pipeline lab technician and mother of three. A common thread for jurors was that none knew much about the case beforehand from news coverage. In the end, jurors concluded Anderson had not been lured to commit crimes by a government agent. He was not "entrapped." Juror Gardner, who works for a trucking company, said the case was a lesson in Alaska politics. "I didn't even know what lobbying was," he said. But it didn't make him cynical, he said. Businesses should have a way to get their interests heard -- just not by paying legislators, he said. The public corruption case against Anderson provided the first real test for the FBI and prosecutors in their ongoing investigation of Alaska state legislators. Three other politicians are awaiting trial, though the schemes alleged in those cases are different. Those cases involve allegations of bribes paid by executives with oil field services contractor Veco. Lawyers for indicted former Reps. Bruce Weyhrauch and Pete Kott, whose trial is set for Sept. 5, said the guilty verdict won't have any impact on their strategy because the facts are so different. State Rep. Vic Kohring, whose trial is set for Oct. 22 and who is stepping down from his post next week, said he was saddened for Anderson but that his own resolve to fight the charges against him had not waned. Nick Marsh and Joe Bottini prosecuted the case against Anderson. They didn't comment on the verdict, nor did the FBI in Alaska. The only government statement came out of Washington, D.C. "Anderson has been held accountable for his crimes thanks to the hard work of federal prosecutors and FBI agents, and the Department of Justice will continue its pursuit of public corruption at all levels of government," U.S. Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher said in a written statement. KEY WITNESS One of the government's main witnesses was former lobbyist Bobrick. Gardner said jurors didn't find Bobrick that believable. Bobrick pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy in the scheme and agreed to cooperate with the government in the hope of getting a lighter sentence. Bobrick told jurors about a series of checks he wrote to Anderson or his consulting business that went far beyond the initial payments revealed before the trial: $3,000 on Feb. 14, 2005, $1,500 on Feb. 25, 2005, and more, on into June 2005. In all, Bobrick passed nearly $24,000 through to Anderson, and Prewitt gave him another $2,000 directly, according to their testimony. Bobrick testified he had an idea for a political Web site that he had hoped would become a real business with Anderson, but it never did. Anderson was paid "for being a legislator," Bobrick told jurors. But, as jurors indicated, Anderson's own words were most damaging. On a Nov. 16, 2004, recording of a meeting in his Anchorage legislative office, Anderson brought up money and told Prewitt he didn't want to split the next payment with Bobrick. Anderson served in the state House from 2003 to this year. He didn't run in 2006. U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick set sentencing for Oct. 2. Anderson faces certain prison time and significant fines.

July 6, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
On June 13, 2005, an FBI agent left a message on then-state Rep. Tom Anderson's cell phone asking for his views on an upcoming federal appointment because he had been such a friend of law enforcement in the past. But when Anderson showed up at the FBI building in downtown Anchorage the next day, he discovered that was just a ploy. He was the target of an undercover FBI investigation. Huge blown-up pictures from a five-hour-long Prince William Sound sailing trip on the boat of Cornell Cos. consultant Frank Prewitt were on the wall. Agents played secretly made recordings of his conversations with Prewitt and lobbyist Bill Bobrick. The agents wanted to get Anderson to cooperate in its ongoing corruption investigation. And for a time he did, prosecutors said. The defense in Anderson's corruption trial wrapped up Thursday after five quick witnesses. The case is expected to go to the jury today after closing arguments. Anderson is charged with seven federal felonies, including bribery, extortion and money laundering. Defense lawyer Paul Stockler maintained that Anderson never took any legislative actions for money. He tried to portray Anderson as a man who had no inclination to do anything shady but was lured in to doing questionable things by the FBI. Anderson didn't take the stand. After court ended for the day on Thursday, Anderson said he trusted Stockler's judgment in directing his defense. With the case about to go to the jury, he said he felt anxious but didn't want to say much. Earlier in the trial, Bobrick testified that he created a business that was supposed to produce a Web site about Alaska politics. But he told jurors that it ultimately became a sham used to funnel illegal payments from Prewitt to Anderson. Prosecutors assert that the money was used to get the legislator to do Cornell's bidding on halfway houses, a juvenile treatment center and a private prison. Though Anderson was supposed to have produced material for the Web site, witnesses have testified that he never did. Bobrick has pleaded guilty and Prewitt worked undercover for the FBI, making recordings "as a cooperating witness."

July 4, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
On the stand for a second day in federal court Tuesday, former lobbyist Bill Bobrick told jurors that his idea for a political Web site started as a real business venture in 2004 with then-state Rep. Tom Anderson. It wasn't supposed to be a way "to bribe Tom Anderson or channel him funds. But it certainly ended up that way," Bobrick testified. Ultimately, its only real purpose was to disguise payments to Anderson, he told jurors. Anderson never did any real work for the Web site and received the money "for being a legislator," Bobrick said. The Web site never got off the ground. Prosecutors rested their corruption case against Anderson on Tuesday afternoon after calling eight witnesses over four days. The trial began June 25 with jury selection, which lasted 2 1/2 days. Prosecutors contend that Bobrick's Web site business was used to funnel payments from a Cornell Cos. consultant to Anderson so that he would do the company's bidding on halfway houses, a juvenile treatment center and a private prison. Anderson faces seven felony counts. Bobrick has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and said he is cooperating with the government in the hope of getting a lighter sentence. In all, Anderson received a total of $25,838, based on testimony about various checks. That's much more money than was previously disclosed. The charges list $12,838 in payments to Anderson. The FBI actually provided the money. Cornell was unaware of any scheme, the government has said.

July 2, 2007 AP
Government informer Frank Prewitt had plenty of chances to call off a scheme to funnel payments to former state Rep. Tom Anderson but did not, Anderson's attorney contended in federal court Monday. In a second day of questioning of the prosecution's star witness in the corruption case against Anderson, defense attorney Paul Stockler hammered away at conversations secretly recorded by Prewitt and his motives for doing so. Prewitt is a former Corrections Department commissioner and a consultant for a private prison company, Cornell Industries Inc. At least 10 times, Stockler said, Anderson or the man he's accused of conspiring with, Bill Bobrick, posed questions to Prewitt as to his comfort level with their plan to have Cornell spend money on their proposed Web-based public affairs newsletter. Prewitt, cooperating with an FBI investigation, acknowledged he did not halt their plan. "My role was not to advise them as to what was and wasn't illegal ... My role was to have conversations and see where they went," Prewitt said. Anderson was arrested Dec. 7 and charged with single counts of conspiracy and bribery, three counts of money laundering and two counts of interfering with commerce, a charge connected to a demand for payments. He's accused of conspiring with Bobrick, a former municipal lobbyist in Anchorage, to solicit and obtain money for Anderson's influence as a lawmaker. According to prosecutors, the newsletter company was a front for Cornell to pay Anderson money that could not be traced directly to Cornell. Prewitt testified that Cornell, whose entire business in Alaska comes through government contracts, had no use for advertising in a newsletter or sponsoring it. Bobrick in May pleaded guilty to bribing Anderson. Following testimony by Prewitt and former Corrections Commissioner Marc Antrim, Bobrick took the stand for the last half hour of proceedings Monday. Stockler contends Prewitt cooperated with investigators because Prewitt himself also was being investigated, and that Prewitt steered recorded conversations with Anderson to payoffs. In his cross examination of Prewitt, Stockler's questions followed several themes: — Prewitt never gave his opinion that Cornell's payments would be illegal or directly tied Anderson's help to them. — Even before the alleged conspiracy, Anderson supported Cornell's interests. — Anderson's interest in shielding his link to Cornell was connected to his re-election and not offending corrections constituents whose jobs could be threatened if Cornell's private prisons were built. Stockler also closely questioned Prewitt on his instructions for recording conversations from the FBI, and whether he was instructed to lie. Prewitt acknowledged one lie — his promise to run the newsletter and payment scheme "up the flagpole" to the principles at Cornell. He never did. "So that was a lie?" Stockler asked. "I guess that would be true," Prewitt said. But Prewitt kept his composure as he methodically responded to Stockler's other questions. He acknowledged that other lawmakers, including Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, had intervened for Cornell, even fielding "talking points" composed by Prewitt for making Cornell's case. The difference was, Hawker did not receive payments, Prewitt said. In some instances, Bobrick's concern that Prewitt might consider the arrangement over whether Prewitt considered the scheme a "bad idea" or "sleazy" was because Bobrick was afraid it would jeopardize his own $5,000 per month annual contract with Cornell, Prewitt said. In another, Bobrick expressed concern that Prewitt would experience "sticker shock" over the amount of money requested — three payments of $8,000. Under a questioning by Nicholas A. Marsh, a trial attorney in the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Prewitt said that acknowledging the illegality of the payments to Anderson or Bobrick would have defeated the purpose of the investigation. "That would have had an immediate chilling effect on the inquiry," Prewitt said. He denied that he was ever told by the FBI that he had to "bag a state legislator." Marsh asked whether Anderson had "many times" acknowledged that Cornell had no interest in the newsletter and knew it was a sham. "No question about it, the purpose of this arrangement was not the Web site?" Marsh asked. "No question," Prewitt replied. In the half hour he was on the stand, under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph W. Bottini, Bobrick had time only to lay out his background as a construction worker, union official, director of the Democratic party and legislative aide. Bobrick said he befriended Anderson in 2001 when Anderson was a member of the Anchorage School Board and they eventually discussed going into business. Anderson, a moderate Republican, would lobby in Juneau and Bobrick, then a Democrat, in Anchorage. Anderson approached him in early 2004 and told him he needed money. He asked Bobrick if he could find him contract work. "He was my friend and I wanted to help him out," Bobrick said. He is scheduled to continue testifying Tuesday.

July 1, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
A former deputy corrections commissioner whose name came up Friday in the Tom Anderson corruption trial was working as an informant for the FBI in 2004 when he asked a prison company consultant for money, an FBI spokesman said Saturday. Former Cornell Cos. consultant Frank Prewitt testified Friday that he worked with deputy commissioner Don Stolworthy that year to develop a compromise on competing bills to build a new prison. One measure could have led to a Cornell-run prison in Whittier. The other, supported by the Murkowski administration, pushed a state-run prison in the Valley. Prewitt, a state corrections commissioner in the 1990s, testified Stolworthy told him he was worried about losing his job because of union opposition to a private prison. Prewitt said he assured Stolworthy that “people would be there for him” if that happened. Prewitt told jurors that Stolworthy eventually began seeking money, as a sort of insurance policy, if he lost his job. But he only did that because the FBI asked him to, FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said Saturday. Stolworthy was working for the FBI as a “cooperating witness,” he said. “We approached him out of the blue,” Gonzalez said. “We asked for his help and he said he’d be glad to help us.” Stolworthy “was squeaky clean,” Gonzalez said. The fact that Stolworthy was working undercover for the FBI never came up during the trial on Friday. Prewitt testified that he was shocked that Stolworthy was asking for money and read him the ethics act. The FBI won’t discuss what evidence it may have collected on Prewitt through Stolworthy. But in his opening statement on Wednesday, federal prosecutor Joe Bottini said that Prewitt may have tried to improperly influence a state corrections official. The matter came up because Prewitt is the government’s star witness in the corruption case against Anderson, a former state representative. Defense attorney Paul Stockler cross-examined Prewitt on Friday about possible illegal activities in his background and pressed him on whether he was just testifying against Anderson to save himself. Efforts to reach Stolworthy Saturday were unsuccessful. When the state issued a statement announcing his resignation in January 2005, it said he accepted a job for the U.S. Justice Department as warden of a prison in Iraq. Anderson’s trial resumes Monday as Stockler’s cross-examination of Prewitt continues.

June 28, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Prosecutors say Tom Anderson was a debt-ridden politician who sold his office for $12,838 and knew exactly what he was doing. The defense says the real culprit is former state corrections commissioner Frank Prewitt, who was under investigation himself and exploited Anderson to save himself. Anderson was a hard-working legislator who never took any official actions in exchange for money, said defense attorney Paul Stockler. Jurors on Wednesday heard those contrasting views as the two sides gave opening statements in the public corruption trial of Anderson. The first witnesses will be called today. Anderson, a two-term state representative who didn't run again in 2006, is fighting seven felony charges including bribery, extortion and money laundering. A jury of eight women and four men, plus four alternatives, was seated Wednesday afternoon. They were picked from a pool of 102 after hours of questioning by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick and lawyers spread over three days. Some scribbled notes as the lawyers gave their opening statements. A small crowd of spectators came to hear. A friend of Anderson's who has been collecting money for his defense sat in, but Anderson's wife, state Sen. Lesil McGuire, didn't attend. Jurors will be asked to absorb complicated information over the next few days, prosecutor Joe Bottini told them. Neither of the central figures in the case against Anderson -- Prewitt and former lobbyist Bill Bobrick -- are "squeaky clean witnesses," Bottini acknowledged. Bobrick has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in the case and has agreed to testify against Anderson. Bobrick came up with a scheme to create a phony company and use it to funnel payments from the private prison firm Cornell Cos. to Anderson, prosecutors assert. Cornell didn't know about the scheme, and after the FBI got involved it provided the payments. PREWITT'S PAST: The other key witness will be Prewitt, whose own flaws the prosecutor discussed at length. Prewitt, who became a consultant to Cornell after leaving his state post, was being investigated for various actions when the FBI confronted him in April 2004, Bottini said. He agreed to help the FBI in its "broad public corruption investigation," the prosecutor said. Anderson is one of four legislators or former legislators indicted in the past seven months. Cornell had been trying for years to open a private prison in Alaska, and Prewitt may have tried to improperly influence a state corrections official regarding it, the prosecutor said. He also was being investigated for a practice in political campaigns known as "conduit contributions" in which someone gives money to other people to pass on to candidates. That is done to bypass campaign contribution limits. Bobrick also was involved in "conduit contributions," Bottini said. In addition, while Prewitt was state corrections commissioner, he accepted $30,000 from a friend who had business with the department, Bottini said. The government has no deal with Prewitt that he won't be charged with any crime in exchange for his help, but certainly he's hoping for a break, the prosecutor said.

June 22, 2007 Juneau Empire
Former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, goes on trial Monday in Anchorage, in a case which may be linked to the ongoing political corruption investigation involving VECO Corp. executives and other state legislators. Also involved, likely without her knowledge, may be Anderson's wife, Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage. Regardless of VECO's involvement, Anderson's attorney has already begun preparing for a trial under increased public scrutiny of political corruption cases. Paul Stockler, an Anchorage attorney representing Anderson, has already asked a federal judge for permission to question potential jurors about how much they know about "this and other well publicized cases." He also wants to be able to ask about what they know about Anderson "or the other well publicized witnesses." The FBI investigation in Alaska, led by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Public Integrity became publicly known in August of 2006. At that time FBI agents served search warrants on the offices of six members of the Alaska Legislature, though not Anderson, as well as VECO and other offices. Three of the six legislators and two top VECO executives have been indicted on corruption charges. The executives have pleaded guilty, while the legislators have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. A series of indictments, guilty pleas and legal maneuverings have kept those VECO-related issues in the news for months. According to documents filed by U.S. attorneys to outline their case, the investigation had been in the works for more than two years before the raids. It was in the summer of 2004 that an unnamed lobbyist with ties to Anderson approached a confidential source working undercover for the FBI with a scheme to bribe Anderson, the documents say. The confidential source's "efforts at the time were directed to other, unrelated investigative matters," the DOJ documents said. It did not specify whether those matters involved VECO. The charges against Anderson accuse him of using his position as a legislator, including the chairmanship of the Administrative Regulations Review, to benefit Cornell Companies, a Texas-based firm which operates private prisons. In Alaska Cornell was seeking state approval to build a private prison and a juvenile psychiatric treatment facility, as well as regulatory changes to help its Alaska operations, which include a string of halfway houses around the state. The court documents allege that Anderson pressured state officials, such as former Department of Corrections Commissioner Mark Antrim, to benefit Cornell. He also advocated for Cornell at a public meeting in Anchorage, but said he was there not on the company's behalf but as chair of the regulatory review committee. Cornell is not accused of any wrongdoing, federal and Cornell officials have previously told the Empire. Prosecutors said they expect to take a week to present their case.

June 19, 2007 KTUU TV
New details are emerging in the government's corruption probe against former state Rep. Tom Anderson as attorneys prepare for his trial Monday. The government has filed a trial brief laying out who is involved, how the pitch was made and the meetings and actions it says Anderson took. Anderson's attorney wouldn't comment on the details, but said he is outraged at the inclusion of what appear to be references to Anderson's wife, Sen. Lesil McGuire. The brief also makes it clear that other, unrelated investigations were underway when the federal government's unnamed source was approached to participate in a bribery scheme. Based on court records and sources close to the investigation, Channel 2 News believes the confidential source who allegedly recorded every move is former lobbyist Frank Prewitt. Prewitt worked for Texas-based Cornell Companies, a private firm looking to open a private prison in Alaska and a juvenile treatment facility in Anchorage. The company also runs halfway houses throughout the state. Anderson is accused of taking money from the government source on behalf of Cornell in exchange for official acts. Another lobbyist, Bill Bobrick, has already entered a guilty plea in connection with the scheme. He is expected to testify at Anderson's trial. In the trial brief, prosecutors cite a recording in which Bobrick tries to convince the informant the scheme was worth the money, suggesting Cornell would have two legislators working for them in Juneau because of Anderson's romantic involvement with another lawmaker. "Cornell would get two legislators," Bobrick is quoted as saying. "You know, chair of labor and commerce, and chair of judiciary ... That's the minimum we're going to have next year." At the time, Anderson was dating Rep. Lesil McGuire, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee. The couple went on to wed during the summer of 2005. In its filing, the government goes on to cite a recorded conversation between an unnamed state representative and the Cornell lobbyist. In it, the representative talks about contacting a state commissioner overseeing regulations Cornell needed help with. "Tom called me on the phone and he said, ‘I don't care what you are doing, I need you to get on the phone right now ...'" states the brief. The representative said Anderson asked for calls to be placed to the lobbyist and the Cornell representative and goes on to say, "I was on the phone because of Tom." During late 2004 and early 2005, Anderson joined subcommittees key to Cornell's interests and, according to the government, pushed Cornell's agendas without disclosing he was being paid. Anderson's attorney, Paul Stockler, maintains Anderson's innocence and said they are ready to clear his name at trial. Stockler also added that no allegations have been made against Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire, and there is no indication she has done anything inappropriate. There has been no public link between the prison case and other corruption cases, including the VECO bribery claims. However, VECO Corp. and Cornell do have a relationship -- in 2003, VECO and Cornell Companies teamed up on trying to get a private prison built in Whittier.

June 19, 2007 AP
State Rep. Vic Kohring said today he will resign after nearly 13 years of public service so he can concentrate on defending himself against federal bribery and extortion charges. He told The Associated Press that he will leave office July 19. "I take the job as a legislator very seriously, but my life is on the line, so I have chosen to defend myself so I can prevail in court," Kohring said. "It's a very, very ugly decision to have to make, frankly." Kohring said he plans to disclose his decision during a luncheon at the Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce later today, as he previously announced. "The easy route would be not face the people who supported me and not to face those people who oppose me," said Kohring, a Wasilla Republican. "I could just issue a press release and be done with it, but that’s not the right way to do it." Kohring and two former state lawmakers were indicted May 4 on bribery and extortion charges related to alleged dealings with Anchorage- based oil field services company Veco Corp. Also charged were former Republican Reps. Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch. All have pleaded not guilty and have had their original July trial dates pushed back to the fall. Federal prosecutors accuse the lawmakers of selling their votes to Veco officials while they were considering a rewrite of the state’s petroleum production tax, which could have levied a 20 percent tax on profits and a 20 percent credit on capital investments.

June 17, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., heard evidence last month about the expansion of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' Girdwood home in 2000 and other matters connecting Stevens to the oil services company Veco Inc. As the far-reaching federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics spreads to Washington, Stevens family friend and neighbor Bob Persons was ordered to appear before a grand jury in Washington on May 25. The government directed him to produce documents related to the work on Stevens' Girdwood house, especially to work that might have been performed by Veco and contractors who were hired or supervised by Veco. Another close associate of Stevens, Anchorage businessman Bob Penney, testified two weeks ago before the federal grand jury in Anchorage that has been gathering evidence in the corruption cases. The house expansion project, first reported in the Daily News on May 29, more than doubled the size of the home. The Stevenses had asked Persons, who lives above the Double Musky restaurant he owns in Girdwood, to help them oversee the addition while they were in Washington. The existence of the Washington grand jury investigation is the strongest indication to date that Stevens himself has become a subject of the wide-ranging federal probe that surfaced with FBI raids on state legislative offices last August. Former State Sen. Ben Stevens, Ted Stevens' son, was among the legislators whose offices were searched. Ben Stevens has denied wrongdoing. The FBI said at the time that it also had executed a search warrant in Girdwood, among other places, although the location of that search has never been disclosed. VECO GUILTY PLEAS: The investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section has so far led to guilty pleas by former Veco chief executive Bill Allen, former Veco vice president Rick Smith and private-prison lobbyist Bill Bobrick. Four current or former state legislators have been indicted and are awaiting trial on corruption charges, three for taking bribes or attempting to take bribes from Veco, the other for taking bribes from the private prison interest. How the Girdwood home fits in with the broader investigation, or what possible crimes are being investigated, is not clear.

May 29, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
The FBI and a federal grand jury have been investigating an extensive remodeling project at U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' home in Girdwood that involved the top executive of Veco Corp. in the hiring of at least one of the key contractors. Three contractors who worked on the project said in recent interviews with the Daily News that the FBI asked them to turn over their records from the job. One said he was called to testify about the project before a federal grand jury in Anchorage in December. The remodeling work, which more than doubled the size of the house, occurred in the summer and fall of 2000. The four-bedroom home, about two blocks from the day lodge parking lot at the Alyeska ski resort, is Stevens' official residence in Alaska. An old friend of Stevens in Girdwood, longtime Double Musky restaurant owner Bob Persons, has been questioned by the FBI about the project. He monitored the remodeling for Stevens and his wife while they were in Washington, D.C. "I will be testifying. That's all I can tell you," Persons said in a brief interview last week. "It is an ongoing investigation that I'm not supposed to talk to or see anybody about it." Persons would not elaborate on whether he meant that he would testify before a grand jury, at a trial, or both, or for whom. He said he believed Stevens did nothing wrong. Ted Stevens and his wife, Catherine, declined to answer questions about the Girdwood house. In a prepared statement issued by his office, Stevens said: "While I understand the public's interest in the ongoing federal investigation, it has been my long-standing policy to not comment on such matters. Therefore, I will withhold comment at this time to avoid even the appearance that I might influence this investigation." The FBI and the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, which are in the midst of a broad investigation of corruption in Alaska, would not comment. "This is a pending investigation and we're just not going to confirm or deny any aspect, any rumors, any allegations out there," said FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez.

May 7, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Allen, a welder who took the Veco Corp. from a small Kenai oil-field company to a billion-dollar international contractor and a major political force, pleaded guilty Monday to bribing at least four Alaska legislators, including former Senate President Ben Stevens. In a plea bargain with the U.S.Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, Allen and Rick Smith, Veco’s vice president for community and government affairs, each pleaded guilty to three identical felony charges — bribery and two counts of conspiracy. Both men accepted responsibility for making more than $400,000 in illegal payments and benefits to public officials or their families. More than half the money went to Stevens in the form of phony “consulting” fees, the government charged. Stevens, son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, has not been charged. He was named in the plea documents as “State Senator B,” but his identity was unmistakable. In return for special consideration at sentencing, Allen, 70, and Smith, 62, agreed to cooperate in the ongoing federal investigation. The government also promised to not seek charges against Allen’s son Mark, a Veco official, his daughter Tammy Kerrigan, or any other relative. The federal plea bargain doesn’t bar state prosecutors from seeking additional charges against Allen and Smith. Both men acknowledged violating state campaign finance laws in their plea. The plea deals were formalized in secret last week and opened in U.S. District Court Monday morning in unannounced back-to-back hearings before Judge John Sedwick, each lasting about 40 minutes.

May 6, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
The chairman of a key state House committee was deposed and Alaska's most important oil tax law fell under new scrutiny Saturday as lawmakers reacted to the arrest of one current and two former legislators on federal corruption charges. Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, will lose his chairmanship of the Special Committee on Oil and Gas, House leaders said. Kohring was charged with selling his vote on oil taxes last year to oil field services company Veco. The House committee had an important early role in shaping gas pipeline legislation this year. Republican majority leaders placed Kohring in charge of the committee this session, even though he was one of six legislators whose offices were raided by the FBI in a Veco-related probe last fall. Kohring appeared before a federal magistrate Friday in handcuffs to face charges of bribery, extortion and conspiracy. Also appearing were two Republican colleagues from last year's legislative session, Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau. All three pleaded not guilty. In detailed indictments, the three were charged with selling their votes and influence over other legislators for money and jobs during the 2006 legislative session. The legislation in question was an overhaul of the state's oil production tax, which pays for most of state government and adds to the Alaska Permanent Fund. Veco wanted to keep the oil tax low and also was pressing for construction of a gas pipeline from which it would profit, according to the indictment.

May 5, 2007 Alaska Daily News
Three more state legislators were arrested on federal corruption charges Friday, accused of selling their votes and influence to the oil field services company Veco Corp. and its chief executive, Bill Allen, during last year’s debate on oil taxes. Acting on felony indictments brought by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, federal agents arrested the three Republicans in Juneau — one a sitting legislator, Rep. Vic Kohring of Wasilla, and two others who left office in January, Reps. Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau. Each was brought in handcuffs before a federal magistrate judge, and each pleaded not guilty to bribery, extortion and conspiracy and was released on $20,000 bond. The charges carry penalties of between five and 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The indictments, unsealed with the arrests, describe a conspiracy among the legislators, Veco, Allen and Veco's vice president for government affairs, Rick Smith, to steer an oil-production tax bill favored by the industry through the Legislature last year. The bill was seen as a prerequisite for the North Slope oil producers to agree to build a natural gas pipeline. Ultimately, Veco, Allen and Smith wanted to see a gas line built that would help the company through contracts with the oil companies, the indictments charged. Veco, Allen and Smith were neither charged nor directly named in the indictments. But “Company A,” “Company CEO” and “Company VP” are described in long passages in the indictments, and those descriptions point unmistakably to them. Veco’s attorney, Amy Menard, confirmed the identifications. Allen’s lawyer, Bob Bundy of Anchorage, wouldn’t comment on what might be in store for his client. “Veco and Bill have cooperated completely with the government’s investigation,” Bundy said. WADS OF CASH The charges describe the three lawmakers seeking money, jobs or both for themselves or family members, and Veco willing to oblige. Much of the activity described in the charges took place in Veco’s suite in Juneau’s Baranof Hotel, Room 604, during the 2006 legislative session. Direct quotes attributed in the indictments to the three legislators and to Allen and Smith suggest the FBI conducted some form of electronic surveillance in the room and perhaps on telephones as well. Kott’s lawyer, Jim Wendt, said the room contained a hidden camera. He learned about the surveillance when the prosecutors offered to make a deal with him. They revealed snippets of their evidence, including video from inside a Baranof room, Wendt said. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez wouldn’t confirm whether agents used wiretaps or hidden cameras. A Baranof employee on Friday said the hotel would not discuss the use of the suite.

May 4, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Former Alaska state legislators Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch have been indicted by a federal grand jury on several counts of extortion, bribery, wire fraud and mail fraud. Kott was arrested at home in Juneau around 9 a.m. Friday, a spokesman for the FBI said. Weyhrauch was arrested later in the morning. Both are being held in the federal courthouse in Juneau. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez would not say if additional arrests are coming. "It’s a continuing investigation," he said. Some of the charges against Kott and Weyhrauch involve the Legislature’s consideration last year of a natural gas pipeline and a petroleum production tax proposed by former Gov. Frank Murkowski. Kott, a former House speaker from Eagle River, is accused of seeking and accepting bribes to push positions favored by executives of a company that is not named in the indictment. Weyhrauch traded votes for the promise of a job, according to the charges. The company is referred to throughout the indictment as "Company A" and is described as a privately owned company that "provided services to the energy, resources and process industries" and "took an active interest" in the Legislature. The indictment also refers to a prison in Barbados the company was constructing. That description matches Veco Inc., a huge Anchorage-based oil-field services company that has been active in lobbying the Legislature for years. Kott lost his Eagle River seat in the state House in last year’s Republican primary. Weyhrauch, an attorney, did not seek re-election to his House seat representing Juneau. Both left office in January. Both were among the six lawmakers whose offices were raided by federal agents in August as part of an investigation into corruption. Kott was scheduled to be arraigned in Juneau at 1:30 p.m. today. The indictment covers a period from September 2005 until the end of August 2006. The Legislature considered the pipeline and oil tax proposals during regular and special sessions during that time. Lawmakers in both political parties reacted to the indictment today with disgust.

April 17, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
High up in City Hall on Friday, the Anchorage Assembly talked for hours about road projects and budgets and the kind of things you usually don't sit through unless you're paid to be there. Listening from the back of the room was lobbyist Bill Bobrick. Four months after Bobrick was linked to a federal bribery case that led to the indictment of Anchorage state Rep. Tom Anderson, he remains one of the busier lobbyists of the city. He's got to earn a living, he says to friends and acquaintances. He also tells them his role in the bribery case is about to get bigger. "My understanding, real clear, is that Bobrick's going to go in and plead guilty here real quick to a felony," said Assemblyman Dan Coffey. Coffey said Bobrick told him just that after a late March town hall meeting at a local school. Mayor Mark Begich, who was best man at Bobrick's wedding in 1998 and has known him for more than 20 years, said the longtime city lobbyist told him something less precise: "He told me he was going to plead. I don't know what that means. And honestly, I didn't dive into it. That's an issue that, again, doesn't relate to the city." Bobrick hasn't been charged with a crime. He fits the description of an unnamed conspirator described in the indictment of Anderson, who is accused of money laundering, bribery and extortion. Public records show Bobrick as owner of a company that federal prosecutors say was set up to funnel Anderson bribes. In exchange, Anderson helped promote in the Legislature a private prison and juvenile treatment facility, the indictment says. Anderson left office when his term expired in January. Bobrick declined to be interviewed for this story.

January 14, 2007 Juneau Empire
Federal prosecutors who accused Rep. Tom Anderson of bribery and other crimes say he also used another, unidentified legislator to carry out illegal acts. While Anderson was advocating for Cornell Companies, a Texas-based developer of private prisons, he also tried help Cornell win approval for a juvenile mental-health treatment center in Alaska. To do that, he got another legislator to try to pressure the state Department of Health and Social Services to grant a certificate of need for Cornell's project, according to the Anderson indictment. In competition with Cornell was North Star Behavioral Health Systems, an Alaska nonprofit that already had operations in Anchorage and Palmer. It was supported by a number of influential legislators, including Senate Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, and Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, president-elect of the Senate. The indictment says Anderson, an Anchorage Republican, prevailed upon an "elected public official" to lobby for the certificate. Documents obtained by the Empire show that Kohring was the only legislator who wrote a letter in support of the certificate during the time frame described in the indictment. Kohring did not return repeated phone calls last week. In Kohring's letter to Health and Human Services officials, he wrote, "It has come to my attention" that Cornell was seeking a certificate of need for its project, but he didn't say how it had come to his attention. Anderson's attorney, Paul Stockler, denied that the unnamed elected official was Kohring. The only other letter to the state on behalf of the certificate was written by Rep. John Harris, now speaker of the House of Representatives. Harris said he did not recall how his letter came to be written. "I write letters for a lot of people," he said. Harris said he didn't recall talking with Anderson about the matter. "He and I were never close," Harris said. Prosecutors say in the indictment that they have tape recordings of Anderson and the "elected public official." In them, the official allegedly confirms that he contacted the department commissioner at Anderson's request. Anderson already had been pushing Cornell projects. Bringing in six-term representative Kohring or Harris, then the Finance Committee chairman, may have increased Cornell's chances. The company dropped the project, however.

January 9, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Indicted state legislator Tom Anderson wants to delay the start of his trial so his lawyer can better prepare. In a court motion filed Friday, Anderson's attorney, Paul Stockler, wrote that he is still working his way through 20 discs "which contain hours of audio and video recordings involving the defendant taken over an extended period of time." The trial is now scheduled for Feb. 12, and Stockler said he wants to delay it until April 23. The three-page motion provides the first mention of video recordings in the FBI corruption investigation of Anderson and other legislators. Anderson was indicted by a federal grand jury in December on seven felony counts including money laundering, extortion and bribery. The indictment contains a number of references to recorded conversations between Anderson and two others: a local-government lobbyist for a private corrections company and a confidential source who had worked for the same company. The indictment doesn't specify whether any of the recordings were on video. The indictment describes a conspiracy that began in July 2004 in which the lobbyist set up a shell company that existed to launder money to Anderson. The FBI gave money to the informant, who passed it on to Anderson and the lobbyist in exchange for Anderson pushing the interests of the corrections company. Anderson received less than $13,000, according to the indictment. Anderson has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

December 25, 2006 Juneau Empire
In 2004, a privately owned Texas prison firm had a problem in Alaska. Its chain of halfway houses that took in prisoners under contract with the state Corrections Department was struggling. It had facilities in Fairbanks, Bethel, Nome and several Anchorage locations. Low occupancy rates were hurting profits, especially in Anchorage. Cornell Companies, the Houston-based owner of the facilities, also had some top lobbyists on their payroll, including a former commissioner of corrections for the state. Also on its payroll was a key state legislator, Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The lobbyists' affiliation was legal, but Anderson's wasn't, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court for Alaska earlier this month. Anderson was arrested Dec. 7 on charges of bribery, extortion and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted on all counts, he faces a possible sentence of 20 years or more in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Anderson was unavailable for comment for this article. On federal wiretaps, two Cornell lobbyists were heard discussing efforts to bribe Anderson, who they said was willing to be "our boy in Juneau" in exchange for cash payments, according to the Department of Justice indictment. Cornell, whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, reported revenues of $346 million last year. It was not identified in the indictment. Company spokeswoman Christine Taylor confirmed the company had been notified of the Anderson investigation by the Department of Justice. "We've been notified of the indictment, but no wrongdoing has been alleged," she said. The indictment said the company was unaware of the actions of its lobbyists. A confidential FBI source had at various times been a lobbyist for the company. He used funds provided by the FBI, not the company, for the bribes. He didn't notify Cornell because of "the undercover nature of the operation," the Justice Department said. "The corrections company was not implicated in the corrupt activities that are alleged in the indictment," according to the Department of Justice press release announcing the arrest. Tom Anderson: Anderson worked unsuccessfully to help Cornell expand its private prison and juvenile detention operations into Alaska but was more successful helping out the company's halfway houses. That effort, not previously reported, is detailed in the indictment and in Alaska Department of Corrections documents obtained under the state Public Records Act. When Cornell's halfway houses were struggling, the company lobbyist approached Anderson, who allegedly agreed to try to influence the Department of Corrections. In exchange, Anderson apparently received thousands of dollars in cash from the lobbyist. On Oct. 20, 2004, Anderson wrote a letter to then-Corrections Commissioner Marc Antrim, urging more use of the halfway houses and requesting a personal meeting. "Since private contractors only get paid for occupied beds, severe underutilization creates serious budget challenges when beds are left empty," Anderson wrote to Antrim on legislative letterhead. In the letter, Anderson also noted that he was a member of the House Finance Committee's Corrections Subcommittee. The indictment alleges that a lobbyist wrote the letter for Anderson. On. Oct. 29, 2004, Antrim met with Anderson, Department of Corrections records show. What happened in the meeting? "I'm not able to comment on that," Antrim said in a phone call to his Juneau home. He is no longer with the department. Antrim declined to say why he could not comment. There are no indications that Antrim is under investigation. However, prosecutors sometimes ask potential witnesses not to speak publicly about matters that might come up in court. Federal investigators obtained bank records showing that a Cornell lobbyist on Oct. 21, 2004, wrote a check to Anderson's consulting business from Pacific Publishing, a company created by another Cornell lobbyist. The check was purportedly for writing public policy articles for a Pacific Publishing Web site. The indictment alleges that there was no web site and that the money was laundered through Pacific Publishing to deceive the Alaska Public Offices Commission. On the wiretaps, Anderson was overheard acknowledging to the lobbyist that that payment and others were "not really for your Web thing," the indictment states. The Department of Justice called Pacific Publishing a "sham corporation" formed for the sole purpose of disguising bribe money. In the 2004 fiscal year, Cornell received $12.1 million in state payments for its halfway houses, $12.3 in 2005 and $12.4 in 2006, according to Richard Schmitz, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. Alaska state law bars a legislator from accepting money in exchange for official acts, but courts have found the state Constitution's free speech provisions make prosecuting legislators for such actions difficult. Anderson has been charged under federal law, however. Federal investigators continued their investigation of Anderson for more than two years after the Cornell lobbyist investigation, during which time Anderson was re-elected to the House of Representatives. The U.S. Attorney for Alaska did not say why it took so long to indict Anderson. Anderson chose not to run for re-election this year and leaves office in January after serving two terms in the House.

December 9, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
State Rep. Tom Anderson pleaded not guilty Friday to a series of federal charges accusing him of selling his legislative office for $12,828 in bribes from a lobbyist representing private prison interests. Anderson, a 39-year-old Republican who has represented Muldoon's District 19 since he was elected in 2002, was ordered freed Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Roberts on an unsecured $10,000 bond after his arrest Thursday by FBI agents. Roberts said Anderson could travel to Mexico on a previously scheduled vacation next week with his wife, Republican state Rep. Lesil McGuire, who was elected to the state Senate in November, and their infant son. The 18-page indictment against Anderson said the lobbyist was secretly recorded July 21, 2004, boasting that for a price, Anderson would be "our boy in Juneau." A week later, the same lobbyist was recorded telling a confidential informant, "If I was a Soviet spy and I was looking for a legislator to recruit, (Anderson) would be the one I'd get." Anderson "needs the money," the lobbyist said. The government didn't charge the lobbyist. He is identified only by the letter "A," but the facts in the case point to Bill Bobrick of Anchorage, who represented Cornell Companies, a private prison firm Outside. Bobrick didn't return messages left on his home and cell phones Friday, and his business number wasn't working. On Thursday, before Anderson's arrest, Bobrick said in an interview that he was getting out of the lobbying business and was in the process of handing off his clients. He cited "health issues" as the reason. Anderson, who did not seek re-election this year and formally leaves office next month, is the first legislator charged with corruption in office since two state senators faced charges in the early 1980s. One, George Hohman, was convicted of bribery in 1981, while the other, Ed Dankworth, successfully appealed his 1982 conflict-of-interest charges and never faced trial. Anderson's seven-count indictment accuses him of going into league with Lobbyist A to promote a private prison somewhere in Alaska and a private juvenile treatment facility in Anchorage. In return for the money, it said Anderson got himself appointed to legislative committees with jurisdiction over prisons and treatment, lobbied other elected officials, agreed to align his votes with the correction company's interests, wrote letters and publicly spoke on behalf of company projects. Anderson disguised the source of the money in his reports to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the indictment charged. A second private prison advocate secretly worked with the government to record conversations of the lobbyist and Anderson. The informant, identified only as "CS-1," used money provided by the FBI in the payoffs. The private prison company was identified only as "Corrections Company" in the charges, but the facts squarely match Cornell Companies Inc. of Houston, Texas, a publicly traded corporation with facilities in 17 states. Cornell operates six halfway houses in Alaska from its buyout of Anchorage-based Allvest Corp. With partners Veco and Allvest founder Bill Weimer, Cornell failed to win public support for private prison proposals in Anchorage, Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The proposals were all highly controversial in the communities, though they often sailed through legislative committees. During a House Finance Committee hearing May 9, 2004, Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, said the effort was corrupting the state. "What I see, over and over, is repeated sole-source, pre-arranged, heavy-money deals that go to specific contractors. ... It's never been a clean, competitive proposal," Croft said at the time, the only member of the committee to object. "We are going to see somebody indicted and probably imprisoned over this series of proposals." A prepared statement from the Justice Department released Friday said the corrections company was never told about the payments to Anderson "due to the undercover nature of the operation." It said the company "was not implicated in the corrupt activities that are alleged in the indictment." Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for Cornell in Houston, said, "There's nothing that we knew of, or were aware of, until this indictment was issued." Anderson arrived for his arraignment in federal court Friday wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit with the word "PRISONER" across his back. His legs were shackled as he rose for the judge alongside his defense attorney, Jeffrey Feldman of Anchorage. The hearing lasted 19 minutes. His trial was set for Feb. 12. If the government was making a point to other potential defendants in its ongoing investigation into corruption, the message was tough. Nicholas Marsh, a trial attorney from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., told the court the charges carried penalties ranging from a maximum of five years and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to a maximum of 20 years and $500,000 for each of three money laundering charges. Anderson was also accused of two counts of extortion (20 years and $250,000) and one count of bribery (10 years and $250,000). The activities alleged in the indictment took place long before the coordinated raids of Aug. 31, when the FBI searched the offices of 10 percent of the 60-member Legislature. Anderson's office wasn't among them, and it's unclear how his case is related. Marsh, assistant U.S. attorney Joseph Bottini and FBI agent Mary Beth Kepner, a leader of the corruption probe, left quickly after the arraignment and declined to answer questions. The conspiracy alleged in the indictment began in July 2004 and continued through the following March. It said that Lobbyist A set up a shell company called Pacific Publishing that existed solely to launder money to Anderson. The company would pay Anderson to write articles about politics that would be published on its Web site, but Anderson was paid without ever scribbling a line. CS-1 paid Lobbyist A $24,000 in three payments. The cover story was that the money was for advertising on the Web site, but they agreed the money was really for Anderson's pocket, with "A" taking a sizable cut. The indictment said CS-1 had worked for the corrections company as a lobbyist "at various times." The identity closely matches Frank Prewitt, a former Alaska corrections commissioner appointed by Gov. Wally Hickel and who later went to work for Cornell. In an e-mail exchange with the Daily News on Friday, Prewitt suggested he was the source, though he stopped short of confirming it. "At this time it is inappropriate for me to talk about the voluntary role that I and others may have played in the Anderson investigation," Prewitt wrote. "Over the next year I believe you will find that this was only the beginning of the end of a sad, but healthy chapter in Alaska history. My prayers are with Representative Anderson and his family during this difficult time for all." The first recorded conversation cited in the indictment occurred July 16, 2004, when the lobbyist suggested to the confidential source that they "try with (Cornell) to help out Tom Anderson." Five days later, the lobbyist told the source that Cornell should hire Anderson through him. Rather than report Cornell, with its interest in legislation and other government action, as the source of the money, Anderson said he was paid for writing for the Pacific Publishing Web site. Anderson himself was recorded Aug. 17, 2004, telling the confidential source: "APOC only needs to know (Bobrick) pays me and then we're all safe." The source paid the lobbyist the first $8,000 Aug. 19, 2004, the indictment charged. Out of that, Anderson received $3,328, which he deposited Aug. 23 into the account of his personal consulting firm, Alaska Strategic Consultants. In a recorded call Oct. 20, 2004, the source told Anderson he had prepared the next $8,000 payment and planned to pass it on to the lobbyist. "Awesome. Awesome. I appreciate it," Anderson is quoted as saying. Anderson received a $3,500 advance from that payment, the indictment charged. The source made his last $8,000 payment on Dec. 21, 2004. Anderson got $4,000. But late in the scheme, the indictment alleged, Anderson was showing signs of unhappiness over splitting the money with the lobbyist. According to excerpts of recordings, the confidential source appeared at first to encourage the disaffection, saying it wasn't the lobbyist who was speaking out and voting for Cornell, but rather Anderson. "I know," Anderson said. But then the source suggested the lobbyist might become "estranged" if he were cut out of the deal. The source thought that he could make a separate payment direct to Anderson. "If there's a way you can think of that, that would be nice," Anderson replied. The source obliged, handing Anderson a $2,000 check Dec. 21, 2004. The indictment said the check was made payable to Tom Anderson.

December 8, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
A federal grand jury has indicted an Alaska lawmaker on charges of extortion, conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering, federal officials said Friday. A seven-count indictment was returned against state Rep. Thomas T. Anderson, R-Anchorage, on Wednesday, assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher said. Anderson was arrested Thursday, and was being held at the city jail. The indictment charges Anderson with two counts of extortion, one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy, and three counts of money laundering in connection with the use of a sham corporation to hide the identity of the bribery payments, Fisher said in a prepared statement. The indictment also alleges that Anderson solicited and received money from an FBI confidential source in exchange for Anderson's agreement to perform official acts to further a business interest represented by the confidential source. The indictment alleges from July 2004 to March 2005, Anderson and an individual described in only as "Lobbyist A" solicited and received $26,000 in payments from an FBI confidential source in exchange for Anderson's agreement to act on his behalf in the legislature, according to the statement released from the U.S. Department of Justice. Anderson and the unnamed lobbyist created a sham corporation to conceal the existence and origin of the payments, and used the corporation to funnel a portion of the $26,000 to Anderson, the indictment says. The FBI's source was a consultant for a private corrections company located outside the state of Alaska, and Anderson and the lobbyist initiated contact with that confidential source in order to solicit bribery payments, the indictment alleges. The source, however, never communicated any information to the corrections company due to the undercover nature of the operation. The corrections company was not implicated, federal officials said. If convicted, Anderson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine on the extortion counts; a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $500,000 fine on each of the money laundering counts; a maximum penalty of 10 years and a $250,000 fine on the bribery count; and a maximum penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy count. Anderson was scheduled to be arraigned Friday, assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph W. Bottini said. It was not immediately known if he had hired a lawyer. Anderson is married to former state Rep. and now state Sen.-elect Lesil McGuire, who did not return messages left on her cells phones Friday. Anderson, who was elected to the state House four years ago, did not seek re-election. He leaves office this month.

October 9, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
When FBI agents searched the Wasilla office of Rep. Vic Kohring on Aug. 31, they weren't just looking for documents related to Veco Corp., its executives and ties to lawmakers. They also wanted information about developer Marc Marlow as well as the state Department of Corrections. That element of the ongoing FBI investigation emerged last week when Kohring's attorney, Wayne Anthony Ross, provided a copy of the search warrant to the Daily News, along with the list of items taken. Those documents, though lacking detail or context, suggest that the probe is wide-ranging and not focused on any one company, issue or individual. No one has been charged in the investigation, and federal authorities have declined to discuss it except to say that it continues. The lead prosecutors are from the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., which often handles government corruption cases. In all, offices of six lawmakers have been searched, along with Veco offices and additional undisclosed locations. Other lawmakers whose offices weren't searched have said they were interviewed by the FBI. The warrant also sought all correspondence between Kohring and the Alaska Department of Corrections. Ross said Kohring was questioned by the FBI about efforts to build a private prison in Whittier. "He indicated it was a facility that Cornell was hoping to build in the past and that's apparently all they asked about that," Ross said. Cornell Cos. had teamed with Veco in the private prison endeavor, which ultimately died last year after the city of Whittier dropped its support. Along with those of Kohring and Stevens, FBI agents searched offices of Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage; Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome; Rep. Pete Kott, R-Eagle River; and Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R- Juneau. Messages left for them were not returned. Kohring is the only one of the six still facing an election battle in November. Kott lost in the primary, Stevens and Weyhrauch aren't running again and the others aren't up this year. What's known: • Dozens of FBI agents executed about two dozen search warrants Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, though in some cases individuals agreed to the search. • Six legislative offices were searched, and so was Veco Corp. Searches were conducted in Anchorage, Juneau, Eagle River, Wasilla, Willow and Girdwood. The office of Senate President Ben Stevens was then searched a second time, on Sept. 18. • One search warrant, provided by Sen. Donny Olson, said the FBI was looking for "any and all documents" related to Veco, four of its executives and two political pollsters, as well as information on Olson Air Service, among other matters. When agents searched Stevens' office, they seized materials related to controversial fisheries organizations. In the search of Rep. Vic Kohring's office, agents also sought information on developer Marc Marlow and on the state Department of Corrections. • The lead prosecutors on the case are from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., which handles public corruption cases. • No one has been charged. What's not known: • Perhaps the biggest of the many unanswered questions is this: Who or what is being targeted? • Authorities also won't say how many FBI agents or prosecutors are working on the investigation, when it began, when it might end or how they are proceeding.

September 24, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
Last month, state Rep. Tom Anderson testified before the Anchorage Assembly in favor of Wal-Mart's plan for two stores in his old neighborhood. Assembly chairman Dan Sullivan introduced him as Representative Anderson, but the lawmaker for Muldoon corrected him. He was there representing the home builders association, Anderson said. Anderson, who was a consultant before he was elected to the state House four years ago, has never stopped making money on the side as a paid adviser for clients who do business with state and local government. His dual role may have surprised the Assembly in August. But it would not have surprised some members of the Northeast Community Council, the neighborhood group that opposed the stores. They recall seeing Anderson at their meetings all though 2003. They assumed he was there as the local state legislator. But Anderson's state financial disclosure form, filed the following year, revealed he was also working as a $10,000 consultant on community councils and local government for the oil field services and construction company Veco. "We are all going, 'This is so bogus,' " said council president Peggy Robinson, who publicized Anderson's Veco connection in an unsuccessful bid to topple Anderson from his House seat in 2004. Now Anderson's role as a consultant to industry is coming under scrutiny again, following last month's FBI searches of six legislative offices seeking information on legislators' links to Veco. A rule insisting on proper qualifications would probably have done little to crimp Veco's employment of legislators. Stevens and Anderson were both consultants before they ran for office. Arrangements between Veco and two other lawmakers show up in state disclosure forms dating back to 2002. One was for a boat rental from a fisherman, one was for legal work from a lawyer. In 2002, Veco paid $17,600 to use a boat owned by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer. The contract came in the summer before Seaton, a commercial fisherman who owns several boats, was first elected. He said his fish tender just happened to be available in upper Cook Inlet when Veco needed a standby safety vessel during a short oil rig construction job. The legal payments went to then-Sen. Robin Taylor, who got into a jam with critics in his home town of Wrangell over that work. Taylor, a lawyer and longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reported being paid $15,700 for legal work by Veco in 2000, $19,300 in 2001 and $16,800 in 2002. He also served as city attorney for Wrangell during that period. Critics accused Taylor of hiding his Veco ties when the city council considered taking up a private prison project in 2001. Veco had been part of the consortium whose prison plan had just been turned down in Kenai. Taylor insisted he had disclosed his Veco ties on state forms and didn't need to announce them. Taylor retired from the Senate and his private legal practice in 2003 and is now head of the state marine highway system. He was among the current and former legislators known to have been interviewed by the FBI in the current investigation. Taylor said last week that he had never been lobbied by Veco over the prison. As far as he knew, he said, Veco wasn't interested in a Wrangell prison. "It's a breach of attorney-client privilege, but I can tell you up front: That client never talked to me once about that project," Taylor said.

September 7, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
For two decades, oil man and political financier Bill Allen has been a familiar presence in the halls of the Alaska Capitol. But toward the end of this year's regular legislative session, the Veco chief executive may have taken that familiarity a step too far. Allen was watching the state House debate oil taxes on the next-to-last night of business in May when he began passing notes to legislators across the railing of the small spectator gallery, according to Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage. Rules say the public can pass notes through the front door to be delivered by a page. Direct engagement from the visitor gallery is forbidden once the speaker's gavel sounds. Crawford said he saw Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, carry several notes from Allen to other legislators. Anderson has received Veco campaign contributions and has also reported $30,000 in consulting contracts with the company since 2003. Several other legislators say their staff observed similar goings-on. "He was definitely directing traffic back there," Crawford said of Allen. Veco's role in Alaska's political process is under intense scrutiny now. Last week the FBI served search warrants on legislative offices and others seeking a wide range of information related to Allen and other Veco executives, including gifts to public officials. But much of Veco's influence, dating from the early 1980s, comes from sources in plain sight. This includes close to $1 million in state and federal campaign contributions over the past decade as well as consulting contracts with individual legislators. Veco's presence in Juneau is distinctive not just for its role in helping finance many campaigns but for the personal role played by Allen and several other company executives. Veco has hired top-drawer professional lobbyists in the past, as it did while pushing for a private prison between 1996 and 2002. But Allen, 69, is known for taking a personal hand in promoting his priorities, in a manner often described as gentlemanly rather than bullying. In 1996, the Legislature added a new twist -- anyone registering as a lobbyist was barred from giving campaign contributions outside his or her home district. The idea was to prevent favor-seeking lobbyists from working a building full of people they'd given money to. Allen spent a lot of time in the Capitol in 2002, pressing the Legislature to pay for a private prison in Whittier (Veco was teamed with a national prison company, Cornell, to build the project) and to authorize a property tax break for construction of a North Slope natural gas pipeline. Allen was in the Capitol so much that APOC ordered him to register as a lobbyist. Allen protested, saying business owners looking out for their own interests should not be treated like professional lobbyists who represent a variety of clients. Allen eventually complied, registering for 2002 and 2003 and reporting his hourly wage as $156.25. That meant he had to forgo writing campaign checks in those years. (Not that candidates were starved for Veco money: Other company officials gave more than $200,000 to state candidates in 2002 alone.)

September 1, 2006 Alaska Report
The FBI served four more search warrants today in its investigation of the relationship between lawmakers and oilfield services company VECO Corporation, an Anchorage-based oil field services and construction company whose executives are major contributors to political campaigns. Bill Allen, owner of VECO, and his firm, were involved in a renovation of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens' chalet in Girdwood in the recent past. The Associated Press is reporting that the search warrants seek "from the period of October 2005 to the present, any and all documents concerning, reflecting or relating to proposed legislation in the state of Alaska involving either the creation of a natural gas pipeline or the petroleum production tax." An Anchorage FBI spokesman says that about two dozen search warrants have been executed so far, including three today in Anchorage and one in Willow. No arrests have been made as of yet. AlaskaReport has learned that a staffer in one of the offices raided has been providing information to federal authorities. In an interview with KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Wev Shea, a former U.S. attorney for Alaska says he knows who created the climate that he alleges allowed corruption to flourish. "The Republican Party is going to rue the day in this state for allowing Randy Ruedrich (chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska) to remain as a chair. He's bringing this party down and it's bad." KTUU also interviewed Rep. Eric Croft. He says he saw this coming two years ago, during a legislative committee meeting concerning VECO’s pitch for a sole-source contract award for a private prison. "I said at the time, in 2004, on the Whittier proposal, someone's going to jail over this 'cause I could see how corrupt the process was," said Croft, D-Anchorage.

August 31, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
Federal agents swarmed legislative offices around the state Thursday, executing search warrants in a coordinated series of raids that appeared to target the longstanding relationship between the oil-field service company Veco and leading lawmakers. Above Anchorage’s 4th Avenue, FBI agents spent most of the afternoon behind the closed doors and drawn blinds of the fifth-floor offices of Senate President Ben Stevens and Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Cowdery, both Anchorage Republicans. Through slits in the blinds, one agent in Stevens’ office, wearing rubber gloves, could be seen packing away evidence in a container. In Juneau, tourists and residents were greeted with the extraordinary sight of FBI agents hauling out files form the Alaska State Capitol after searching offices there. After the FBI searched his Wasilla office and questioned him, Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, the chairman of the House Special Committee on Oil & Gas, said the investigation was focused on Veco. Other legislative offices known to have been searched Thursday included those of Reps. Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau, and Sen. Donny Olson of Nome. Kott, a former House speaker, and Weyhrauch are Republicans. Olson is the only Democrat in the group. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said federal agents executed about 20 search warrants Thursday, not all in legislative offices. The warrants were executed in Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla, Eagle River and Girdwood, he said. Ray Metcalfe, a former legislator and the founder of the independent Republican Moderate Party, said he has been trying to get the authorities interested in what he described as the “corrupt” relationship between Veco and the Republican-lead legislature, principally Ben Stevens. “I put all the stuff in front of federal prosecutors a year and a half ago,” Metcalfe said Thursday, clearly relishing the turn of events. “I laid hundreds of pages of detailed information alleging bribery, and I distributed it to federal authorities, I distributed it to the U.S. Attorney’s office, I distributed it to the (state attorney general’s) Office of Special Prosecutions, and we held a demonstration in front of the attorney general’s office that hardly anyone showed up for.” Metcalfe attempted to initiate a recall campaign against Stevens, but his effort was rejected by Lt. Gov. Loren Leman on legal grounds. After first announcing he’d run for re-election in November, Stevens changed his mind in June and opted to retire.Tamara Cook, a lawyer who heads the nonpartisan legal services division of the Legislature, said Thursday evening that she reviewed a couple of the search warrants at the request of legislators or aides upon whom they were served. The search warrants allowed the FBI to search computers and office files including financial records, she said. The warrants named Veco Corp., she said, but could not say whether Veco was a target or whether the investigation concerned oil taxes, its failed push to build a private prison in Alaska or something else.

July 1, 2005
In the closing days of the regular legislative session, Republican Sen. Gene Therriault of North Pole amended an elections bill to allow big corporate money into Alaska politics. Undeterred by the fact there had been no public notice or public hearing, Senate Republicans approved the change. But the state House balked, and the amendment was removed. A triumph for democracy, right?  So what's Therriault really trying to do? Simple. Alaska law does not allow corporations to make political contributions to candidates or groups. Therriault wants to change that because the Republican Party would get more corporate money than other parties. This is about nothing more than fattening the Republican Party's bank accounts. Would it? You bet. How do we know? Well, a court ruling allowed corporate contributions for a brief period in 2001, and the Republican Party mistakenly reported some of what it got: $25,000 from Veco, $12,000 from Cornell Companies Inc., $10,000 from Gray Line of Alaska, $8,000 from Philip Morris USA, $7,500 from Holland America and so on. Selfless giving? Hardly. Veco and Cornell wanted a private prison; Gray Line and Holland America didn't want a cruise ship tax; Phillip Morris didn't want higher tobacco taxes. You get the picture. Alaskans don't want big money in their state's politics. They've said so at the polls. But Gene Therriault doesn't care about that. He wants the dough for his own partisan purposes. Better keep an eye on him.

October 16, 2004 Salon
In any other election year, Alaska's conservative electorate could be expected to chill Democratic hopes of taking over a United States Senate seat held by a Republican incumbent. Republicans hold every statewide elected office, enjoying a powerful base of support from the dominant energy, fishery and development industries, as well as an ideological advantage among the state's many gun-toting libertarians and fundamentalist Christians.
But this year is not like any other election year in Alaska, principally because of what may well turn out to be a fateful mistake by Gov. Frank Murkowski when he ascended to his current office from the Senate two years ago. In an act of hubris that outraged critics across the political spectrum, the new governor appointed his daughter Lisa Murkoswki to succeed him in the Senate. In the Murkowski political clan, the father has become the daughter's weighty albatross, and vice versa. For the past several months, the governor and the senator have assiduously (and somewhat oddly) avoided public appearances together. For obvious reasons they would prefer not to remind anybody that they're related, at least not until after Election Day. Amazingly, the official biography on her Web site neglects to mention the existence of her father, the governor. But the most generous donors to Murkowski's Senate campaign seem well aware of her filial relationship to Alaska's most powerful public official. Major corporations and other special interests needing favors from the governor have poured money into his daughter's war chest. And perhaps not surprisingly, their generosity has coincided with favorable action by the governor. But for Lisa Murkowski, the truly big money has flowed in from Veco Corp., a major Anchorage construction firm. Veco is not only the largest single donor to the Republican senator but is regarded by many Alaskans as the most powerful company in their state. While its interests are broad and varied, from the oil industries to local construction, the Halliburton-like firm has an important potential stake in one of the state's most controversial projects: a private prison in the port town of Whittier that could ultimately cost the state more than $1 billion. Alaska currently rents space for more than 700 state prisoners at a privately run correctional facility in Arizona, under an arrangement that harms convicts' families, while draining money from the state. Pressure to ameliorate this situation has been growing. For several years, Cornell Companies of Texas, a major corporate prison operator, has proposed building a new privatized prison in Alaska. Their fortunes began to improve after they teamed up with Veco in 2002. Facing opposition from state correction officials, unions and local communities, Frank Murkowski declared his firm opposition to any private prison construction when he ran for governor in 2002. Since taking office, however, the senior Murkowski has gradually backed away from that position over the past year. Although Gov. Murkowski's aides said he still opposed the Veco-Cornell prison plan in the spring of 2003, he then turned around and told legislators that the issue still required "further study." This was a substantial victory for Veco and Cornell, whose executives insist their plan would be cheaper than building and operating new public prison space. By last April, Murkowski's aides were floating plans for a "compromise" that would allow construction of the privatized prison, financed by state bonds, if it met certain conditions imposed by state authorities. What caused the governor to change his strongly stated opposition to privatized prisons? He hasn't explained his shift yet. But in May 2003, a prominent Anchorage architect named Mark Pfeffer met with his aides to promote the Veco-Cornell prison project. Pfeffer had recently joined the prison consortium, and he had also signed on as treasurer for Lisa Murkowski's reelection campaign. Around that time, her father began to back away from his pledge to oppose private prisons, issuing a vague announcement that his administration would take a "fresh look" at the Veco-Cornell prison plan. Meanwhile, money from Veco and its lobbyists has flowed into Lisa Murkowski's campaign. The first $2,000 check from Veco chairman Bill Allen showed up on May 13, 2003, only days after the Anchorage Daily News reported the governor's shift on his project. Allen, who registered as a lobbyist in Anchorage to push the project, has given regularly and generously -- as have other Veco executives, whose total of $43,750 is Murkowski's largest single donation. Lobbyists from Patton Boggs, which represents Veco in promoting the prison deal, have given her an additional $12,000. The pattern appears plain enough. While the Murkowskis pretend not to know each other, the special interests that know them both have invested heavily in her campaign while awaiting his nod.

Alexander Youth Services Center, Alexander, Arkansas
(AKA Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center)
June 19, 2007 The Morning News
A new report identifying problems in the special education program at the former Alexander Youth Services Center -- some of which were previously identified in a 2005 study -- drew frustrated comments Monday from legislative panels that oversee the state's youth lockups. "It seems we're planning ourselves to death but we're not getting anything accomplished," said state Rep. Bobby Pierce, D-Sheridan, during a joint meeting of the House and Senate committees on children and youth. In a report released this month, the state Education Department cites about 50 practices at the facility, now known as the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center, that don't comply with state and federal regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The department has directed the Division of Youth Services to develop a plan of action for correcting the problems. Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, said that on visits to the facility in Saline County she has been "extremely unimpressed" with the educational practices she saw, which she said seemed to consist of youths playing on a computer. "Do we have any way of determining if they're really learning something, or if we're just letting a computer baby-sit them?" she asked. The House chairwoman, Rep. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, said a lack of sufficient information gathering is one of the problems highlighted in the report. Chesterfield said scrutiny is needed for the educational services the state provides to all youth in custody, not only those in need of special education. Scott Tanner, ombudsman coordinator for the state Public Defender Commission, testified that the Division of Youth Services has had chronic problems with its education system at least since 2000, the year he became an ombudsman. Education services at the facility are provided by Group 4 Securicor, the private company that took over operation of the facility in January. The state fired the facility's previous operator, Cornell Companies, in November after a state investigation found evidence that psychotropic drugs may have been administered improperly to some youths as a restraint. The facility also was investigated in 2005, after 17-year-old Lakeisha Brown died from a blood clot in her lungs two days after complaining to staff that she felt ill. Cornell was ordered to revamp some of its policies as a result of that investigation. Madison asked Monday whether it would be more appropriate for the education of youth in custody to be undertaken by the state rather than a private company. Education Department attorney Scott Smith said he did not believe it would. Trying to incorporate students in custody into the state's public education system would require compliance with numerous state and federal mandates that currently are waived, he said. "The reason I ask is, there's something wrong with the picture in my mind when you have state agencies ..... firmly committed to a free public education, and then we turn around and hire a private company to deliver that," Madison said. "I just have a hard time thinking that that's a good idea." Steve Jones, a former state representative who recently became deputy director of the Department of Health and Human Services, told the committee the Division of Youth Services is working on a plan to correct the problems. Rep. Dawn Creekmore, D-Hensley, noted that the division developed a plan of action previously, after a 2005 report cited problems with the facility's educational system. "It's time to quit putting plans of action on paper and time to bring something to the table, take some action, physical action, for improvement. These children are still here, and we're just letting them down continuously, year after year after year," she said. "It is children that the state Department of Education is all about, and it is children that DYS is all about," Chesterfield said. "Somewhere the bureaucratic -- we're not going to use the alliterative -- the bureaucratic stuff, if you will, has got to be overcome for the children." Jones assured the committees the division would achieve real results.

January 11, 2007 Arkansas News Bureau
The state Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to enter into a short-term contract with a company to operate the troubled Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility in Saline County, agency officials said Wednesday. The agency has signed a $4.5 million contract with G4S Youth Services in Richmond, Va., a division of the British-based Group 4 Securicor, for the company to operate the facility from Jan. 21 through June 30, DHHS spokeswoman Julie Munsell said. The contract is pending approval by the Department of Finance and Administration. At the end of the six-month period, the state will have the option of renewing the contract for an additional year, Munsell said. Munsell said no bids were taken because the agreement was reached under emergency procedures. The agency considered the situation an emergency because of safety and welfare concerns for the 143 youths at the facility, she said. The state fired Cornell Companies, the Pennsylvania-based company that previously ran the facility, in November after a state investigation indicated psychotropic drugs may have been administered improperly to some youths to restrain them. Munsell said Cornell is still at the site, but the state has been in charge since Nov. 3.

November 5, 2006 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
An advocacy group that has been monitoring Alexander Youth Services Center for months said Saturday that Arkansas isn’t meeting the mental health, education and special education needs of the children at the troubled facility as required by the U. S. Department of Justice and state law. Problems at the center are systemic, said Dana McClain, a senior attorney with the Disability Rights Center, a federally funded Little Rock nonprofit that assists disabled Arkansans. “We don’t think this is rehabilitation, and state law says it is supposed to be [for youthful offenders ]. I think it’s punishment,” she said. “I feel like these children are being set up to go to adult prison.” At some point, she said, the youthful offenders at the lockup will get out, “and you hope when they do they’ve got a better shot at being productive members of society.” A draft copy of the group’s lengthy report detailing “failures” at the center in Saline County was given to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Saturday — a day after the state unexpectedly ended its contract with Cornell Cos. Inc., a Houston company that ran the center for the past five years. An internal investigation found that employees were “inappropriately” drugging youthful offenders with psychotropic drugs to control bad behavior. The state was paying Cornell about $ 10 million annually. News about the forced medications, sometimes given without a doctor’s order, prompted some legislators and others to renew calls Friday to shut down the state’s largest lockup for youthful offenders. The Disability Rights Center report, which outlines about 50 problems, is expected to be released publicly later this week. McClain said her group will meet with the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday to discuss the findings. Monitors for Disability Rights have been making unannounced visits, as allowed by federal statute, to the center at least three times a month since March. “Under the contract these are things Cornell was responsible for providing,” McClain said. “I hope [Health and Human Services ] doesn’t just address that one issue [about the medication ]. This is a good time to do more because they are starting anew.” The agency has been responsive so far, McClain noted. Cornell, however, didn’t address some of the major concerns that Mc-Clain said she repeatedly talked to company employees about. Julie Munsell, Health and Human Services spokesman, said her agency has received a copy of the report but she declined to comment about the details until it is published and officials meet with the group’s representatives. Health and Human Services is the umbrella agency over the Youth Services Division, which now operates the youth lockup. In general, Munsell said, the state has made many strides since entering into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice in March 2003 after a federal investigation found civil rights violations in the delivery of mental-health care, education, fire safety and freedom of religious expression at the center. Still, more work is needed, particularly with the center’s education system, she acknowledged. “We do still struggle with education issues at Alexander, and we’ve been working with the Department of Education to improve those issues,” she said. “We will always strive to get to an ideal setting, but it will take us time to get there.” The Justice Department hasn’t visited the center since January. Over the years, the youths at the Alexander center have complained that employees kicked, slapped and even threatened them with death. Others killed themselves. One boy, known for days to be suicidal, was able to hang himself a few years ago with a bedsheet. An investigation later found that his guard didn’t check on him. Another boy hanged himself in the same cell just a few months later — just as the state hired Cornell to take over the facility and fix its problems. And last year, a 17-year-old girl at the center died of blood clots in her lungs. She complained to nurses and supervisors that she was ill, but they didn’t believe her, even as she lay dying, according to a subsequent investigation. Munsell said her agency plans to work with the Disability Rights Center to address the group’s concerns. The Department of Justice couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday. During visits to the lockup, McClain said monitors found: Youths watching Harry Potter movies during science class on more than one occasion. A student sleeping on his keyboard, even though a teacher was sitting at a desk in the same classroom. No teacher-led reading program, even though at least 50 percent of the youthful offenders at the center have difficulties reading, and in some cases, can’t read at all. (An ombudsman who regularly visits the center said the youths are supposed to use a computer-based reading program at their own pace, but he has seen no evidence that such a system has.

November 4, 2006 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas terminated its contract with Cornell Cos. Inc. to run the troubled Alexander Youth Services Center on Friday after learning that employees were drugging youths to control unruly behavior — in many cases without doctors ’ orders, in violation of facility policy and against the children’s wills. A preliminary investigation found that from Sept. 1 to Oct. 15, nurses at the center gave 63 injections ofanti-psychotic drugs that have a sedative effect, including Thorazine, to 25 children in the center’s custody. “There is an appropriate circumstance under which you can give a chemical restraint,” said Julie Munsell, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. “Our concern is that in many of these cases, they appear not to have been appropriate.” The internal investigation into the use of chemical restraints triggered a series of events: The Health and Human Services Department placed three Alexander employees on administrative leave, the state Board of Nursing was notified, and Gov. Mike Huckabee ordered a review of Cornell’s policies as well as an Arkansas State Police investigation into what happened. State police investigators are working through the weekend so that they can give Huckabee a preliminary report Monday. Munsell said her agency gave state police its investigative file, which is a foot thick. “Although we hired a nationally reputable contractor to provide services, this appears to be a second major breakdown in the facility’s medical system, and we are no longer confident in the management at the Alexander campus,” Health and Human Services Director John Selig said Friday afternoon. Last year, investigators with the Health and Human Services Department uncovered widespread problems with the medical system at Alexander after 17-year-old inmate Keisha Brown died from blood clots to her lungs. Brown had repeatedly complained that she was ill but some nurses and supervisors at the center did not believe her — even in the last minutes of her life. “Some of us have had concerns with the contract ever since the incident of Keisha Brown’s death,” said Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville. “We were concerned that her medical care was not what it should have been.” After Keisha’s death, Sen. Terry Smith, D-Hot Springs, urged the Health and Human Services Department to end its contract with Cornell and blasted state officials for not better monitoring the for-profit company. Upon learning about the state’s decision Friday night, Smith said, “I told you so. “Apparently this company is not on top of things, and the state employees [who ] are over this are not on top of things. No one is checking on anybody, and this is what happened. It’s just terrible.” In a five-page summary, Health and Human Services Department internal investigators outlined several policy violations and other findings from the 45-day review: Evidence of “falsifying” doctors’ orders on at least two occasions to show that the child should receive injections “as needed.” The original orders did not include that option. Evidence from video surveillance tapes and interviews with the children that some of the inmates were given the injections against their will. Policy allows youths to refuse the injections so long as it is not an emergency situation in which the child may endanger himself or others. Physician order sheets for some of the children that did not include orders for the injections. Eleven incidents during which the doctor gave a verbal order to use the medication but never signed any documents, which is required. No evidence that orders for use of “PRN medications,” which means give as needed, were reviewed annually as required. No evidence that a second physician reviewed orders for forced injections as required. No evidence that an independent psychiatrist reviewed the orders for forced injections, as required to ensure the children’s right to due process. Evidence that employees did not properly document the use of the injections. The lack of documentation made it harder for investigators to piece together exactly what happened during those 45 days, Munsell said. Over the years, the inmates at Alexander have complained that employees kicked, slapped and even threatened them with death. Others killed themselves while there. One boy, known for days to be suicidal, was able to hang himself with a bed sheet because his guard didn’t check on him. Another boy hanged himself in the same cell just a few months later — just as the state hired Cornell Cos. Inc. to take over the facility and fix problems there. In 2002, the U. S. Department of Justice found that dozens of problems remained. Most have since been resolved. The center also is used as an intake facility for all children who come into the state detention system.

December 29, 2005 Benton Courier
A report on the escape of two 17-year-old prisoners in the state youth lockup at Alexander says guards sleeping on the job was one of the reasons the boys were able to break free. The report also says someone inside the facility may have known of the escape plans. Four staff members have been fired from the facility run by the private Cornell Companies. The 12-page report by the state Division of Youth Services says staff members lied about a head count and that a number of guards were asleep when the two escaped. In the short time before Bryant police caught Villegas and Lamberth, the two allegedly burglarized and vandalized Zion Lutheran Church in the Avilla community. The teenagers allegedly stole $140 and took off in the church's van. The report says one of the boys admitted taking a key from the staff desk and unlocking the door to their dorm a week before the escape. The report said the boys got over razor wire by putting a bath mat over it. State Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Julie Munsell said the agency is addressing the problems outlined in the report. "It does show them walking past the staff member who was not moving at the time which indicates perhaps that employee was asleep and, according to interviews with clients, that's what happened at the time," Munsell said. "We had multiple system failures; that's what we really want to address," Munsell said. Munsell said one worker falsified a log "because she did not know how long the youth had been gone. ... She was nervous about the outcome of that." "It is very disconcerting. I think that you have employees exhibiting gross negligence on the job, which is why the expectation is that you take aggressive action," Munsell said.

December 10, 2005 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Two 17-yearold boys face adult prison time, and a private corrections company suspended five employees without pay after an early Friday morning escape from the Alexander Youth Services Center near Bryant. Police said they tracked Benjamin Lamberth and Rusty Villegas as they attempted to flee toward Lamberth's home in Cherokee Village by intercepting cell phone calls, nabbing them about nine hours later in a stolen church van near Cave City. Lamberth and Villegas asked to go to the bathroom, then reportedly bolted through an emergency exit door at Alexander about 1 a. m. They scaled the perimeter fence, draping a shower mat over the razor wire, said Julie Munsell, spokesman for the Department of Human Services. The emergency exit door should have been locked, she said, guessing that the boys had a key. "This was not something spontaneous. They had been planning this for several weeks," she said. Apparently, the teenagers opened the doors without touching a bar that would have triggered a security alarm, she said. Bryant police were not notified until 4 a. m., when the boys were found missing during a routine check. The three hours it took for center officials to realize the boys had escaped will be the subject of an internal investigation. Several security checks should have been made during that period, Munsell said. The state reached a legal agreement with the U. S. Department of Justice in 2003 to eliminate deficits in training and unsafe conditions at the youth lockup. Some minor education and health record issues remain to be resolved before the state can be released from federal supervision, Munsell said Friday. In April 2005, 17-year-old LaKeisha Brown died of blood clots to her lungs while at the center. State and company investigations found lapses in care and violations of state and facility policy in her treatment. A programs supervisor and nursing manager resigned and three employees were disciplined.

October 26, 2005 Record Times
LaKeisha Brown likely had been suffering from blood clots in her lungs for at least two days and possibly as long as two weeks before she collapsed at the Alexander Youth Services Center and then died on April 9, the state medical examiner said Tuesday. A preliminary autopsy report released soon after 17-year-old "Keisha" died listed the cause of death as blood clots from her legs that traveled to her lungs. Last week, her mother, Juana Michelle Brown, gave the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette a copy of the final autopsy report, which she had just received. Autopsies are not public records in Arkansas. Dr. Charles Kokes, the state medical examiner, explained aspects of the final report in an interview Tuesday. "I think if she somehow had been diagnosed in the days prior to her death, it's possible she could have survived," Kokes said, but added that a pulmonary thromboembolism - the medical term for a blood clot in the lungs - can be difficult to detect. Keisha's medical records show that both nurses and some facility managers believed she was faking sickness for attention at the time of her death. An investigation this summer by the state Board of Nursing found that nurses at Alexander did not provide the teenage inmate with adequate medical care in the days before her death and violated facility policy and state nursing laws. Another investigation by the state Youth Services Division found that senior management "was negligent" because it did not ensure systems were in place to provide Keisha the medical care she needed. Because of Keisha's death, the Youth Services Division of the state Department of Health and Human Services uncovered widespread problems with the medical system at the state's largest lockup for youthful offenders, the head of the Youth Services Division told state legislators this summer. The problems, Kenneth Hales explained, have been or are being corrected. For one, the state, which has contracted with the private company Cornell Cos. Inc. to run Alexander, has begun auditing medical files of youths at the facility to ensure they are receiving proper care. Before Keisha's death, the state only audited the company to make sure it was meeting contractual obligations in operating the facility. This summer, Cornell fired two contract nurses, the center's nurse manager and its program supervisor, who also is the second-in-command at the Alexander center, Jane Miller, director of behavioral health services for Cornell, has said. Three other employees were disciplined, and more than a dozen quit. Cornell has apologized for Keisha's death but maintains it is not at fault.

October 22, 2005 Arkansas News
The company that operates Alexander Youth Services Center has revamped many of its medical policies in response to the death of a teenager at the center earlier this year, a company representative said Friday. Testifying before the Arkansas Legislative Council, the employee of Cornell Companies Inc. said more nurses were hired and "sick call" rules for youth housed at the facility were changed following the April death of 17-year-old Lakeisha Brown. A state investigation found nurses at the 349-bed juvenile detention center may not have immediately responded to Brown's health complaints. The cause of Brown's death was a blood clot in her lungs. An investigation by Cornell found no direct link between Brown's death and inaction by Cornell personnel. Four employees resigned and one was fired after the incident. According to Cornell's corrective action plan, no nurses employed at Alexander at the time of Brown's death are still working at the center.

August 11, 2005 AP
The death of a 17-year-old at the Alexander Youth Services Center in April, and the investigation that resulted, uncovered widespread problems at the facility, a state official says. Kenneth Hales, director of the Division of Youth Services in the state Department of Human Services, told state legislators Wednesday that "systematic weaknesses" turned up when officials took a close look at the circumstances of LaKeisha Brown's April 7 death, after she had collapsed at the youth lockup from a blood clot in her lungs. "It was not just LaKeisha," Hales said. Investigations showed that staff members violated the policies of the facility, operated under contract by Cornell Companies Inc. of Houston, as well as DHS regulations and state regulations for nurses. Julie Munsell, a spokesman for the agency, said DHS had regularly audited the Alexander center to confirm that Cornell was meeting its contractual obligations. But she said those auditors were not trained to evaluate the medical procedures and policies being used by the company. "That is something that we have had to ask for some additional assistance to evaluate, because our auditors are not clinicians," Munsell said. "The audit is just not designed to do that." Hales told the Legislature's Joint Performance Review Committee that a review of procedures showed that, when an inmate reported being sick, "it was difficult to tell what the response to that sick call was." "When the nurses examined a youth, you couldn't tell what they saw or what they concluded to do following that examination," he said.
The investigations also found that nurses at the facility lacked supervision, were poorly trained and weren't given good instruction on what their supervisors expected of them, Hales said.

August 3, 2005 AP
Two top managers lost their jobs at a state youth lockup where a teenager died and three other employees received reprimands, according to the private firm that runs the facility. Houston-based Cornell Cos. Inc. also said Tuesday that, in response to the April death of 17-year-old LaKeisha Brown, it had put in place an action plan that includes better orientation and training procedures for all staff and an organizational chart with clearly defined lines of authority. DHS spokesman Julie Munsell said Tuesday evening that Cornell officials had informed the agency that program director Joann McCoy and nurse manager Polly King were no longer employed at the Alexander center. She said the officials did not say whether the two were fired or resigned. Additionally, three employees received written reprimands: licensed practical nurses Holly Clark and Kim Clough and an unnamed member of the facility's clerical staff, Munsell said. The company found more than a dozen problems with Brown's care. Among them were: The center's top managers did not adequately review Brown's care after her death and nurses inadequately responded to her when she collapsed repeatedly and complained of shortness of breath and exhaustion in the days and hours before her death.

July 28, 2005 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Disciplinary action expected against some employees at Alexander Youth Services Center for the way they handled 17-year-old LaKeisha Brown has been delayed, a spokesman for a private company that runs the youth lockup facility for the state said Wednesday. Cornell Cos. Inc. spokesman Lisa Tauser had said Tuesday that a team of company employees were meeting that night to implement personnel changes recommended after the Houston-based company investigated the April 9 death of "Keisha." In a report released Tuesday, a team of Cornell employees suggested the company suspend nurses who responded to or cared for Keisha when she collapsed repeatedly and complained of shortness of breath and exhaustion in the last days and hours of her life. A preliminary autopsy report shows that Keisha died of blood clots to the lungs. The team also said "senior management" should be held "strictly accountable" for failing to ensure the necessary systems were in place so that Keisha would receive the proper medical care. An unidentified clerical employee also should be "disciplined" and placed under stricter supervision for making a decision about Keisha's care without calling a doctor or nurse, the report shows. Cornell's investigation found more than a dozen problems with her care. The team noted that the facility's top managers did not adequately review Keisha's care after her death and that nurses "inadequately" addressed Keisha's medical concerns. Her records show that the nurses did not believe she was really sick and did not call a doctor until she was unconscious. Keisha had been at Alexander, the state's largest juvenile lockup, for nearly two years after being adjudicated for drug possession, rape and inciting a riot. Last week, the State Board of Nursing released a report saying that six nurses at the center violated state nursing regulations in the way they dealt with Keisha. The board now is conducting additional investigations to determine discipline for each nurse.

July 27, 2005 Arkansas Democrat
Senior management at Alexander Youth Services Center should be "held accountable" for failing to ensure 17-year-old LaKeisha Brown received the proper care before she died, and nurses there should be suspended for inadequately addressing her needs, a private company that runs the facility for the state has decided.  A clerical employee working in the facility's medical unit also should be "disciplined" and placed under stricter supervision for making a decision about the care Keisha received without consulting a doctor or nurse, according to a Cornell Cos. Inc. report released by the Department of Human Services on Tuesday evening.  Facility Director Bob McCracken, a Cornell employee, did not return a message for comment Tuesday.  The recommendation to dole out punishment is part of a twopage report detailing the investigation Cornell conducted last month of its own operations after Keisha died April 9 of a suspected blood clot to the lungs.  Cornell's investigation comes after critical investigations by the state Division of Youth Services and the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, both of which found that employees and nurses broke protocol in the way they handled Keisha.  Cornell's investigation, conducted by a team of employees of the Houston-based company, found more than a dozen problems with her care. The team noted that the facility's top managers did not adequately review Keisha's care after her death.  The Cornell investigation also found that nurses at the facility "inadequately" responded to Keisha's needs when she collapsed repeatedly and complained of shortness of breath and exhaustion in the days and hours before her death. Keisha's medical records show that the nurses did not believe she was really sick and did not call a doctor until she was unconscious.  Keisha had been at Alexander, the state's largest juvenile lock-up, for nearly two years after being adjudicated for drug possession, rape and inciting a riot.  The report also states that the facility's ability to handle medical emergencies at the time was "inadequate or nonexistent," that "senior management" was negligent when it failed to ensure all systems were in place to provide Keisha with the care she needed and that nurses were more focused on dealing with Keisha's complaints internally than evaluating her medical condition. The Nursing Board investigated the actions of nurses at the facility. Last week, the board released a report saying that six nurses at the center violated state nursing regulations in the way they dealt with Keisha.  The Nursing Board is now conducting additional investigations to determine what discipline each nurse will receive and whether they will be able to keep their licenses.  State legislators also have been critical of the company. In the past two months, they have called for additional investigations into Keisha's death, leading to the Nursing Board report. Other legislators suggested that the state find another company to oversee the Alexander center, but no such action has been taken.

July 25, 2005 Arkansas Democrat
Now that we know that workers at Alexander Youth Services Center broke the rules, what are we going to do about it?
Someone in a position of real power and authority ought to be asking this question, because breaking rules is serious business, you know. Break enough of them, or at least the wrong ones, and somebody could get hurt or even die.
Which, of course, somebody did. Her name was LaKeisha Brown. She was 17. The official cause was blood clots in her lungs, but just between us, I believe she was ignored to death.  The state Board of Nursing has completed its inquiry and found that a state law and several regulations were violated by some of Keisha's purported caretakers. Altogether, four staff nurses and two contract nurses were identified as being involved in one or more of the infractions.  In case you missed reporter Amy Upshaw's comprehensive report, found in Thursday's editions, here are the highlights of the board's inquiry.  No evidence has been found that the registered nurses on duty when Brown repeatedly collapsed before succumbing were supervising the licensed practical nurses on the scene.  Three of the workers who assessed Keisha's condition and made decisions about her (lack of) medical care were LPNs, not RNs as required.  Five workers knowingly or consistently failed to accurately or intelligibly report or document Keisha's condition. Five staffers failed to notify the designated physician of Keisha's worsening condition over the course of three days.  Now that this inquiry is over, what's next? According to Upshaw's report, the nursing board now plans to investigate each nurse's particular involvement in the case with an eye toward considering whether to take some action against them. Isn't that special?  OK, so due process is the path we follow in these parts, and it's better to take things one step at a time rather than jump the gun. But a 17-year-old girl is dead and someone needs to answer for that. Clearly, state law enforcement officials, who also investigated this "sudden" death that was several days in coming, have closed the books on it and no prosecutors have been heard from. Apparently, continued investigation by the nursing board is the only avenue still open.  State Sen. Shane Broadway, one of the handful of lawmakers who have expressed shock and outrage at Keisha's death, the details of which were first publicized by Upshaw, understands that there are two points of concern here. The first, obviously, is the death of one person. The second is the quality of the care given to others still in her circumstances, i.e., consigned against their will to the juvenile detention facility at Alexander.  "You're talking about a lot of children's lives," Broadway said last week. "The quality of care is very important. It's important that we treat each child even though they have many difficulties. They're still in state custody, and they are our responsibility." I suppose technically they are in state custody. Practically speaking, they are in the custody of people who work for a private company that operates Alexander under a contract with the state. And the private company, Cornell Companies Inc., of Houston, Texas, doesn't seem too exercised about the situation. Oh, they say that they're "very sorry" about Keisha's death, of course, and that "corrections and revisions" are being made to policies and procedures, but so far the company honchos have mad e no decisions concerning personnel.  I'm very sorry Keisha is dead, too. I'm very sorry every time someone confined at Alexander dies. What I want to know is when someone in authority is going to do something about it.  Apparently there is no such person at this time, so it's up to us, the voting public, to find someone. It'll take time-the next election is more than a year away-but if we start with the next prosecutorial, legislative or gubernatorial candidate we meet, if we ask that person what he or she intends to do to make Alexander fit for human habitation, and if we keep asking this of candidates, we'll get it cleaned up.  Frankly, I don't hold out much hope. I've been writing about that hell hole for almost a quarter-century, so my main consolation today is that I won't be around long enough to do it for a quarter-century more. But hope dies hard. There must be someone somewhere who expects more for tackling the Alexander problem than a cush ride on a fast track to higher office.


July 21, 2005 Arkansas Democrat
The state Board of Nursing has found that the way six nurses at the state's largest juvenile lockup handled 17-year-old LaKeisha Brown as she fell ill and died violated a state nursing law and several regulations, according to a report released Wednesday afternoon.  The Nursing Board, which was asked by state officials to investigate how the nurses dealt with Brown, now plans to investigate each nurse's involvement in her care at Alexander Youth Services Center and could discipline them or revoke their licenses, said Deborah Jones, assistant director of nursing practices for the state.
As of Wednesday evening, all six nurses still were working at the Alexander center, said Lisa Tauser, a spokesman for Cornell Cos. Inc., the Houston-based private company that runs the lockup as a contractor for the state. The company still is trying to decide whether any of the nurses or other employees should be punished regarding the April 9 death.  Meanwhile, the Arkansas Medical Society, which was asked to review pediatrician Robert Choate's involvement in Brown's care, said it was not "possible" to do so because the nurses failed to tell Choate about her worsening condition on April 7, 8 or 9. Choate could not be reached Wednesday for comment.  Among the Nursing Board's findings: There's no evidence that the registered nurses on duty when Brown repeatedly collapsed before her death "supervised" the licensed practical nurses, who have less training and are required by the Arkansas Nurse Practice Act to work under RNs, physicians or other more qualified medical professionals.  Five nurses violated facility policy and the Board of Nursing rules and regulations for "knowingly or consistently failing to accurately or intelligibly report or document a patient's symptoms, responses, progress, medications and/or treatment."  Five nurses violated center policy and Nursing Board rules and showed "unprofessional conduct" by failing to notify Choate of Brown's condition.  A Youth Services Division internal investigation into her death found evidence that facility employees violated several policies in the days and hours before her death. On the day Brown died, for example, a supervisor dismissed an employee's request to call an ambulance, and nurses did not call a doctor until Brown was unconscious.

June 18, 2005 AP
A Houston-based company responsible for managing the Alexander Youth Services Center has apologized for the death of a female teenage inmate who died while in Arkansas custody. "On behalf of my company and all of the employees at Alexander, we're sorry," said Jane Miller, director of behavioral health services for Cornell Cos. Inc. "There's nothing more horrible than a child dying in our care." LaKeisha Brown, 17, died from a blood clot that traveled to her lungs on April 9. The girl was to be released May 1. An internal investigation by the Arkansas Department of Human Service's youth division suggested that medical personnel and others at the center may not have responded properly to the girl's repeated complaints about her health condition.

June 16, 2005 AP
The state fired a prison guard for having sex with an inmate. Now, the man has been hired by state- and county-run youth lockups. John Berry, 40, monitors children part-time at the Alexander Youth Services Center, which the state runs through a private contractor, and full-time at the juvenile detention center in Pine Bluff, a Jefferson County facility. Berry has denied allegations from an internal affairs investigation that he had sex with an inmate at the Tucker maximum security prison. The 16-year Department of Correction employee rose to the rank of sergeant before he was fired in October 2002. Alexander Youth Services director Bob McCracken was surprised when asked Wednesday by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper about Berry's rehiring Wednesday. He said a criminal background check, a child-molestation registry check and reference checks were conducted on Berry and turned up nothing.

June 16, 2005 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
State legislators Wednesday were critical of Alexander Youth Services Center employees responsible for 17-year-old LaKeisha Brown on the day she died and said her death should be investigated further. "No one was satisfied with the results of the investigation so far," Sen. Sue Madison, D- Fayetteville, said of the Youth Services Division internal investigation into the case. "I think we are going to be monitoring Alexander a lot more closely." The Youth Services Division investigation found credible evidence that employees violated several policies in the days and hours before "Keisha" died. Specifically, the investigator found that a supervisor dismissed an employee's request to call an ambulance for Keisha and that nurses did not call a doctor for Keisha when they should have. But no one has been disciplined in connection with her death. The private company that runs the Alexander lockup, Cornell Cos. Inc., has been asked by the state to better train employees and to ensure that better documentation is kept in regard to medical concerns and treatment. "Why hasn't someone been terminated?" Madison asked after a joint meeting of the Senate Committee on Children and Youth and the House interim Committee on Aging and Legislative Affairs. "The nurse just turned a deaf ear to this because she was tired of her." Madison said neither Cornell nor the Youth Services Division provided her with the internal investigation or detailed information about Keisha's death. Instead, she found details from reading the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Keisha, who had lived at the lockup for youthful offenders for nearly two years, collapsed at least three times and complained of tiredness during the two days before her April 9 death, records show. However, nurses said nothing was wrong with her. On the day she died, Keisha could barely walk or get out of bed, according to records. She had lost color in her lips and complained of being cold, having difficulty breathing and of being tired. Again, the nurse said everything was fine. A preliminary autopsy report shows that Keisha died of a blood clot in her lungs.As legislators peppered Hales and McCracken with questions, Sen. Terry Smith, D-Hot Springs, interrupted the meeting so the two officials could speak to a committee down the hall that was reviewing Cornell's contract. "From one oil pan to another," Smith told Hales and McCracken. As he walked to the other meeting, Smith said he wants to end Cornell's contract with the state because of the way Keisha was treated. "What happened was totally unprofessional. They didn't follow their own protocols," he said. "[Keisha] wasn't sent down there with a death sentence. Madison also said Scott Tanner, a juvenile-services ombudsman with the state Public Defender Commission, could have done more to help Keisha. "It seems to me that your office was created to prevent this kind of incident," she said. "Something doesn't seem to be working here."

April 16, 2005 Arkansas Democrat Gazette
A day after Lakeisha Brown collapsed at the Alexander Youth Services Center and died, her mother, Juana, found a white envelope with penciled script on the dresser at the family’s home in Luxora. The return address: Keisha Brown, Alexander, Ark. Keisha, as she was known to her family, had written the letter to her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth "Granny Pooh" Brown, on Feb. 19. At the time, "Granny Pooh" clung to life on round-theclock oxygen in a hospital. So Juana kept the letter but didn’t open it, respecting the bond her mother and daughter shared. But now she had to know what her only daughter had written. "Hey Granny Pooh," Keisha begins, drawing a smiley face next to the salutation. Three lines in, the letter turns somber. "Things are getting a little shaky for me. I plan on hanging in there though.... I been sick a lot lately. These nurses suck here. My back hurts a lot. When I breathe a certain way it hurts in my left rib. They tell me I’m not hurting but I stay strong anyhow." Forty-nine days later, on April 9, 17-year-old Keisha Brown died at Southwest Regional Medical Center in Little Rock from a blood clot that traveled to her lungs, according to a preliminary cause of death released Friday by Pulaski County Coroner Mark Malcolm. Elizabeth and Juana Brown wonder whether Keisha received the medical care she needed during her two-year stint at Alexander, the state’s largest juvenile jail. Scott Tanner, a juvenile services ombudsman with the state Public Defender Commission, said Keisha complained to him within the last nine months that she wasn’t receiving proper treatment for the irregular periods. Nurses monitored Keisha, Tanner said, but it took two months to get center medical staff to send her to a gynecologist. The U.S. Department of Justice criticized the Alexander unit in a November 2002 report for violations of several civil rights, including the right to religious freedom, mental health treatment, educational services and a safe environment. State officials signed a settlement with the Justice Department in March 2003 agreeing to correct problems found. In addition, the Youth Services Division conducted an internal review Oct. 4 that found several problems, including a delay in responding to medical needs. The youth lockup is operated by a private company called Cornell Cos. Inc.

Four teenagers who escaped from the state’s largest youth lockup face from 10 years to life in prison if convicted of felony kidnapping counts filed against them Wednesday. The four youths — three age 17 and one age 15 — are accused of locking a worker at the Alexander Youth Services Center inside a cell during the April 10 escape. The April escape was the second since Cornell took over the Bryant facility in September 2001. The first happened the evening of March 16, 2002, when authorities said two 16-year-olds broke away from a group of inmates and ran from the facility. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 5, 2003)

Four inmates at the state’s largest youth lockup escaped early Thursday morning after threatening a guard, stealing her car and driving it through the facility’s front gate, authorities said. Two of the four teenage boys who escaped from Alexander Youth Services Center were caught several hours later. Authorities, however, believe the remaining escapees, ages 17 and 15, had a gun and could be dangerous. Alexander has had a history of problems managing the state’s youthful offenders. In 2001, two teenagers killed themselves only a few months apart. Since spring 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating possible violations of inmates’ civil rights at the lockup. In March the Youth Services Division, Cornell and the Justice Department agreed to a court settlement that required improvements in education, mental health care and fire safety. Thursday’s escape was the second in just over a year. When two 16-year-olds escaped March 16, 2002, neighbors of the lockup complained they had not been notified. The teenagers scaled the fence and were found early the next morning. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 11, 2003)

Failure to deal properly with allegations of abuse of two teen-age boys at the state's largest youth lockup have resulted in the dismissal of four workers. The three life-skills workers and a treatment supervisor at the Alexander Youth Services Center were fired last month after a Department of Human Services investigator looked into the matter. The boys, 16 and 17 years old, were reportedly taken from the facility's main campus to the high risk offender unit Dec. 16 after they had misbehaved. The two boys said that, once there, they were put in a small room with about seven other inmates who threatened them, and one of the two reported being hit, though no marks were found. A report issued this week also said that the boys said the other youngsters in the high-risk unit threatened to sodomize them with a broom handle. DHS investigator Gary Staggs found "credible evidence" that two members of the Alexander center's supervisory staff failed to report the allegations or failed to ensure that they were reported. (AP, February 14, 2003)

A counselor at a youth lockup who resigned after questions arose about her qualifications has been charged with making up credentials. Carolyn Skaggs was a counselor at the Alexander Youth Services Center, but resigned after officials found out she didn't have a counseling license, as she had claimed. Cornell Companies Inc. of Houston runs the youth lockup under a contract with the Youth Services Division of the state Department of Human Services. The Saline County prosecutor's office filed a misdemeanor charge against Skaggs last week. The Alexander lockup has been plagued by problems. The Justice Department is investigating the center after a series of problems in recent years, state officials said. (AP, November 23, 2002)

The Justice Department is investigating the state's Alexander Youth Services Center after a series of problems at the facility, a state official said Wednesday. Doyle Herndon, director of the Division of Youth Services of the state Department of Human Services, told a legislative committee Wednesday the agency is enacting new policies to quell concerns about the Alexander facility and to offer incarcerated youth more rehabilitative programs. Herndon said Justice Department officials began the investigation after visiting the Alexander facility in June. Justice Department spokesman Casey Stavropoulos said the investigation would fall under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and is meant to "see if there's a pattern or practice of misconduct." In October, a state investigation concluded that Cornell Companies Inc. of Houston, which runs the Alexander center under a DYS contract, failed to supervise inmates at risk of suicide while the staff conducted a meeting. (Go Memphis, October 3, 2002)

A woman hired in July to supervise counseling at the state's largest youth lockup saw about 15 youths and testified in one court hearing before officials say they learned her credentials were fake. Carolyn Skaggs resigned Aug. 20 after an employee at Alexander Youth Services Center questioned whether she was licensed, as she claimed and even provided a wallet-sized license card as proof, said Bob McCracken, director of the facility. (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 25, 2002)

In the suicide letter he left in a cell at Alexander Youth Services Center a little more than a year ago, 16-year-old James Baumbach Jr. said one last time what he felt the staff there refused to hear -- he needed help. The help didn't arrive in time to prevent him from hanging himself with a bed sheet tied to an overhead sprinkler cover. Officials acknowledge Baumbach, who was placed on suicide watch days before he carried out his threats, wasn't monitored as he should have been. State officials admitted at the time that the facility's suicide prevention plan hadn't been followed. A guard responsible for monitoring Baumbach eventually was convicted of falsifying logbooks and fired. But the admitted bungling did not bring measures to prevent another suicide, and neither did turning management of the facility over to a private company, Houston-based Cornell Inc. On Sept. 16, less than a month after Cornell took over from the Department of Human Services, 15-year-old Kenneth McClain II committed suicide by hanging himself in the same cell where Baumbach took his own life. Since Cornell took over in September, finding qualified workers has been difficult, company officials say. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 26, 2002)

Two teen-agers accused of escaping from a youth lockup last month will appear in court April 22 for a judge to consider transferring their cases to juvenile court. Stephen Andrew Menasco of Conway and Bennie David Guy of Marion are accused of breaking away from a group of inmates at Alexander Youth Services Center about 7:30 p.m. March 16. They were apprehended the next morning about 6:30 a.m. in Bryant. (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 9, 2002)

A former Alexander Youth Services Center guard set to go to trial today on a charge he falsified logbooks instead pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received a suspended sentence. Eugene Girley, 54, of Pine Bluff was arrested in July. He was accused of lying in documents to make it appear he monitored a 16-year-old who committed suicide in his cell at the youth lockup May 13. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 3, 2002)

The Saline County prosecuting attorney's office plans to treat two 16-year-olds accused of escaping from a youth lockup last week as adults, a spokesman for the office said Monday. Bennie David Guy and Stephen Andrew Menasco are accused of breaking away from a group of inmates at Alexander Youth Services Center about 7:30 p.m. March 16. Last week, Cornell officials and Youth Services Division Director Doyle Herndon also met with neighbors of the facility who complained they weren't contacted soon enough after the escapes. Some said they weren't contacted at all. (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 28, 2002)

A Division of Youth Services guard accused of trying to hurl a juvenile inmate to the ground is charged with third-degree battery and terroristic threatening. The alleged incident at the Alexander Unit occurred last August, though Saline County authorities did not bring charges until Tuesday against Keith Kelley, 34, of North Little Rock. Authorities say a surveillance videotape shows Kelley lifting a 15-year-old boy over his head and trying to throw him. Court papers say Kelley administered body and head blows to the boy, twisted his genitals and told the youth, "I'm going to kill you." Several months before the Kelley incident, an inmate hanged himself inside the facility. A short time after Cornell took control, a second youth committed suicide in the same cell. Last week, two inmates escaped and were captured the next day. (AP, March 23, 2002)

The private company running Alexander Youth Services Center fired a youth services employee last week after he was accused of trying to sell drugs to a guard at the facility, officials there said. Chandler Armstrong, 22, of Benton was arrested and charged with possessing a controlled substance after security officers at the center alerted police. Scott Tanner, juvenile ombudsman coordinator for the Arkansas public defender's office, said Cornell handled the situation appropriately. However, he was concerned he hadn't heard about the incident until contacted by a reporter. (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 13, 2002)

The state Department of Human Services could lose access to all state and federal education dollars if the agency does not quickly correct deficiencies in special education and mental health services for youths in state custody, legislators heard Thursday. State Department of Education monitors planned to inspect special education services at the Alexander unit Friday after giving youth services official 30 days on Jan. 28 to correct educational shortcomings that included $100,000 in missing textbook and educational equipment. "When our staff visited, we had children not in classes, no textbooks and limited numbers of teachers," Marcia Harding, the Education Department's special education director, told a joint meeting of legislative Joint Performance Review subcommittees. She said conditions are worse now than four years ago, when the DHS' Division of Youth Services began employing private contractors to provide education services at Alexander, the state's biggest juvenile facility. (AP, February 21, 2002)

Two guards at the Alexander Youth Services Center were suspended Friday pending an investigation into their conduct during a fight among detainees. Three boys beat up a fourth Wednesday night in the bathroom of the facility's serious offender unit -- called the Juvenile Upward Mobility Program -- while two of the facility's staff stood by, according to police reports. Joe Quinn, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said the allegation that guards failed to intervene is "a tremendously serious situation." (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 2, 2002)

A state investigation has concluded that the private firm that runs the juvenile lockup at Alexander failed to supervise inmates at risk of suicide while the staff conducted a meeting. A 15-year-old boy had hanged himself on Sept. 15. That death came after a 16-year-old died last May in the same cell and by the same method, while a guard was supposed to have been watching him. On Oct. 19, staff at the facility run by Houston-based Cornell Co. had a two-hour meeting, and left the at-risk youths without someone watching, according to a report by the Division of Youth Services, which is an arm of the state Department of Human Services. "We are tremendously frustrated that we are once again discussing an issue like this with Cornell," DHS spokesman Joe Quinn said Tuesday. (AP, October 31, 2001)

It was shocking enough to read about another suicide at the Alexander Youth Center. This was the third suicide at a state youth center since 1997, and these deaths are getting no easier to explain. In this case, according to the report from the private company that now runs the center, the details are nightmarish: A frenzy of other inmates shouting "Do it. Do it." Guards who called to the inmate but didn't bother to look in on him even when he failed to respond. Scheduled checks that weren't made. A staff new to their jobs and unprepared for their duties. Any suicide in detention is awful, but this one was worse than we thought. It was worse than we could have imagined. If its own report is accurate, the private outfit contracted to operate the youth center -- Cornell Companies Inc. -- has painted a damning picture of its own stewardship. What does the Huckabee administration have to say about all this? "We still are extremely troubled by the suicide," says Joe Quinn, who's become an expert by now at making apologies for the state's ironically named Department of Human Services. Anybody would be troubled by what has happened. The mystifying part of poor Joe Quinn's statement was the next sentence: "But we still have confidence in Cornell." Why, for the love of Heaven? No wonder Joe Quinn draws big bucks. Imagine being called on to express confidence in the company that presided over this macabre mess. Here's one question not addressed in Cornell's otherwise admirably candid report and painful recitation of one terrible mistake after another: Why should the people of Arkansas have confidence in an administration that contracts with such an outfit to guard its troubled young people? Confession is good for the soul, but it shouldn't guarantee a state contract. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 4, 2001)

A report on the apparent suicide of a 15-year-old boy at a juvenile lockup says the youth was taunted by other inmates but no one looked in on the boy for more than an hour. Kenneth McClain II heard calls of "Do it, do it," and "Kill yourself, kill yourself," prior to his death on Sept. 16, according to a report by Cornell Companies Inc. The private for-profit firm had just taken over management of the facility. The report says McClain, who had threatened to take his own life, covered his cell windows. Guards called to him but none looked inside despite policy that requires checks ever 15 minutes, the report said. (AP, October 2, 2001)

If a fire breaks out at the state's Alexander Youth Services Center, most of those detained there can't count on sprinklers to douse the flames. That's because most of the cells at the lockup for troubled youths don't have sprinklers -- a situation that concerns both the private company hired to run the facility and state officials responsible for monitoring construction by state agencies. The four detention buildings at Alexander were built years ago -- nobody with the state is quite sure when -- well before the fire code required sprinklers in such facilities. (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 22, 2001)

The father of a 15-year-old boy who was found hanged at a juvenile lockup said officials refused to let him visit his son on the day the youth died. Kenneth McClain Sr. said Wednesday that staff at the Alexander Youth Services Center told him on Sunday that his son had been moved to a serious offender unit after being involved in an altercation. The visit was denied. Monday, the father was told his son, Kenneth McClain Jr., hanged himself with a bed sheet. (AP, September 20, 2001)

Arkansas' experiment with privatization of an adult prison facility was a bust. Now the state is going to have another go at it with a juvenile facility. Responsibility for the snake pit known as the Alexander Unit is about to be turned over to the third private owner-operator of correctional facilities in the nation, Cornell Companies Inc. of Houston, Texas. Under the initial two-year contract, the state will pay Cornell about $13 million to do a better job, presumably, than the state could do at almost twice the cost. Although no sound estimate of the projected cost-savings exists, since the state will continue to pick up the costs for medical insurance associated with Alexander's young inmates, DHS officials anticipate a minor windfall that they say they'll use to build still more juvenile detention facilities. Sen. Kevin Smith of Stuttgart, who has been in the Legislature since 1993, is one of the skeptics. The thought that a for-profit company can do much better for much less must boggle his mind. (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 17, 2001)

Baker Community Correctional Facility, San Bernardino, California
November 18, 2009 Desert Dispatch
The Baker Community Correctional Facility is being closed due to a statewide decrease in low-security inmates. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is opting out of its contract to house inmates at the facility with Cornell Companies, Inc., according to CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton. The CDCR has a $4.9 million contract with Cornell to house inmates at the Baker facility and roughly half of that will be lost due to the closure. The contract was set to expire in June, but will end on December 26. The CDCR’s decision comes as the state has seen a drop of around 2,500 low-security inmates from 2008 to 2009, according to Thornton. The Baker facility itself is built to hold 262 inmates living in a dorm setting, but only housed 180 inmates at the end of October. “We’re seeing a demographic shift in the inmate population,” Thornton said. “We are seeing that the trend is moving away from a need for low-security facilities. The state needs more beds for higher-level offenders. It doesn’t make sense to operate the facilities at low housing levels.” The remaining inmates in Baker will be transferred to other facilities in the state before the closure, according to Thornton. The Baker facility currently employs 80 people, according to Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel. Seigel said the employees may face layoffs, but Cornell is looking at other uses for the facility that would allow them to keep their jobs.

October 26, 2009 AP
California officials say a drop in the number of minimum-security inmates is allowing them to end contracts with the companies that operate three private prisons. The move will save the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation about $15 million a year. The private prisons in Baker, Bakersfield and McFarland once housed a total of 822 inmates. Department officials said today they may seek new proposals to use the prisons for female inmates. About 2,500 fewer minimum-security inmates are in prison than a year ago. The department credits a new policy that diverts many parole violators who commit relatively minor offenses to community programs instead of sending them back to prison.

July 4, 2008 The Sun
Two private correctional officers were hospitalized Friday after a fracas at the correctional facility here triggered by unruly inmates, officials said. About 1 p.m., a correctional officer attempted to handcuff an inmate who was being disruptive. The inmate resisted, and several other inmates came to his aid, resulting in a scuffle between the inmates and at least two correctional officers, said Charles Seigel, spokesman for Cornell Corrections, the company that operates the minimum-security Baker Community Correctional Facility. A sheriff's deputy assigned to the Baker station was called in to assist, and patrolled the perimeter of the prison for about an hour until the situation simmered down, sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers said. Two correctional officers were taken to a hospital in Las Vegas for medical care. The severity of their injuries was unclear, although one appeared to be in need of more care than the other, Seigel said. The officer who suffered the more serious injuries was reportedly doing OK. "He's awake. He clearly has some injuries that need to be treated, but he's awake and OK," Seigel said. A lockdown was implemented after the fracas and an inventory taken of all inmates. All were accounted for, Seigel said. The Baker correctional facility, in a dusty outpost between Barstow and the state line, is a minimum-security facility where inmates are typically transferred from other prisons to carry out the last 18 months of their sentences before being paroled, Seigel said.

March 29, 2007 Contra Costa Times
A race-related fight broke out at a minimum-security community prison, sending four inmates to the hospital with minor injuries, state prison officials said. The fight at the Baker Community Correctional Facility in San Bernardino County occurred at 7 p.m. Wednesday and lasted a few minutes, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections. Twelve black and white inmates started brawling in the yard of the all-male prison and guards rushed to break up the melee. About 80 inmates were in the yard at the time. Four inmates were taken to the hospital with minor bumps and bruises. The cause of the fight was under investigation. "They started to fight. They were told to stop and they did," Thornton said Thursday. The 12 inmates were later transferred to state prisons, she said. Baker, with 250 inmates, is operated by Cornell Companies Inc., which provide services to state governments on a contract basis. The facility is 155 miles east of Los Angeles.

A prison riot that left 17 inmates injured at a private correctional facility in the Mojave Desert may have been triggered by the arrival of a jailhouse "snitch" just hours before, a transfer that countered normal safety protocols, a prison official said Wednesday. A preliminary investigation suggests the brawl between white inmates and Latino inmates, broke out after the informant -- who was white -- was attacked in the prison yard, said Marvin Wiebe, a senior vice president of Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc., which operates the prison. The disturbance escalated into a riot because of a policy that bars guards at privately owned prisons from using force to quell a violent uprising, said Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections. (Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2003)

Autopsy planned in inmate's death Sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the death of an inmate Sunday at Baker Community Correctional Facility, coroner's officials said Monday. Jamie Bengtson, 22, of Baker was found dead in his bunk about 7 a.m., the San Bernardino County Coroner's Department reported. The death was determined to be suspicious and the San Bernardino County sheriff's homicide detail was called to investigate. (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA, August 28, 2001 )

Ben Reid Community CF, Houston, Texas
November 16, 2010 Houston Press
The man charged with killing a Good Samaritan during a purse-snatching is the third person to escape the same state-contracted halfway house in the last 20 months. Anthony Ray Ferrell had fled a "halfway house in the 10900 block of Beaumont Highway" in October, according to the Houston Chronicle. The home in that block is the Ben A. Reid Community Correctional Facility, from which sex offender Bruce McCain escaped in October 2010 and Richard Williamson Griffin Jr. escaped in February 2009. (McCain was arrested in the Rio Grande Valley three weeks after his escape). The home was operated by private prison group Cornell Companies, which was bought by its main competitor, the Florida-based GEO Group, last April. The facility "provides temporary housing, monitoring and transitional services for 500 minimum-security adult male offenders," according to Cornell Companies literature. Its "security measures include 24-hour custodial supervision, 12-foot perimeter fence, outdoor lighting, close circuit cameras, secure entrances and frequent census checks." Cornell Companies/GEO also operate Houston's Leidel Comprehensive Sanctions Center. In 2005, before GEO bought Cornell, a Leidel resident who got a day-pass for church and never bothered to return; he fled to Fort Worth, where he killed three men. Ferrell is accused of murdering Sam Irick at a Meyerland convenience store last week. Irick tried to intervene as Ferrell allegedly was robbing a customer.

September 9, 2004 Houston Chronicle
Drug use by employees at a privately run halfway house for paroled felons led to seven resignations this week after the facility's corporate owners called for staffwide drug tests. The departure of the seven workers — including administrators, security guards and caseworkers — was the latest problem at the Ben Reid Community Correctional Facility, which houses up to 500 felons in northeast Houston.
The facility is operated by the Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. The seven employees who resigned did so after testing positive for drug use. In May, its director of employee training, Roy Thomas, 50, was arrested after a police officer, acting on a tip, searched his car and found 212 tablets of hydrocodone, an addictive painkiller, and 123 tablets of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, police said. Cornell fired the Ben Reid House's director and several high-level managers last year, citing poor management and violations of numerous company policies.

Big Spring Complex, Big Spring, Texas
November 9, 2010 NewsWest 9
An accidental shooting on Tuesday at the federal prison in Big Spring put an inmate in the hospital. The shooting happened right before noon at the Flight Line Prison, located at the airpark in Big Spring. According to medics, a Hispanic man was accidentally shot by a gun in the upper arm. The wound was not serious, but he was taken to Scenic Mountain Medical Center for a follow up. He was alert and conscious while being transported. We still don't know how the prisoner was shot. Details are limited at this time, but we've learned the shooting is under investigation. NewsWest 9 has contacted the Geo Group, which currently runs the prison, and they have not commented on the incident. NewsWest 9 will continue to follow this story and will bring you the very latest information when we get it.

September 14, 2008 Permian Basin 360
Questions remain unanswered concerning Friday night's prison riot in Big Spring. Fires reportedly broke out in several buildings at the Big Spring Correctional Center's FlightLine unit. Ambulances were seen leaving the scene. Cornell Companies currently operates the site. "All we do is establish a perimeter. That's all we do in these instances. They handle all the security inside the fence," said Sgt. Tony Everett of the Big Spring Police Department. The unit is specifically for prisoners who commit immigration violations. At this time, Cornell Companies has yet to respond to our calls.

September 13, 2008 NewsWest 9
Questions still remain unanswered after a prisoner fire and riot on Friday night. Facility officials are being very cautious of what information is being disclosed. Big Spring authorities rushed to the scene of a riot and fire from the Flightline Correctional Center near the Big Spring airport. The facility takes prisoners from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services, but since it is a privately owned facility the plan for police was to secure a perimeter. "The only reason we are here, our only purpose is if spills outside of the fenced facility," Sergeant Tony Everett, with the Big Spring Police Department, said. In total, about 15 police officers stayed outside managing traffic while Big Spring firefighters went inside. "My understating is that may be one or two buildings were on fire," Everett said. Several ambulances left the scene towards Scenic Mountain Medical Center where family members were advised not to disclose any information. But the mother of one of the injured employee was thankful to hear her son was doing better. "I feel a whole lot better, I feel relieved that he is O.K. Like I said earlier, I just left it in the hands of God and he is the one who pulled me through," Inez Heins, Mother of a facility Employee, said. NewsWest 9 also received a couple of calls from relatives who say that seven facility staff were injured and were treated for minor injuries. According to officials from the correctional center the riot never posed danger to the public.

September 13, 2008 KWES TV
State and local authorities have responded to a private prison near the airport in Big Spring after an apparent riot. Big Spring Police responded to the riot around 9:00p.m. Friday night, and quickly set up a perimeter around the prison. There have unconfirmed reports of injuries, but a mother of an injured guard tells NewsWest 9 that her son did sustain injuries to the face. We were also told that three ambulances also left the prison after the riot, which is run by Cornell Companies. Viewers also reported seeing smoke coming from the prison, but our crew did not see any smoke when they arrived to the scene. Sgt. Tony Everett with the Big Spring Police Department did confirm that a fire was started in the prison but it is now under control. Authorities tell NewsWest 9 that the situation has calmed down for the night. The prison handles INS cases for the federal government. There have been no reports of inmates escaping the prison at this time.

September 12, 2008 KOSA CBS 7
Emergency officials are currently responding to a fire at the Flightline Prison located at the Big Spring airport. CBS 7 News has confirmed that a riot broke out at the prison about 9:00 p.m. Several ambulances were seen leaving the prison. Fire crews confirm there are six to eight people who were injured and taken to the hospital. No word yet on the severity of the injuries. According to Big Spring Police spokesperson Tony Everett, the riot is under control and Big Spring police have set up a perimeter around the facility. CBS 7's Greg Sherman was the first reporter on the scene. He says thick black smoke was seen coming from the prison. The Flightline unit handles low-risk inmates who are primarily incarcerated for immigration violations.

August 16, 2005 AP
Investigators want to know what started an inmate disturbance at a privately run prison in West Texas that left five workers hurt. The assaults happened at the Flightline Unit of the Big Spring Correctional Center. Center spokeswoman Janice Bishop says one staffer required hospital treatment, while the other four suffered minor injuries. Bishop says the unit was slightly damaged in Saturday night's incident. No inmates were injured. Bishop today declined to release further information about the assaults. Big Spring police say the disturbance was contained inside the prison. Texas troopers and the Howard County sheriff's department also responded to the center run by the Houston-based Cornell Companies.

A Cornell Corrections inmate escaped over a fence late Sunday night but his freedom was short lived. The inmate, 29-year-old Ernesto Soto-Olivarez climbed over the fence at the Airpark unit around 9:30 p.m. Sunday and was spotted by correctional officers who took after him on foot. He lost the officers in the darkness. (Big Spring Herald, March 13, 2001)

Bernalillo County Detention Center, Bernalillo, New Mexico
April 8, 2009 KRQE
A 13-year-old lawsuit over jail conditions that has already cost Bernalillo County taxpayers millions of dollars may have to start over, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Martha Vasquez has thrown out a 2005 settlement in the case after lawyers for inmates claimed the county misled them. Prisoners sued Bernalillo County in 1995 over conditions at the jail, which at that time was located in downtown Albuquerque at 415 Roma NW. The prisoners cited inhumane conditions which included overcrowding and lack of access to health and psychiatric care. In 2005, two years after the Metropolitan Detention Center opened west of Albuquerque, the prisoners and the county negotiated a settlement. That deal required the county to meet 14 criteria including controlling overcrowding and providing better mental health and psychiatric care. The county reported it has since met 13 of those criteria leaving only psychiatric care still to work out. In a court filing the inmates' attorneys claimed they recently became aware that the county still plays a major role in the former downtown jail which it still owns. That jail now houses federal prisons through a contract with Cornell Corrections, a private company. Under that contract Cornell must provide monthly reports on jail operations to the county which include population numbers, inmate grievances and disciplinary action taken against inmates and staff. In her new ruling the judge ordered the county to provide the inmates' attorneys access to the downtown lockup. County Manager Thaddeus Lucero said the county objected at the hearing and will fight the ruling.

December 26, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Bernalillo County still doesn't have a valid contract with the private company running the Downtown jail- even though it opened 11/2 years ago. New Mexico law requires that contracts with private jail companies be approved by the state Attorney General's Office before taking effect. The office has warned Bernalillo County, in a series of letters this year and last, that it hasn't approved the contract yet and still has a few concerns. For one, state lawyers say, the contract needs to address what would happen if the county must send local inmates to the Downtown jail. Right now, that lockup handles only federal and state inmates and is operated by Houston-based Cornell Companies. County inmates are housed at a new jail on the West Mesa, where the skyrocketing population has caused overcrowded conditions. The county's intention is to create a separate agreement if it ever needs to send local inmates Downtown, but that's "not acceptable," Assistant Attorney General Zachary Shandler told the county in a letter last year. "This is the time to work out the terms of the Management Agreement," Shandler said. The state had a host of other concerns, such as making it clear in the contract that the county has "ultimate say" over the jail, not Cornell. Shandler said his last letter to the county was in February and that he hadn't received a formal response. Shandler wouldn't discuss what action the state might take if Bernalillo County never gets the contract approved. Meanwhile, the county could face legal "exposure" because of the lack of approval, he said. "The problem generally is that if something went wrong contractually with their partner or some situation occurred in the inmate population, they would not have an effective contract ... that protects the state from certain liabilities," Shandler said.

October 15, 2003
The county refused to put the jail lease out to bid. Instead, it negotiated a five-year deal after Cornell responded to a request for information.  Although Gov. Bill Richardson expressed reservations about the no-bid process, Board of Finance Director Mark Valdes said the board did not have the authority to direct Bernalillo County to put the lease out for competitive bid.  He cited changes made in state procurement law during the last legislative session.  "The board does not have the authority to not approve the lease and direct the county to do competitive bids," Valdes said.  Board members did not question the role of Cornell's hired consultants, Albuquerque attorney Edmund "Joe" Lang and former Democratic Party National Committeeman Art Trujillo.  The two originally were hired to help Cornell get the lease on the Downtown jail. Lang was to be paid $2 a day per inmate and Trujillo 25 cents a day per inmate.  They potentially stood to make more than $2 million off the deal combined.  Cornell says those agreements are no longer in effect. The company says Lang's contract is now "dramatically different" and that Trujillo is no longer working on the project.  (ABQ Journal)

October 13, 2003
A private jail operator that has been awarded a controversial no-bid contract to operate the old Bernalillo County Detention Center at one point agreed to pay two politically connected consultants big dollars to help secure the deal.  Former state Sen. Edmund "Joe" Lang and former Santa Fe Mayor and Democratic Party figure Art Trujillo had the potential to receive nearly $2.5 million combined from Cornell Companies over a five-year period— an amount that would hinge on how many inmates were housed in the jail.  Cornell says the agreements are no longer in effect.  Lang, a Corrales Democrat and former Sandoval County commissioner, stood to earn the biggest payday.  Cornell, in a memorandum of understanding dated April 15, 2002, agreed to pay Lang $2 a day per inmate for the "consulting work that you will perform in conjunction with Cornell's attempt to lease or purchase ... the Bernalillo County Jail (Downtown Jail facility)."  Cornell had a similar agreement with Trujillo, a former Bernalillo County Democratic Party chairman who at the time was conducting what turned out to be a successful campaign for his party's nomination for state Land Commissioner.  Trujillo, however, was only to be paid 25 cents a day per inmate— a potential payout of about $273,000 over five years.  Trujillo has a history of friction with County Commission Chairman Tom Rutherford. Lang and Rutherford are longtime friends and colleagues.  The memorandums to both Lang and Trujillo said payments would commence only after the "complete execution" of a valid contract between Cornell and the county. Payments would begin "after the first full quarter of a fully executed contract and be issued quarterly thereafter for the original term of the contract."  Cornell estimated the capacity of the jail at 540 inmates after renovation. The county's estimate is about 600 inmates. Assuming the jail was full, that would translate into a potential fee of $1,080 to $1,200 a day for five years with a possible five-year renewal.  Five years of operation with 600 inmates would have meant a payment in excess of $2.1 million to Lang. Those estimates are based on a jail operating at full capacity, 365 days a year.  Paul Doucette, Cornell vice president for development and public affairs, said in a telephone interview Friday that both documents are out of date.  "Neither is in effect today," he said.  Doucette said Cornell's current agreement with Lang is "dramatically different" than the one outlined in the April 2002 memorandum.  Doucette would not, however, discuss specifics.  "We consider the details of that agreement proprietary," Doucette said. "We are still in a very competitive situation on this project, as the sending of these documents to the Journal illustrates. Someone is trying to manipulate the process."  He said Lang is a "very valuable consultant who knows New Mexico very well."  Doucette said, "We are no longer working with Art Trujillo on this project."  Trujillo believes his original contract with Cornell is still valid but says he has been cut out of any negotiations between Cornell and the county.  The contracts between Cornell and the consultants have not been discussed publicly in the talks leading up to county approval of the pact with Cornell.  Cornell's contract with Bernalillo County to operate the jail still faces the hurdle of approval by the state Board of Finance, which balked at approving the pact earlier this month.  Members of the Board of Finance, which is chaired by Gov. Bill Richardson, questioned how they could be sure the county was getting the best deal, since the contract never went out to bid.  The board asked for more information and is scheduled to take up the contract again on Tuesday.  Cornell negotiated a five-year lease with the county to renovate and house inmates at the now-vacant jail. The negotiations, including talks between Lang and then-County Manager Juan Vigil, were based on Cornell's reply to a Request for Information sent to private jail contractors. Under the contract approved on a 4-1 vote by the county commission in January, Cornell would pay the county about $1 million a year the first two years of operations with a gradual increase over the next three years.  The company originally offered to pay the county $5 a day per inmate with a ceiling of $1 million a year. In addition, Cornell would spend roughly $5 million to renovate the old jail Downtown.  The county sent out the request for information in 2001. It never issued a formal request for proposals that would state what the county wanted and how the proposals would be judged.  Cornell's competitors and one county commissioner criticized that decision.  All of the county commissioners contacted by the Journal said they were unaware of the terms of the consulting contracts.  "I wouldn't know about that," Rutherford said. "I do know that he (Lang) did a lot of work on this."  Commissioner Steve Gallegos said, "Wow. I've never been a lobbyist, so I don't know what they receive. I don't know if that's high. It doesn't sound right to me."  Commissioner Michael Brasher, who has been critical of the process and was the sole vote against the lease for Cornell, questioned the arrangement.  "I think we need to have full disclosure of situations like this. The entire deal has been very curious."  Corporate spokesmen from Wackenhut Corrections Corporation and Corrections Corporation of America declined comment for this story.  Commissioner Alan Armijo said he would like to see the (Cornell-Lang) agreement.  "Without looking at it and knowing all the details, I don't know if it bothers me or not ...," he said.  Commissioner Tim Cummins said, "Sounds like he's (Lang) a partner. Whatever arrangement they do is none of my business."  Consultant agreements Doucette, Cornell's vice president for development and public affairs, confirmed that Lang currently has a contract with Cornell and that Cornell does enter into contingency agreements like the one obtained by the Journal.  "Like everything else, we factored it into our costs," Doucette said. "Our proposal to lease and remodel the jail provides an outstanding value to the county."  But he would not discuss specifics of the consultant agreements.  Lang in a telephone interview said he wouldn't comment on his contract, also saying that it was "proprietary."  Doucette confirmed that Trujillo did work for Cornell on the jail contract early in the process, although Lang said he was unaware of Trujillo's involvement in the lease.  The body of the memos from Cornell to Lang and Trujillo are almost identical except for the amount to be paid. They have the same date and are signed by the same Cornell official.  The memoranda state that they are good for six months and could be renewed.  In a telephone interview, Trujillo said his contract is still valid, but no one the Journal interviewed in county government recalled Trujillo being involved.  "I told them (Cornell) how to get this project done ... but Lang has cut me off totally," Trujillo said.  Trujillo was defeated in November by Republican Patrick Lyons in the Land Commissioner race.  Lang is registered as a legislative lobbyist for Cornell and said that work is separate from his work on the county jail lease. State law prohibits legislative lobbyists from working on a contingency fee like the one outlined in the memorandum of understanding.  "I haven't talked to any legislators on Cornell's behalf," he said.  There is no state prohibition on contingency fees for lobbying local governments on jails.  Friendship is separate Lang and Rutherford acknowledge a longtime friendship.  They attended high school together and served in the state Senate at the same time. They are both lobbyists and sometimes work for the same clients.  Both said their friendship had nothing to do with the Downtown jail lease.  Rutherford said he is also friends with the lobbyists who represent Cornell's competitors— Corrections Corporation of America and Wackenhut. Those two companies asked the commission to put out a request for proposals.  There is a small group of people who do lobbying, and they all know one another. I sat on the Senate committee that approved Ed Mahr (lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America) as Corrections secretary back in the 1970s. I served in the Senate and on the commission with Les Houston (lobbyist for Wackenhut Inc.) for years," Rutherford said.  "We're all friends," Lang said of his competing lobbyists.  "We (Cornell) gave the only responsive price which the county asked for in its request," Lang said. "Nobody has ever said they could beat our price."  Both men said the commissioner who pushed the jail privatization was Steve Gallegos, hoping to use the money generated by the lease to fund a psychiatric unit at the $90 million Metropolitan Detention Center on the West Side.  "This is simply a mechanism to get the psychiatric unit built at the new jail," Lang said.  That sentiment was echoed by Rutherford and Cummins, who said the building was essentially useless sitting empty.  Court and police officials have suggested using part of the facility as a Downtown holding and booking facility— an idea rejected by the county.  Gallegos said he is not a proponent of privatizing jails but believes the county had to come up with some way to build a psychiatric unit at the new jail.  "I pushed it as a public facility, and I don't believe in privately run jails," Gallegos said. "It was really out of frustration that I said let's try the private sector."  "I want that psych unit built," Gallegos said. "I know that inmates with mental health problems are abused in jail. I've had personal experience with family members with mental health problems and I know how important this unit is."  "What it really came down to was Cornell put numbers up and the others didn't," Gallegos said. "Why didn't the others? Are they serious or not?  "Later, the other guys come back and say we're playing an unfair game. But I think Cornell played it straight with us."  Gallegos said, "The problem in this state is that everyone's connected. Les Houston worked for Wackenhut. I know Ed Mahr with CCA very well. He's a friend. I've known Tom Rutherford for years and years. I don't know Joe Lang that well." How it all started  The county put out its request for information on renovating and privatizing the Downtown jail in October 2001.  At that time, commissioners expected the jail to be empty by the following summer when the new West Side jail was supposed to open. The idea was criticized by the union representing officers at the jail and seemed to die.  In January 2002, Gallegos began pushing the idea of the county running the Downtown jail as a facility to hold federal inmates. Any profits would go to building a psychiatric unit at the new jail.  Negotiations with the U.S. Marshals Service hit a stumbling block when federal officials said they could not guarantee a fixed number of inmates because that would violate federal policy. In April 2002, Cornell inked separate memorandums of understanding with Lang and Trujillo to act as consultants on securing a lease or purchase of the Downtown jail.  Talks between the county and the Marshals Service for federal funds to renovate the old jail broke down when the county failed to meet a key deadline for filing paperwork for federal renovation funds.  In the fall of 2002, the commission resurrected its discussion of a private jail operation.  The county had received general letters of interest from Wackenhut and Corrections Corporation of America.  Cornell was more specific. It gave the county a quote of $5 a day per inmate, with a ceiling of $1 million a year.  In January 2003, County Attorney Tito Chavez told commissioners they could negotiate a lease with Cornell because of its response. He advised that the county was not required to put out a Request for Proposals— citing a specific state law that allows local governments to negotiate jail agreements based on a simple request for information.  At the end of November 2002, the commission authorized Vigil to negotiate with Cornell.  The decision was unanimous. Then-Commissioner Les Houston, whose term expired in December, urged the county to put out a Request for Proposals but recused himself from voting because he represented Wackenhut.  "We felt there was a time crunch which in hindsight, because of the delay in opening the new jail, wasn't valid," said Cummins, who was chairman at the time.  "But at the time there was some feeling of urgency."  In January 2003, the commission approved a lease with Cornell for the old jail. The lease was amended in June 2003, when Cornell agreed to pay for the renovations.  There have been some technical changes in the lease after it was reviewed by the Board of Finance. Board members have asked the county for figures from similar types of jail deals.  "Comparisons from jail to jail are difficult," Brasher said. "That's the argument for going out to a Request for Proposals. That's how you find out what the value of that jail Downtown really is."  Rutherford said, "The Board of Finance is doing their duty to review this carefully."  (ABQ Journal)

June 11, 2003
Bernalillo County commissioners on Tuesday approved plans for a private company to renovate the Downtown jail and house federal inmates there. The commission voted 4-1 in favor of revising its lease agreement with Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. The earlier agreement had called for the federal government to pay for renovations. Under the new proposal, Cornell would pay for the renovations, which are expected to cost $5 million. The proposal still must go before the state Board of Finance. The approval came despite objections by Corrections Corporation of America, which said the county should allow other companies to compete for the jail. "Why not open it up and get the best deal you can?" asked Frank C. Salazar, an attorney for CCA.  (ABQ Journal)

June 11, 2003
When Bernalillo County signed a contract with Cornell Cos. in January to lease the City-County Jail building, it was riding on the hope the federal government would come up with a big chunk of the nearly $4 million needed to renovate the lockup.  That hope was a dim one, said the head of the U.S. Marshal's Service in Albuquerque.  The county was counting on getting a Marshal's Service grant to repair the Downtown jail and meet a major condition of its contract with Cornell, a private corrections company, county Public Safety Director John Dantis said Thursday.  However, the county missed its chance to receive a $3 million grant when the money was made available last year, said Gordon Eden, U.S. marshal for New Mexico.  "There is no extra money now," he said. "It could be several years until the Marshal's Service will be able to provide them with money for renovations."  Each year the Marshal's Service allocates grants to government agencies to upgrade jails to meet the agency's standards. Cornell would be contracting with government agencies to house federal prisoners in the jail.  The grant appropriation has been steeply declining over the past three years, Eden said. The amount available nationwide was $35 million in fiscal year 2001, $20 million in 2002 and $5 million in 2003, he said.  Now, the county and Cornell are in negotiations to figure out who will pay for the jail repairs.  A Cornell spokesman said the Houston company is willing to pay for the renovation but declined to comment on what it expects in return.  In June 2002, the county was made aware it would not receive the $3 million Marshal's Service grant because it had missed a May deadline to turn in paperwork, Eden said.  Dantis said the county had asked for an extension before the deadline in order for the County Commission to approve grant changes made by the Marshal's Service, but it was denied.  "When the Marshal's Service deemed the county unresponsive, they allocated that money to other government agencies who needed the money," Eden said.  The county contract with Cornell in January states the county would "use its best efforts" to secure a Marshal's Service grant.  "How can you obligate federal funds you don't have?" Eden said Thursday in reference to the contract.  County officials said at that time they were planning to apply for the Marshal's Service grant again.  In April, the county asked the Marshal's Service for funding, but it is not depending on that money, Dantis said.  "We're looking at a number of options to fund the renovations," he said. Under the contract, the county is responsible for electrical, plumbing, security and roof repairs and several other categories of renovations to the building.  The county has not looked into paying for the repairs using its own money, Dantis said, and referred inquiries to county financial officials.  County Manager Juan Vigil was out of town Thursday, a spokeswoman for the county said, and could not be reached for comment.  Under the terms of the contract, Cornell would pay $888,888 in rent during the first two years of the lease, with rent increasing to $1.2 million in the third year.  The county planned to use the revenue from the Cornell lease to add a mental health facility to the new Metropolitan Detention Center, a 2,100-bed facility on the West Side that is now in the process of being filled with inmates from the county's three jails.  Repairs to the Downtown jail cannot begin until the county moves all its inmates to the new lockup. The $86 million building became ready for occupancy two weeks ago, a year behind schedule.  Cornell spokesman David Monroe said his company needs to wait until the old jail is vacant and the renovations are complete before it can house its inmates. The company doesn't have a scheduled move-in date for inmates, he said.  "The county has taken a bit longer than we anticipated," Monroe said. "We want to do it as soon as possible but with the appropriate parameters."  Cornell already has signed contracts with government agencies to house inmates in the Albuquerque jail, Monroe said. He declined to give any details on those contracts.  Cornell's system includes about 70 detention facilities nationwide.  County Commissioner Michael Brasher said the county might have to solicit companies that want to use the Downtown jail and could get it up and running.  "If Cornell can't come up with the money," he said, "Maybe they (county officials) can find someone who can pay for the renovations."  (Albuquerque Journal)

January 15, 2003
Bernalillo County commissioners approved a proposal to rent the Downtown jail to a private corrections company Tuesday — despite a potential snag over funding for renovations.  Both the county and Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. can terminate the lease agreement if funding for the jail renovations doesn't come through.  As part of the proposal, federal inmates could end up at the Downtown jail. Commissioners directed county officials to try to work out agreements with the U.S. Marshals Service.  Commission Chairman Tom Rutherford said the lease is important because it will put the Downtown jail to "beneficial use" after inmates there are moved to the new Metropolitan Detention Center. The moving date is uncertain.  But Gorden Eden, U.S. marshal for the district of New Mexico, told the commission that federal money for the jail renovations isn't available now. He said he would work with the county to get funding but couldn't promise the money for renovations.  (ABQ Journal)

January 14, 2003
Two former city councilors set to join the County Commission today will have a chance to make a historic decision — whether to rent the Downtown jail to a private corrections company.  The proposed lease agreement would make the jail — for the first time — a privately run detention center.  As part of the proposal, the county would try to work out an agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service to house federal inmates there.  There are no plans to house city and county inmates there. The Downtown jail would be vacant after local inmates are moved to a new lockup on the West Mesa.  Bernalillo County didn't seek formal bids from companies interested in the project. Instead, officials began negotiating with Cornell after issuing a request-for-information.  (ABQ Journal)

November 27, 2002
Bernalillo County commissioners on Tuesday authorized further negotiations with a private company interested in running the Downtown jail as a holding center for federal inmates.  The commission's 4-0 vote allows County Manager Juan Vigil to continue negotiating a lease agreement with Cornell Companies Inc.  The county also will try to work out an agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service.  Anthony Marquez, president of the jail employees' union, spoke against bringing in a private company.  The country would have more oversight if it hired its own employees to run the Downtown jail, he said.  Private companies "are there to make a buck," Marquez said.  (ABQ journal)

October 9, 2001
Bernalillo County commissioners today are scheduled to consider taking the first step toward transforming the Downtown jail into a holding center for federal inmates.  The proposal, sponsored by Commission Chairman Steve Gallegos, would authorize the county to submit an application to the U.S. Marshals Service to launch the program and remodel the jail to meet federal standards.  Commissioner Les Houston said he is "philosophically opposed" to having Bernalillo County run a federal holding center. The county soon will be busy enough operating the 2,100-bed Metropolitan Detention Center under construction on the West Side, he said.  Houston suggests the county either lease the old jail or sell it.  "If we are going to operate a jail for profit ... then it should be operated by professionals, such as one of the national private operators," Houston said.  But Gallegos, who opposes having a private company run the holding center, said Houston should excuse himself from discussion of the application. Houston is a registered lobbyist for Wackenhut Corrections Corporation.  (Albuquerque Journal)

Business Week
Cornell

November 24, 2005 New York Times
Federal prosecutors have charged a former securities broker, David Pajcin, with insider trading related to information the authorities said he gleaned by illegally obtaining advance copies of Business Week and buying stocks that the magazine was covering favorably. Pajcin apparently persuaded an unidentified worker at a printing plant near Milwaukee to steal a copy of Business Week before it was released to the public. The complaint said that Mr. Pajcin bought shares in at least 10 companies from November 2004 to early March; Business Week wrote positively about all of them. Mr. Pajcin bought shares or stock options in companies like TheStreet.com, Cornell Corrections, the SIPEX Corporation, the IMAX Corporation and Arbitron early on the same day that the companies appeared in the magazine's ''Inside Wall Street'' column.

California Legislature
January 15, 2006 Sacramento Bee
Driven by a rising inmate population, prison spending in California is scheduled to exceed $8 billion this year. But the real intrigue in the state's 2006-07 corrections budget is in what it's proposing for the near- and long-term future. Spelled out in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's summary on the spending plan is a proposal "to pursue authority to secure additional inmate capacity through contracts with other providers." The wording is fleshed out in the actual budget bill, which calls for a virtual doubling in the number of private prison beds in California, from the current 8,500 to an estimated 17,000 over the next two years. "I think this proposal means that the governor is taking a pretty courageous stand for good public policy," said Mark Nobili, a lobbyist for Cornell Companies, a private prison firm that currently operates two correctional facilities on contract with the state and is likely take up the administration's invitation to bid this year on some of the upcoming contracts. CCPOA President Mike Jimenez said it is "a pipe dream" for the state to think it can get by building only two new prisons over the next ten years. He said Schwarzenegger's jail-and-private prisons proposals are "payback to us" for taking him on during the special election last year. "Clearly this is a shot back at us for opposing him as well as his reforms that never materialized," Jimenez said.

Children's Advocacy Center, Erie, Pennsylvania
June 12, 2009 Erie Times-News
A Cornell Abraxas mental-health aide was charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old resident at the center. Police said the girl, now 15, told a counselor at the Children's Advocacy Center that Kito Dixon, 29, made inappropriate comments to her and touched her breast April 11 as she was getting ready for bed at the residential rehabilitation center for troubled juveniles, at 429 W. Sixth St. Police said a security video from the hallway outside the girl's room showed Dixon standing at her doorway for several minutes. It also showed him entering the room but does not show what happened inside, according to a criminal complaint. The video was at the same time as when the girl said the incident occurred. Dixon was charged Tuesday with institutional sexual assault, indecent assault and corruption of minors. He has been released from the Erie County Prison on $7,500 bond. Messages left at Cornell Abraxas were not returned Thursday.

Cordova Center, Anchorage, Alaska
November 21, 2008 AP
A 21-year-old Anchorage man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he escaped from Cornell Corrections of Alaska. Federal prosecutors say Jedediah Smith remains at-large since his Nov. 1 escape. Smith was first indicted last month on charges of a felon being in possession of a firearm. He was assigned to Cornell Corrections Oct. 14 by a federal magistrate judge. Prosecutors say Smith faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or both, if convicted.

November 10, 2004 KTUU
A shooting in an Airport Heights apartment building Tuesday night left one man dead, and his brother in custody. It was about 9:30 p.m. when police received a 911 call from a woman. Officers responded to an Airport Heights apartment complex on Columbine Court near DeBarr Road and found a man mortally wounded. The individuals turned out to be brothers. Police say 30-year-old Ralph Landry was shot at least once in the upper torso. He was rushed to Alaska Regional Hospital, where he died a short time later during surgery. Police say it was Landry's younger brother who pulled the trigger. “Through the investigation, we identified Calvin Landry, who's about 23 years old, as a suspect in the homicide,” said Lt. Kris Miller. Police actually had been looking for Calvin Landry long before Tuesday’s shooting. “He has an outstanding warrant for escape, basically walking away from a halfway house,” Miller said. Last July, Landry walked away from the Cordova Center, where he was serving out a sentence for drunken driving and theft. Now it appears he is in more serious trouble.

The man who managed an Anchorage halfway house is accused of sexually assaulting an inmate.  Charles Rubin, 41, was arrested last night at his home on Elmendorf Air Force Base. Rubin was the security manager at Cordova Center until last May, when, according to police, he lured a 23-year-old woman into an office and coerced her into having sex.  Police say the woman believed she would be sent back to Hiland Mountain Correctional Center if she resisted Rubin's advances.  The Cornell Company, a private firm that manages the Cordova Center, says it put Rubin on administrative leave the day after the assault was reported. It says Rubin was fired a month later.  (KTUU.com, August 4, 2004)

Cornell-Abraxas Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania
April 21, 2010 Erie Times-News
A former Cornell-Abraxas mental-health aide was sentenced this morning in Erie County Court to serve six to 20 months in the Erie County Prison for having indecent contact with a 14-year-old resident at the center. Kito Dixon, 30, must also serve also serve six years probation and pay court costs, Judge Ernest J. DiSantis Jr. said. The sentence in Erie County Court came after Dixon pleaded no contest in March to charges that he had indecent contact with a female resident at the center in April 2009, and, in a separate case, pleaded no contest to charges that he drove his car into a yard toward three people on June 12.

March 6, 2010 Erie Times-News
A former Cornell Abraxas mental-health aide pleaded no contest Friday in Erie County Court to charges that he had indecent contact with a 14-year-old resident at the center. Kito Dixon, 30, did not contest counts of indecent assault and corruption of minors. In exchange for his plea, the prosecution dropped a third-degree felony charge of institutional sexual assault. Cornell Abraxas is a licensed residential facility for children and youth located at 429 W. Sixth St. As a part of the plea, Dixon agreed to undergo an assessment by the Erie County Adult Probation sexual offender group. In a separate case, he also pleaded no contest to three counts of simple assault. He admitted he drove his car into a yard toward three people on June 12. The charges together carry a maximum possible penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $35,000 fine. Erie County Judge John Garhart set sentencing for April 21. Police said a girl, now 15, told a counselor at the Children's Advocacy Center that Dixon made inappropriate comments to her and touched her breast April 11 as she was getting ready for bed at the residential rehabilitation center for troubled juveniles. Police said a security video from the hallway outside the girl's room showed Dixon standing at her doorway for several minutes. It also showed him entering the room but does not show what happened inside, according to a criminal complaint. The video was at the same time as when the girl said the incident occurred.

Cornell-Abraxas, Howe Township, Pennsylvania
July 7, 2008 Erie Times-News
Four 18-year-olds were jailed over the weekend, charged with causing a riot at a juvenile detention facility in Forest County. State police at Tionesta, along with units from Ridgway, Kane and Clarion, were called to the Cornell Abraxas facility in Howe Township on Saturday at about 10:30 p.m. Police said one juvenile and three staff members were assaulted, although none was seriously hurt. Three buildings were damaged and windows, desks, chairs and other furniture were vandalized, with damage totaling about $5,000, according to police. Derek Barnes, Richard Gale, Rasheed M. Seward, all of Philadelphia, and Vernon L. High, of Chester, were each charged with riot, institutional vandalism, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and corruption of minors, according to police. Police said the four 18-year-olds incited additional juveniles to participate in the riot. The four were arraigned and placed in Warren County Jail with bail set at $25,000 each.

June 11, 2006 The Derrick
A boy escaped from the Cornell Abraxas facility Sunday morning but was captured several hours later, said state police in Tionesta. The 17-year-old youth fled into nearby woods after leaving the juvenile drug and alcohol treatment facility in Howe Township, Forest County, police said. He was found Sunday morning by staff members not far from the facility at 59 Blue Jay Road, police said.

Cornell-Abraxas, Quincy Township, Pennsylvania
November 1, 2004 Public Opinion
A 17-year-old boy allegedly assaulted three Cornell Abraxas staff members at 9 p.m. Thursday at the treatment center in Quincy Township. The boy allegedly punched, kicked and head-butted Leslie Fitch, 27, Chambersburg, David Black, 46, Chambersburg, and Robert Reed, 31, Gettysburg, after they attempted to restrain him, according to police. All three staff members suffered minor injuries, police said.

Cornell Community Corrections Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
June 16, 2008 Deseret News
A federal judge has ordered the dismissal of a sexual misconduct charge against a former employee of a contracted federal halfway house, who was accused of having an affair with an inmate, becoming pregnant. In a ruling issued last Friday, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball said federal prosecutors had insufficient evidence to show that Ashley Ford committed sexual misconduct when she had sexual relations with an inmate, because the sexual relations took place outside of the halfway house and while Ford was off duty. According to court documents, Ford was hired at the Cornell Community Corrections Center in Salt Lake City as a staff monitor in November 2006. The facility houses inmates who can leave the facility during the day to work and then return in the evening to sleep. About a month before she was hired, Ford met inmate Nathan Coccimiglio at a party and was later put in a supervisory position over Coccimiglio at CCC. Records also state that while working at CCC, Ford and Coccimiglio became sexually involved, but that the couple met at Ford's apartment while Coccimiglio was on work release and she was off duty. The record also states Ford became pregnant at the time. Ford argued that she did not have custodial, supervisory or disciplinary authority over Coccimiglio when they were engaged in intimate relations. "There is no evidence that Ms. Ford's conduct occurred 'in' the Cornell facility," Kimball wrote. While the court recognized that there were a variety of reasons to forbid a corrections officer from engaging in sexual conduct with someone in custody, the federal law simply does not prohibit the conduct which took place in Ford's apartment, Kimball added. Ford is one of three CCC employees who have been charged in the past year with alleged misconduct. Two male employees, William Lynn Appawora and Larry Lee Jensen, were both charged with misconduct and sentenced to terms in federal prison. Both men admitted to altering urine drug tests for inmates at the 99-bed facility. Jensen admitted to using his own urine for an inmate's test in exchange for $40. He would also provide advance notice of drug tests and outside visits in exchange for sexual favors from inmates. Appawora was sentenced to 21 months in prison. Jensen was sentenced to 27 months but appealed his sentence. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Jensen's claims and had upheld his sentence as appropriate.

September 20, 2007 Salt Lake City Tribune
The inmates at a halfway house in Salt Lake County knew that a sexual favor or a few dollars slipped to monitor Larry Lee Jensen could allow them to break the rules or keep them out of trouble if they had been drinking or using drugs. For $50, four inmates of Cornell Community Corrections Center were allowed to leave the facility one night to have sex, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated. The Denver-based court also said another inmate got notice from Jensen of urinalysis test dates in exchange for naked pictures of her boyfriend. And those actions, along with numerous other incidents, supported an enhanced prison term of 27 months, the 10th Circuit said Tuesday in upholding Jensen's sentence for altering a record in a federal investigation. The punishment was imposed in April by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene, who determined that Jensen had enabled numerous residents at the halfway house to violate the institution's rules. Greene wrote that Jensen's willingness to give advance notice of urinalysis dates or provide them with his own urine samples "became known to every inmate in the place." Jensen, 38, had argued that his offense of falsifying a record and his other conduct did not call for the enhancement under federal sentencing guidelines. However, the 10th Circuit said Greene's "uncontroverted" finding of "extreme and repetitive conduct" showed that Jensen's crime was far from an isolated occurrence and upheld the enhancement. Cornell Community Corrections is a private company that contracts with the government to house inmates after their release from federal prisons. In 2006, the FBI began investigating allegations of illegal activities by employees in Salt Lake County. According to the 10th Circuit, Jensen admitted taking $40 on April 19, 2006, to urinate into a specimen cup and falsely writing in official paperwork that the inmate had provided the sample in his presence. The appeals court decision said Jensen also admitted in an interview with FBI agents to: * Allowing a male resident, in exchange for a sexual favor, to visit a female resident in violation of center rules. * Providing two residents with advance notice of pending urine submission dates in exchange for the pair agreeing to be photographed in the nude. * Failing to record positive breath tests for certain residents. * Allowing two male residents and two female residents, for $50, to leave the facility during the night so they could have sex. Under a plea deal, Jensen pleaded guilty to one count of falsification of a record in a federal investigation. Another monitor, William Lynn Appawora, admitted to damaging the seal on a urinalysis sample in exchange for $40 so it would not be tested. He was sentenced to 21 months behind bars and did not appeal.

April 6, 2007 Salt Lake City Tribune
A former worker at Cornell Community Corrections Center, a halfway house in Utah for federal inmates, has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for tampering with a urine-test record. Larry Lee Jensen, 38, admitted that he urinated into a specimen cup for a center resident and filled out paperwork saying he had witnessed the inmate providing the sample. The sentence was imposed March 28 by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene.

September 11, 2006 Deseret News
Two employees of a contract federal halfway house have been indicted in the destruction and falsification of urine records of federal inmates. According to federal prosecutors, Lynn Appawora, 37, and Larry Lee Jensen, 38, face up to 20 years in federal prison for destruction, alteration or falsification of a record in a federal investigation. Specifically, federal prosecutors say while the two worked as monitors for the Cornell Community Corrections Center in Salt Lake City they altered drug urine records for federal inmates. The center contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

September 6, 2006 Salt Lake Tribune
An investigation into possible corruption at a Salt Lake City corrections center for federal inmates has resulted in an indictment against two employees there. William Lynn Appawora, 37, and Larry Lee Jensen, both of Salt Lake City, were indicted Friday on one count each of destruction, alteration or falsification of a record in a federal investigation. The two, who are accused of tampering with records of urine tests, face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, if convicted. The probe targeted Cornell Community Corrections Center, a private corporation that contracts to house inmates after they are released from federal prisons outside of Utah. The center also provides services for prisoners who are on federal probation or who have been released from custody pending trial on federal charges. The investigation, which began several months ago, is ongoing, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Cornell Companies, (bought byGEO Group) Houston, Texas
How The Recession Hurts Private Prisons Nancy Cook, Newsweek June 30, 2010

October 25, 2011 AP
The management company that formerly ran a Rhode Island prison is suing the facility's governing body, saying it is owed more than $671,000, according to a complaint filed in federal court. In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Providence, Cornell Corrections of Rhode Island, Inc. says the corporation running the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls still owes money it agreed to pay the firm in 2008. The prison is run by the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation, a quasi-public agency. Cornell Corrections operated Wyatt from its opening in 1993 to July 31, 2007, when the corporation took over, according to a 2009 report on the facility. Cornell Corrections says it reached a deal in 2008 with the corporation over the amount of money it was owed under an earlier agreement. The lawsuit says Wyatt's governing board still hasn't paid. The suit seeks $671,808, plus interest, costs and attorneys' fees. The corporation stopped making full payments to Cornell Corrections in 2006, according to a report released last month by former R.I. Auditor General Ernest A. Almonte. As of August 2007, the corporation owed Cornell Corrections more than $3.9 million, Almonte's report found. The 776-bed facility houses medium- and maximum-security federal detainees awaiting trial or transfer to federal Bureau of Prisons facilities. It lost a contract to house federal immigration detainees after one died in its custody in 2008. The jail has been beset by financial problems in recent years, having lost $6.2 million and taken on $3.5 million in additional debt from 2007 to 2009, Almonte's report said. The city of Central Falls once banked on revenue from the prison, but hasn't been paid in three years. The city filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Attorneys for Cornell Corrections and the corporation did not immediately return messages on Tuesday.

September 1, 2010 Smart Money
Owners of municipal bonds issued to pay for jails might not get to pass Go--and could have trouble collecting interest payments as well. These tax free bonds don't have a monopoly on defaults, but they're well represented among failures and troubled issues among the more speculative classes of municipal bonds. Data from Municipal Market Advisors reveals a slew of tax-free bonds issued to fund construction of privately run prisons and detention facilities in states from Texas to Rhode Island to Montana. The most recent example is Littlefield, a West Texas town of about 6,500 people. Located between the New Mexico border and Buddy Holly's hometown of Lubbock, Littlefield had to dip into reserves to cover payments for about $1.2 in bonds and other debt used to finance the Bill Clayton Detention Center. The bonds were issued in 2000, but the expected revenue stream evaporated when, after a prisoner suicide in 2008, the 310-bed private prison lost its contract to house out-of-state inmates. In 2009, the Geo Group (GEO), formerly known as Wackenhut Security, ended its operating agreement with the detention center, leaving it unoccupied. In April, Fitch Ratings, which in 2009 lowered the bonds to BB from BBB, affirmed a negative rating outlook. Littlefield city manager Danny Davis says the city is scrambling to avoid default on the $780,000 worth of annual payments and plans to cut police and fire service while dramatically raising property taxes when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The property could be sold or could be taken over by the state, though neither option is certain. "It's going to be difficult," he says. "In the meantime, we're just trying to keep our heads above water until we get to a solution." Bob Libal is the Texas campaign coordinator for Grassroots Leadership, a lobbying group which opposes for-profit prisons, and the editor of the blog Texas Prison Bid'ness. He says many small towns agree to build "speculative prisons" to be run by private contractors using municipal bond financing but that many of these projects in a post-Sept. 11 boom have had trouble. Libal criticizes the development groups that get paid up front for building detention centers thus saddling the bond-issuers (usually special public facilities corporations created solely for those projects) with risky debt. "They go after a lot of towns without a lot of sophistication and resources to do the due diligence," Libal says. "If they let the bonds go under, it's very difficult for them to issue any more debt." Matt Fabian, director of research at Municipal Market Advisors, cites similar bond woes in Central Falls, R.I.; Hardin, Mont.; and Baker County, Fla., where about $105 million in total debt has run into trouble because the prison projects haven't worked out as expected. "The incarceration rates drives speculation," he says. "There's an idea that you can profit from this prison trend." Investors in these increasingly-insecure jail bonds have certainly had to assume more risk, even though they get higher yields. The $99 million Central Falls Detention Facility bond issue of 2005 entered technical default in 2009 when it drew on its reserves to make payments. The bonds, issued at par with a yield of 7.25%, last traded at the end of 2009 at 85.3 cents to the dollar, with a yield of 8.69%. Municipal revenue bonds issued in 2002 that funded the West Alabama Youth Services detention facility defaulted in 2005. The bonds last traded in February at 9 cents to the dollar with a yield of 73.6%. Fabian says some of the biggest private prison busts are unlikely to have simple resolutions. A shopping center is easy to repurpose; a detention center is not. "It's hard to restructure," he says. "Even the land underneath a prison isn't worth as much as it was." Even with a resurgent effort by the private prison industry to use their facilities to detain illegal immigrants and an attempt by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to overhaul detention procedures, problems persist. The Baker Correctional Development Corporation, created to finance a correctional facility and immigration detention center west of Jacksonville, Fla., dipped into reserves for its August payment to holders of bonds issued in 2008. With those bonds trading last at 71.25 cents to the dollar with a yield of 20.73%, investors looking to lock up their money should probably seek less risky types of municipal bonds.

August 17, 2010 Market Watch
The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO 22.20, -0.17, -0.76%) ("GEO") announced today the final results of the elections made by former stockholders of Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE: CRN) ("Cornell") as to the form of merger consideration they wish to receive in connection with the acquisition of Cornell by GEO. GEO closed the acquisition on August 12, 2010, after Cornell stockholders approved the transaction at a special meeting and GEO shareholders approved the issuance of shares of GEO common stock issuable as merger consideration at a special meeting.

August 12, 2010 AP
Private prison operator Geo Group Inc. on Thursday disclosed preliminary results of a vote by shareholders of Cornell Companies Inc. on that company's proposed sale to Geo Group. In all, holders of some 15.2 million shares of Cornell common stock voted on Wednesday on how they would like to receive their payout once the company is sold. Holders of about 54.5 percent of the shares elected to receive Geo common stock; 21.5 percent want cash. Another 24 percent didn't make a valid election, Geo Group said. Under the terms of the deal, Cornell shareholders had two options: Receive 1.3 shares of Geo common stock for each Cornell share held, or cash equal to the market value of one Geo share plus $6 or the fair market value of 1.3 shares of Geo common stock, whichever is greater.

July 27, 2010 Charlton County Herald
For years Charlton County Schools got well over $1 million annually in state funds to make up for the county's low tax base. Those dollars have fallen dramatically this year, however to just $27,000. Superintendent Steve McQueen believes local system funding has changed because of errors in the county tax digest. Because of the drop, the Charlton County Board of Education voted unanimously last week to appeal the digest to the state auditor’s office. “Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is get the equalization board to exercise their discretion and adjust our funding,” explained BOE
Attorney Kelly Brooks. “When the state auditor’s office receives our appeal, they will notify the state department of education to hold off on the final determination of our funding for 2011.” The lawyer says this will buy the school system 45 more days, time enough the school board hopes, for the Charlton County Tax Assessor’s office to come up with an accurate tax digest. “There have been substantial post-levy reductions in the digest through timber tax appeals and Cornell’s appeal [on the D. Ray James Prison valuation],” said Brooks. “Call me skeptical but for six years in a row the county’s certified digest has meant nothing.” Last year for example, Charlton County’s certified digest was $332 million but the county, school board and cities never collected taxes on that amount. After the state approved the digest, but before payments started coming in, the digest dropped by $16.5 million because of the prison appeal. That one reduction amounted to a loss in property tax revenues to the school system last year of $252,000.

June 22, 2010 DOJ Press Release
ROBERT B. SURLES, 64, of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Clarence Cooper to federal prison on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud for his part in a scheme to defraud the operator of a California corrections facility of almost $13 million. United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “This defendant was part of an elaborate fraud scheme that ironically involved the construction of a prison. He will now experience how business is conducted inside a real prison.” SURLES was sentenced to 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,417,500. SURLES was found guilty of one count of conspiracy and 15 counts of wire fraud by a federal jury at the conclusion of a two-week trial on February 19, 2010. SURLES’ co-defendants, EDGAR G. BEAUDREAULT, JR. and HOWARD A. SPERLING, were sentenced to federal prison terms on April 29, 2010, following their pleas of guilty. Both cooperated with the government and testified in SURLES’ trial. BEAUDREAULT is currently serving a prison sentence of three years, one month. SPERLING is currently serving a prison sentence of five years, 10 months. According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: From August 2003 through January 2004, BEAUDREAULT, SPERLING and SURLES conspired to defraud Cornell Corrections of California, Inc., a private company that operates corrections facilities for various governmental units. In June 2003, Cornell Corrections contracted to have a corrections facility built in Canon City, Colorado for $13 million. The $13 million purchase price was to be held in an escrow account until the facility was completed. In August 2003, the defendants induced Cornell Corrections to transfer its $13 million to an account in Atlanta, which they controlled, by falsely representing to Cornell that the account was an escrow account that was administered by a reputable bank. Upon receipt of Cornell Corrections’ $13 million, the defendants wire transferred the majority of Cornell’s $13 million to other accounts, to be used for their own purposes. Under the terms of their contract, the defendants were also to obtain a construction loan on behalf of “Western Comfort, Inc.” the general contractor who began construction of the facility. No loan was secured, making Western Comfort another victim of this scheme. This case was investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Bernita B. Malloy and David E. McClernan prosecuted the case.

June 2, 2010 Yahoo Business Wire
The GEO Group (NYSE: GEO - News) and Cornell Companies (NYSE: CRN - News) announced today that the waiting-period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 with respect to the previously announced proposed merger of GEO and Cornell Companies (NYSE:CRN - News) has expired as of 11:59 pm on Tuesday, June 1, 2010, effectively clearing the transaction by the United States Federal Trade Commission and the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division. The closing of the transaction remains subject to GEO and Cornell stockholder approval, and other customary conditions to closing. GEO and Cornell continue to expect that the transaction will close in the third quarter of 2010.

April 29, 2010 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An Alpharetta man was sentenced Thursday to three years and five months in prison for bilking a Colorado corrections facility project out of nearly $13 million. Edgar J. Beaudreault Jr. pleaded guilty in December to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In 2003, Beaudreault, 61, and San Diego co-defendant Howard Sperling tricked Cornell Corrections of California Inc. into transferring $13 million into an Atlanta account that was supposed to be an escrow account for the purchase price of a Canon City, Colo., facility under construction, court authorities said. Rather than having the escrow administered by a reputable bank, Beaudreault and Sperling wired the money to other accounts for their own personal use. Under the same contract, the two men and another defendant also were supposed to obtain a construction loan on behalf of the general contractor on the project, but didn’t. “These defendants were part of an elaborate fraud scheme that ironically involved the construction of a prison,” U.S. attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. “They will now experience how business is conducted inside a real prison.” In addition to the federal prison sentence, Beaudreault is required to serve three years on supervised release and pay $5.4 million in restitution.

April 29, 2010 PR Log
An investor in CRN shares filed a lawsuit in Texas State Court on behalf of current investors in Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN) alleging breaches of fiduciary duty by the Cornell board of directors for selling Cornell Companies too cheaply to The GEO Group. If you currently hold shares of Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN), you have certain options and you should contact the Shareholders Foundation, Inc by email at mail@shareholdersfoundation.com or call +1 (858) 779 – 1554. Cornell Companies, Inc., located in Houston, Texas, is a provider of correctional, detention, educational, rehabilitation and treatment services outsourced by federal, state, county and local government agencies for adults and juveniles. On April 19, 2010, Cornell Companies (NYSE:CRN) and the GEO Group (NYSE:GEO) announced a merger agreement pursuant to which The GEO Group will acquire Cornell Companies for stock and/or cash at an estimated enterprise value of $685 million based on the closing prices of both companies' stocks on April 16, 2010, including the assumption of approximately $300 million in Cornell debt, excluding cash. Under the terms of the definitive agreement, stockholders of Cornell will a value of approximately $24.96 per Cornell (CRN) share. According to Cornell Companies the Boards of Directors have approved the merger agreement and the offer represents a 35 percent premium over the closing price of Cornell's stock (CRN) on April 16, 2010. Shares of Cornell Companies, Inc. (CRN) traded after the takeover announcement at $24.74 per share, and at $18.62 per share the trading day before the news. CRN shares were down from its 52weekHigh of $25.13 per share, and from $27.71 per share in 2008. At least one analyst set a price target for Cornell stock at $29.00 per share. On April 27, 2010, an investor filed a lawsuit against members of the board of directors, Cornell Companies Inc and The Geo Group over breaches of fiduciary duty arising out of the attempt to sell Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN) to the GEO Group. According to the complaint the plaintiff alleges, among other things, that the proposed acquisition is intended to take advantage of Cornell’s temporarily low current valuation and that the agreement contains certain provisions, like the $12million termination fee and “no shop” provision that unduly benefit GEO Group by making an alternative transaction either prohibitively expensive or otherwise impossible.

April 24, 2010 Grits For Breakfast
Texas Prison Bidness brings word that the Geo Group gobbled up yet another competitor, adding to its already enormous debt load and making it the second largest private prison company on the planet, behind Corrections Corporation of America. Reported the Financial Times: The Geo Group offered about $385m for Cornell Companies in a mixture of cash and stock, valuing the company at about $24.96 a share. The company will also take on about $300m of Cornell debt. The Geo Group's most recent 10K statement is really quite an amazing read, for anyone interested, particularly the lengthy section on risk factors, where the possibility is raised that a quarter-billion dollars in unsecured bonds issued privately last fall might be considered a "fraudulent conveyance" if the company defaults and a bankruptcy judge ever takes a close look at the deal. Facing a mountain of debt, mostly from acquiring competitors, this appears to be a pretty critical year for the Geo Group, with contracts up for renewal on almost one in five beds they operate. According to the 10-K: "As of January 3, 2010, eleven of our facility management contracts representing 10,407 beds are scheduled to expire on or before December 31, 2010, unless renewed by the customer at its sole option. These contracts represented 19.3% of our consolidated revenues for the fiscal year ended January 3, 2010." Other risks identified in Geo's 10-K include: •Our significant level of indebtedness could adversely affect our financial condition and prevent us from fulfilling our debt service obligations. •A decrease in occupancy levels could cause a decrease in revenues and profitability. •State budgetary constraints may have a material adverse impact on us. •Public resistance to privatization of correctional and detention facilities could result in our inability to obtain new contracts or the loss of existing contracts, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. •Adverse publicity may negatively impact our ability to retain existing contracts and obtain new contracts. •We may face community opposition to facility location, which may adversely affect our ability to obtain new contracts. •We may not be able to obtain or maintain the insurance levels required by our government contracts.

April 19, 2010 Palm Beach Post
Private prison operator The GEO Group Inc. (NYSE: GEO, $18.91) has agreed to buy rival Cornell Cos. in a deal worth about $685 million, including the assumption of about $300 million of Cornell's debt. The merger is a move to expand to meet increasing demand for private correctional facilities and services, the companies said in a release.

February 26, 2010 AP
Cornell Cos. Inc.'s sales and profit will decline if the state of Arizona removes inmates from the company's Oklahoma prison, an analyst said as he downgraded the prison operator's shares. First Analysis Securities analyst Todd Van Fleet downgraded the Houston company to "equal weight" from "overweight." The January budget proposals from Arizona's governor and legislature would phase out the use of private out-of-state beds. Arizona is struggling to close budget shortfalls. Van Fleet said there was less than a 25 percent chance that Cornell would be able to persuade legislators to keep Arizona inmates in the company's Oklahoma prison. The loss of the Arizona prisoners which could cut into Cornell's annual earnings by 35 cents to 45 cents per share. Van Fleet cut his estimate for 2010 profit to $1.09 per share from $1.69 per share, and his 2010 sales estimate to $398 million from $440.6 million. On Wednesday, when it released fourth-quarter earnings, Cornell predicted it would make $1.31 to $1.41 per share in 2010. The guidance assumed that Cornell would continue to keep all its Arizona inmates for the rest of the year. The contract for the Arizona prisoners ends in mid-September, Van Fleet said. Cornell shares slipped 13 cents to $18.61 in midday trading. They have dropped about 25 percent since Arizona proposed its budget in mid-January.

February 23, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
A Chicago man who pocketed $605,000 in construction funds during the building of a youth treatment facility here was convicted Friday of conspiracy and wire fraud. A federal jury in Atlanta found Robert B. Surles, 64, guilty of conspiracy and 15 counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to steal nearly $13 million from Cornell Co., which built the Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center in 2003. From Aug. 2003 to Jan. 2004, Surles, along with Edgar Beaudreault, 60, of Georgia, and Howard Sperling, 45, of San Diego, conspired to defraud Cornell of construction funds. Surles was to obtain a $12 million construction loan, but he and his co-defendants never obtained financing for the project and instead led the contractor to believe they had. The trio falsely represented that the funds were in an escrow account, but instead the money was transferred to other accounts. Although some money was used to get the construction started, the majority of funds was taken by the trio for personal purposes. The evidence at trial showed Surles took $605,000 of the funds, according to Patrick Crosby, public affairs officer for the United States Attorney's office in Atlanta. "This defendant fraudulently induced a company to transfer approximately $13 million into an ‘escrow account’ that turned out to be nothing but a piggy bank for the defendant and his co-conspirators," said Sally Quillian Yates, acting U.S. Attorney in Atlanta. "A federal jury was not fooled by the story he told when he testified and convicted him on conspiracy and multiple counts of fraud." Both Beaudreault and Sperling pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and testified against Surles. All three are awaiting sentencing for the crime and Surles is slated to be sentenced April 27.

January 22, 2010 Times-Union
The Charlton County Commission, the county school system and Folkston are all hastily adjusting their budgets after a single successful appeal of a property assessment. Commissioners are expected to approve an "error and relief" agreement in February to reduce the assessed value of privately owned D. Ray James Prison from $97 million to $55 million. The successful appeal by Cornell Companies, owners and operators of the prison, will cost the city, county and school system at least $730,000 in anticipated tax revenue. County Manager Steve Nance said Cornell appealed the assessed value of the prison after it nearly doubled in 2009. Two new structures - an addition that will house 700 inmates this year and another facility for 300 prisoners from both Charlton County and the U.S. Marshals Service - were on the tax rolls for the first time this year, likely leading to the increase in value, Nance said. During the appeal, Cornell officials didn't dispute the accuracy of the appraisal of the facility. Instead, they argued it would be impossible to sell the sprawling prison complex for what the company invested because the structures are for very specialized purposes - to securely house inmates. They also claimed the original part of the prison, more than a decade old, had depreciated in value, Nance said. "They contended the value did not equal the cost," he said. The property appraiser who determined the appraised value never visited the prison until after Cornell filed an appeal, Nance said. Instead, the appraiser determined the value from manuals, he said. "She did not actually tour the facility until the appeal was made," he said. "After the tour, she agreed the value was too high. It was a lot more austere than she thought." Despite the hardship losing an estimated $334,000 in anticipated tax revenue, Nance said county officials have no plans to contest the ruling by the Board of Assessors. "It would be difficult for us to appeal our own valuation," he said. Also, there is no appeal process unless the complaint is taken to the Board of Equalization by the property owner, Nance said. "Is there any recourse [for Folkston and the school district]?" Nance asked. "I don't think they have the right to challenge this." Now, the already cash-strapped county will maintain a "continuous evaluation process" to cut spending to make up for the shortfall, Nance said. Folkston City Manager Pender Lloyd said the appeal will cost his city at least $108,000 in anticipated tax revenue - nearly a 5 percent cut to the city's $2.4 million budget. "We knew Cornell was probably going to appeal," Lloyd said. "We certainly had no idea it [the prison's value] would drop by $42 million." Lloyd criticized the timing, saying one appeal should not have so much impact to local governments. An appeal of the magnitude of Cornell's should have been resolved before the county digest was completed to give local governments an accurate estimate of how much revenue would be generated in taxes. The city will delay some projects planned this year, including construction of a new park, he said. Travel to conferences and training is also canceled, unless it is required by law, Lloyd said. "We have some revenues built up, so we can handle it," he said. "We're all affected and we've got to work through this thing. We've got to deal with it."

May 20, 2009 Yahoo.com
Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN) today announced that it has been informed by the Georgia Department of Corrections that the Department will not start using the Company's recently completed expansion at its D. Ray James Prison in Georgia. The Company's previous guidance, included in the first quarter earnings release, provided a base case that assumed that the 700-bed expansion at D. Ray James Prison would begin to ramp at the beginning of the third quarter of 2009, and an alternate case that, if the expansion was to remain empty for all of 2009, earnings for the full year would be reduced by up to approximately $0.08 per share. Today's updated guidance assumes that the expansion will remain empty for the remainder of the year. As a result, the Company now expects earnings per share for the full year of $1.62 to $1.70. The Company also reaffirmed the earnings guidance range for the second quarter of $0.42 to $0.46 per share.

December 17, 2008 AP
A Georgia businessman has admitted taking part in a scheme to defraud a California construction company of nearly $13 million. Edgar J. Beaudreault of Alpharetta pleaded guilty Wednesday in Atlanta to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Federal prosecutors say Beaudreault, 60, and two others conspired to defraud Cornell Corrections of California Inc., which operates private corrections facilities. In 2003, Cornell was hired to build a prison in Canon City, Colo., and the $13 million purchase price was to be placed in escrow until completion. Cornell was induced to transfer the money to an Atlanta account, and most of it was then diverted to other accounts. Beaudreault could receive up to 20 years in prison and be fined $250,000 at sentencing March 18.

August 26, 2008 Atlanta Business Chronicle
An Alpharetta, Ga., man is among a group indicted Tuesday on charges of fraud related to a prison-building contract in Colorado. Edgar J. Beaudreault Jr., 60, of Alpharetta, Howard A. Sperling, 43, of San Diego, and Robert B. Surles, 62, of Canon City, Colo., were indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple charges. The indictment alleges from August 2003 through January 2004, the men concocted a scheme to defraud Cornell Corrections of California Inc., a private company based in Ventura that operates corrections facilities for governmental units. In June 2003, Cornell Corrections contracted to have a corrections facility built in Canon City, Colo., for $13 million. The money was to be held in an escrow account until the facility was completed. But in August 2003, the men allegedly got Cornell Corrections to transfer the $13 million to an account in Atlanta controlled by Beaudreault, and allegedly told Cornell the account was an escrow account administered by a reputable bank. After the transfer was made into the Atlanta account, the indictment claims the men then transferred the $13 million to other accounts to be used for their own purposes. The indictment charges 20 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.

August 12, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who made his fortune off private halfway houses in Alaska, pleaded guilty Monday to two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won. Weimar had a long-standing relationship with the candidate running in the 2004 primary, a charging document filed Monday said. Weimar held a "contingent interest" in a private prison project worth $5.5 million, but only if the project was completed, the charges say. He faces prison time in the plea deal and may have to forfeit "certain property." Prosecutors estimate a sentence of 10 to 16 months. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick isn't bound to that. He set sentencing for Oct. 29. Weimar, who owned Allvest Inc., becomes the 11th person charged in the broad, ongoing investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice into political corruption in Alaska. Weimar, 68, now lives in Big Arm, Mont. At the brief hearing on Monday, Weimar answered the judge's routine questions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini outlined the two charges: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and illegally manipulating currency transactions to avoid reporting them to the Treasury Department. Weimar has admitted paying the consultant a total of $20,000 during the primary in August 2004 to cover expenses for the candidate, without reporting the payments and without routing them through the campaign. How do you plead? Sedwick asked. "Guilty," Weimar answered, to each charge. LAWMAKER NOT NAMED -- For years, Weimar pushed plans for a private prison in Alaska, but the project was always controversial and no prison was ever built. A Democratic activist in the 1970s, Weimar later became close to the Republicans who controlled the Alaska Legislature. Neither the Senate candidate nor the consultant -- both accused of conspiring with Weimar -- is named in the charging document. Prosecutors declined to expand on it Monday. But the candidate described in the documents, and in court Monday, appears to be former state Sen. Jerry Ward. He didn't return phone calls or e-mail messages on Monday. Ward, a Republican elected from Anchorage in 1996 and the Kenai Peninsula in 2000, fervently pushed private prison projects as a legislator. The charging document says the candidate running in 2004 had a long relationship with Weimar, and held elected office part of that time. Ward and Weimar were "buddies," according to a statement that former lobbyist Bill Bobrick, who worked for Weimar, gave to the FBI in September 2006. Bobrick also has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation. He declined to comment on Monday. In 1997, a plan for a private prison in South Anchorage with Allvest and Veco Corp. as partners crumbled under strong public opposition. As that project evaporated, Ward emerged as the lead architect of a new plan to build private prisons in the Mat-Su and Seward. "By God, this really solves the problem," Weimar was quoted as saying at the time. In 2001, Ward signed on as the only Senate sponsor of a House bill pushing a private prison on the Kenai. The charging document against Weimar doesn't say whether the candidate won in 2004 and does not call the person a legislator. Ward lost his seat in 2002 to Tom Wagoner. He was trying to regain it in 2004, but lost in the Republican primary to Wagoner. SEATTLE CONSULTANT -- In court Monday, Bottini told the judge the consultant was from Seattle. Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash. Numerous calls left for Madison principal Brett Bader on Monday were not returned. The charges against Weimar and other court documents quote details of a number of telephone conversations he had with the consultant and the candidate from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2004. In a telephone conversation on Aug. 17, 2004, the consultant told Weimar that the campaign was having money trouble, court documents say. "I'm worried we're reaching the limit now. I don't know where we find 10 grand unless (Candidate A) can get more in," the consultant said "There's no legal way to do that. At least not on that scale," Weimar responded. Later that day, Weimar arranged to cover the next advertising mailer for the candidate, and told the candidate so, the document says. On Aug. 20, 2004, Weimar told the candidate of an unpaid invoice of $20,000 with the consultant. The candidate's campaign funds were depleted, the charges say. The candidate said he had only $300 to $400 left in his account. On Aug. 23, 2004, Weimar made arrangements with the consultant to pay off the debt, the charges say. He then called the candidate and told him "he would not be receiving any further bills from Consultant A," the charging document says. Weimar sent the consulting company a $3,000 check on Aug. 23, 2004, then sent $8,500 in cash that same day by express mail, and another $8,500 cash the day after, the charges say. "WE'VE MOVED ON" -- The charges also do not name the private prison company, but Cornell Corrections Inc. tried to build a prison in various Alaska communities, including Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The charging document describes the unnamed company's Alaska interests as halfway houses, a planned juvenile treatment center, and a private prison project, and that matches Cornell's interests. In 1998, in the midst of planning for a private prison in Delta Junction, Weimar sold five Alaska halfway houses to Cornell for $21 million. He also formed a partnership with Cornell to pursue the Delta prison and subsequent deals for a private facility. One goal of the conspiracy was to get the private prison company to give campaign contributions to the candidate to help win election, according to the charges. A spokesman for Cornell said the company was unaware of the charges but supports the prosecution. The executives now in charge of Cornell weren't there at the time of the events that involved Weimar, spokesman Charles Seigel said Monday. Company records don't show any evidence of wrongdoing, he added. "We've moved on and we are very different and have it behind us," Seigel said. Cornell also has not pursued a private prison in Alaska for years and is no longer interested in that, he said. "We're glad this investigation is going on but whatever was going on or may have been going on in the past, that is not the Cornell that exists now, both in the policy on the private prison as we've talked about and in general about the way we do business." By 2004, Veco was no longer involved in the prison project, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, Cornell consultant and FBI informant, has said. ANDERSON INVOLVED -- The failed private prison effort was also central in the government's case against former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, now in prison. At Anderson's corruption trial last summer, Prewitt was a key witness who testified at length about his undercover work to collect evidence against Anderson, and also about questionable acts in his own past. From the witness stand, Prewitt said that in 1994 -- when he was corrections commissioner and Weimar owned Allvest -- he accepted $30,000 from Weimar. Prewitt testified that he considered the money a loan, which he repaid the next year, after he left his state post, by working four months for Allvest for free. Weimar helped start Allvest in 1985, then bought out his partners and turned it into a multimillion dollar corporation with operations in Alaska and Washington state. Its government contracts were worth an estimated $10 million a year. Allvest also operated a lab that did contract urinalysis work, and used to run the city's Animal Control Center and the Community Service Patrol. In 2002, Allvest was forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid judgments in civil suits against the company. The bankruptcy case eventually was settled.

July 15, 2008 The Daily Cougar
As Sen. Barack Obama wages his presidential campaign across the United States with political gusto, he's attracted names such as Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Edwards. University of Houston Associate Professor of Law Tony Chase has also temporarily shifted his duties as a professor to become a member of the National Finance Committee of Obama's campaign. "I've known (Obama) for quite some time, and I was one of the people he asked whether if he should run," Chase said. "Because of that, this is very personal, and I genuinely believe he is best for this country." Aside from teaching, Chase is chairman and CEO of ChaseCom L.P. and Chase Radio Partners. He is also chairman and co-founder, together with SBC Communications Inc., of The Telecom Opportunity Institute, an organization that provides technical literacy training at no cost to at-risk communities. He serves as a director of Leap Wireless International Inc. and Cornell Companies Inc., and is chairman of the Houston Zoo Development Board. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as a director of the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast and Houston Parks. Chase began teaching communications law and contracts at the UH Law Center in 1990 and received the Edith Baker Faculty Award in 1994. On July 8, he stepped down as the director of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank to dedicate more time to the campaign. "I can't pick out a certain experience, but teaching graduate law and undergraduate classes has been particularly helpful in preparing me, because students are the future and full of ideas that in turn help me think about today's issues," Chase said. "My experience at the University helps me by being part of the excitement and interest among young and potential voters." As for his motives, he believes that the nation, in its current state, needs Obama as president. "I've known Barack and Michelle for a long time, and based on that, I believe he is a transcendent political figure," Chase said. "I know him well and his integrity and how he responds to pressure, but also how he will be an excellent leader." As the member of the National Finance Committee for the campaign, he helps make decisions on how the campaign will utilize its funds and how the fundraising will be run. He also performs special projects such as arranging meetings with constituents and senior advisors. "The experience I gain from the campaign will only help the way I try to bring practical experience to the classroom, and this is actually quite relevant to what I teach at the University," Chase said. Chase will return to teach in the fall and resume his usual duties for his organizations. "I will still do what I can to accommodate my teaching responsibilities and campaign duties and continue to voice my support for Barack Obama," Chase said.

January 23, 2007 Market Watch
Cornell Companies, Inc. announced that, at a special meeting of its shareholders held earlier today, a proposal to merge with the Veritas Capital Fund III, L.P., was rejected. As a result of this vote by shareholders, Cornell will continue to operate as a stand-alone publicly-traded entity. Although the company has not yet announced the timing of its fourth quarter earnings conference call, management intends to use such forum to provide further commentary on the transaction, as well as to discuss any changes to the previously-released 2007 guidance that was made public as a result of the transaction process.

January 19, 2007 AP
Alpine Associates, a Cornell Cos. (CRN) shareholder, plans to vote against Cornell's plan to be acquired by Veritas Capital Fund for $18.25 a share. Alpine and related entities own 631,700 shares, representing a 4.49% stake. Thursday, shares of private-prison operator Cornell closed at $18.90, up 16 cents. Alpine said "the current transaction does not fairly value Cornell's shares." Other shareholders have expressed opposition to the deal.

October 9, 2006 Market Watch
Cornell Companies, Inc. (CRN : news, chart, profile ) announced today the execution of a definitive merger agreement with Veritas Capital, under which Veritas will acquire Cornell in a transaction valued at approximately $518.6 million, including the assumption or repayment of approximately $273.6 million in debt. Under the terms of the agreement, Cornell stockholders will receive $18.25 in cash for each share of common stock they hold. The Company's Board of Directors has unanimously approved the agreement and will recommend that Cornell's stockholders approve the merger. James E. Hyman, Cornell's chairman and chief executive officer, said, "The Board of Directors has completed a comprehensive review of the strategic alternatives available to the Company, the result of which we are pleased to announce today. The Board endorses this transaction and believes it to be in the best interest of Cornell's shareholders. Veritas Capital is a private equity investment firm headquartered in New York. Founded in 1992 by Robert B. McKeon, Veritas invests primarily in companies specializing in outsourcing services to the government, primarily in the areas of defense and aerospace, security and infrastructure. Veritas' portfolio of companies includes, or has included, DynCorp International, Integrated Defense Technologies, Vertex Aerospace, McNeil Technologies, The Wornick Company, and TRAK Communications, among others. Veritas is dedicated to providing the highest level of critical services and equipment to the defense and federal sectors around the world. For more information, please visit www.veritascapital.com.

September 29, 2006 New York Times
Pirate Capital, a $1.7 billion fund based in Norwalk, Conn., lost half its investment team this week, according to a letter from the founder and portfolio manager, Thomas Hudson. In addition, Pirate, an “activist” fund that pressures management to increase shareholder value, is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission on suspicion of failing to alert the commission when it was selling stock, according to one person briefed on the inquiry. Mr. Hudson’s letter, dated Sept. 28 and on stationery with a pirate ship logo, said that Pirate would close to new investors Sunday, to focus on delivering returns rather than collecting more money. “I’ve decided to return the firm to its roots,” Mr. Hudson wrote. “The goal is to focus on returns and not the size of the assets we manage.” Pirate Capital has had a difficult year: its flagship Jolly Roger Fund is up only 3.3 percent, while its activist fund is up 2.86 percent, according to materials sent to investors. Those returns are well below the average activist fund. Hedge Fund Research in Chicago tracks the returns of 44 funds that operate solely activist strategies; through August those funds have returned 10.39 percent. An S.E.C. spokesman, John Nester, declined to comment. Isa Bolotin, head of investor relations at Pirate Capital, did not return calls seeking comment. Pirate is known for its unusually brash tactics and unabashed style. A New York magazine cover article reported that Zachary George, 27, an analyst with the firm and former competitive snowboarder, told the chief executive of the Cornell Companies, a prison operator, that “You work for us,” and that Mr. George and Pirate wanted Cornell sold and the chief executive sacked. “Next year we’re going to be here, and you won’t,” Mr. George told the chief executive, according to the article. Mr. Hudson said two investment professionals, including Mr. George, resigned on Monday. On Wednesday, Carl Klein, a portfolio manager, resigned, and Mr. Hudson asked two more analysts to leave. Five people, including Mr. Hudson, remain. The S.E.C. is investigating whether Pirate was late in reporting to the commission material changes in its holdings. Investors with at least a 5 percent stake must report any changes to those holdings.

August 28, 2006 Yahoo.com
Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN - News) announced today that Mark S. Croft, the General Counsel and Secretary of the Company, resigned on Saturday, August 26, 2006, to attend to personal matters unrelated to his role as an officer of the Company. Patrick N. Perrin, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, has been appointed to the office of Secretary of the Company to succeed Mr. Croft.

June 5, 2006 Houston Business Journal
Cornell Companies Inc. on Monday afternoon said it has retained a financial advisor to assist the Houston operator of prisons in analyzing ways "to maximize shareholder value." The announcement, which came in a brief news release distributed Monday after the regular session of the stock market closed, essentially puts Cornell (NYSE: CRN - News) on the block as a candidate to be acquired. Beyond making the brief statement about hiring a financial advisor, Cornell in the Monday release said the prison operator does not intend to make further announcements on the matter until the NYSE-listed company "has made definitive decisions on its future strategic direction." No assurance can be given that any transaction will be pursued," according to the Cornell press release.

February 10, 2006 Yahoo
Cornell Companies, Inc. announced today the settlement of a securities class action lawsuit. In re Cornell Companies, Inc. Securities Litigation was originally filed by certain Cornell stockholders in March 2002 on behalf of all purchasers of Cornell's common stock from March 6, 2001 to March 5, 2002. The Company has agreed to settle this class action lawsuit for $7.0 million to avoid further protracted and expensive litigation. The settlement amount will be funded through the Company's directors' and officers' liability insurance and will have no impact on the Company's financial position, results of operations or cash flows. Under the terms of the settlement, Cornell has not admitted to any wrongdoing.

September 29, 2005 Star-Telegram
In a move denounced as a political witchhunt, Rep. Tom DeLay was indicted Wednesday with two associates on a felony charge of conspiring to circumvent Texas' prohibition of corporate campaign donations to secure the Republican takeover of the Texas House in 2002. Shortly after Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle announced the indictment, the Republican congressman from Sugar Land resigned his powerful majority leader post in Washington, at least temporarily. DeLay, 58, is accused of conspiring with two associates to convert $190,000 in donations from several corporations into campaign contributions on behalf of seven Republican candidates who were involved in what many had believed would be close contests for seats in the Texas House.

September 28, 2005 Bloomberg
U.S. Representative Tom DeLay, the No. 2 Republican in the House, was indicted by a Texas grand jury for criminal conspiracy in connection with illegal corporate political donations, prompting him to give up his leadership post. Two former campaign aides, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, were also charged with conspiracy by the state grand jury in Travis County, according to the single-count indictment. The charge stems from an investigation into alleged use of illegal corporate contributions by DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, in the 2002 races for the state House of Representatives. The four-page indictment charges that DeLay conspired with Ellis and Colyandro to use donations from companies including Williams Companies Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., now Sears Holdings Corp., to help finance the election campaigns of seven members of the Texas House in 2002. Under Texas law, corporations aren't permitted to donate to candidates. Other companies named, but like Williams and Sears, not charged in the indictment were Diversified Collections Services Inc., Cornell Companies Inc., Bacardi U.S.A. Inc. and Questerra Corp.

September 22, 2005 Texas Lawyer
A private corrections company seeks to hold Locke Liddell & Sapp liable for more than $5 million that's allegedly missing from an account set up for a land deal. Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. sued Locke Liddell and David Montgomery, a partner in the firm, alleging malpractice, among other things. The company filed Cornell Companies Inc. v. Locke Liddell & Sapp, et al. on Aug. 26 in Houston's 333rd District Court. In its petition, Cornell alleges that the defendants "dropped the ball" by failing to ensure that a proper escrow account was set up in 2003 to hold the company's funds. Those funds were intended to be used to buy land in Colorado on which to develop a regional correctional rehabilitation center. As alleged in the petition, the defendants gave Cornell the "green light" to wire almost $13 million into an account that was purported to be an escrow account. "There was no escrow agent; there was no escrow account," alleges Scott Hershman, one of the attorneys representing Cornell. The suit against Locke Liddell is related to a suit that a Cornell subsidiary filed last year in the Superior Court of Fulton County in Atlanta. Cornell alleged in its second amended complaint in Cornell Corrections of California Inc. v. Longboat Global Advisors, et al. that attorney Edgar J. Beaudreault of Roswell, Ga., a defendant in the suit, handled the construction loan transaction on behalf of Longboat, which was providing financing for the corrections facility project. Cornell Corrections alleged in the Georgia complaint that Beaudreault, who is also Longboat's vice president and managing director, arranged for the escrow account but it turned out to be a regular bank account. Cornell Corrections further alleged in the complaint that, although the company wired the funds to Bank of America in August 2003, it didn't learn until November of that year that the bank was not holding money in escrow and that a withdrawal never authorized by Cornell Corrections had been made. Hershman, a partner in Lackey Hershman in Dallas, says he doesn't expect Cornell Corrections will be able to collect the damages awarded in the Georgia case, because he thinks the money is gone. Michael Shaunessy, an Austin, Texas, attorney who represents plaintiffs in legal malpractice cases but is not involved in Cornell's suit against Locke Liddell, says the fact that a company hires lawyers to handle this type of transaction doesn't eliminate the company's responsibility to exercise due diligence in the matter.
Shaunessy, a partner in Shaunessy & Burnett, says he expects Locke Liddell and Montgomery to raise a causation defense, arguing that those who took the money out of the account caused Cornell's loss. Cornell can argue that, if the defendants had set up the account so that the money couldn't be moved without the company's authorization, Cornell would not have suffered the loss, he says.

August 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A state district judge refused Tuesday to dismiss charges of money laundering and accepting illegal political contributions against two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. Judge Bob Perkins denied arguments from John Colyandro and Jim Ellis that the charges were based on an unconstitutionally vague law and that the indictments were improperly worded. Lawyers for Colyandro, who worked for DeLay's fundraising committee Texans for a Republican Majority, and Jim Ellis, who worked for Americans for a Republican Majority, have said they will appeal, likely delaying any trial for at least several months. The charges stem from the 2002 Texas legislative elections. The money-laundering charges are based on $190,000 in corporate money that was sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee.

June 3, 2005 Houston Business Journal
Insurgent shareholder Pirate Capital LLC has captured the board of Cornell Cos. Inc. Pirate gained control of the Houston-based prison operator last month after setting sail on a proxy fight that originated a year earlier. Toting a treasure trove of Cornell common shares -- a 14.8 percent stake as of mid-May -- the Connecticut-based investment firm emerged with the right to put seven directors on Cornell's nine-member board. Cornell controls the remaining two seats on the board, which increased from seven to nine members as part of a new agreement with Pirate. "It appeared that (Cornell) had been heading for a distracting and costly proxy battle," notes Scott Schneeberger, a stock analyst at Lehman Brothers. Cornell also got Pirate to concede that the investment firm will not pursue a transaction to take the publicly traded Houston company private for at least the next two years. At the same time, Cornell Chairman James Hyman will no longer steer the board of directors after the end of this month. Despite 20 years of experience in operations, finance, process management, mergers and acquisitions, Hyman's name is conspicuously missing from the slate of nominees for the new board.

March 11, 2005 The Deal
True to its swashbuckling name, hedge fund Pirate Capital LLC is preparing to make a run at struggling Cornell Cos., a prison and juvenile-facilities operator. Since last year, Houston-based Cornell has been under pressure from Thomas R. Hudson Jr., portfolio manager at the 2-year-old Norwalk Conn.-based hedge fund, to seek a buyer. After a series of missteps by Cornell, Pirate's Jolly Roger Fund LP launched a proxy contest on Feb. 24 to take over all seven seats on Cornell's board at an annual meeting expected in June. "You can just see the shots being fired across the bow of Cornell," says Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst at Fulcrum Global Partners LLC in New York. Skolnick says a strategic acquirer would pay roughly $20.50 a share for the assets — $270 million in equity plus $112 million in debt. Cornell traded early last week at around $14.40 a share. Anton Hie, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in Nashville, says a strategic acquirer would value Cornell at $16 to $18 a share, and would cut costs by eliminating overhead and other administrative expenses. A financial buyer could break up the company and sell various facilities "in pieces," Hie says. Skolnick, whose firm does not do work for Cornell, cites Nashville-based Correction Corp. of America and Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., the two largest private providers of adult-prison management services in the U.S., as likely buyers. Hie, whose firm does not own Cornell stock, says CCA and Geo might be more interested in Cornell's adult facilities, but he would not estimate a valuation on these assets. Privately held Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, could also be interested, Skolnick says. She and other analysts say the other major player in the industry, Sarasota, Fla.-based Corrections Services Corp., is smaller than Cornell and unlikely to make a bid. "These publicly traded companies are interested in growing, and acquiring Cornell would help them improve their bottom line," says a corrections consultant. Officials for CCA and Geo did not return calls seeking comment. Cornell posted a loss of $897,000 for the third quarter of fiscal 2004, the latest results available, compared with a profit of $1.4 million a year earlier, even as sales rose to $74.7 million from $68.6 million. The company has made some internal changes. In January it hired James Hyman to replace outgoing CEO Harry Phillips. Skolnick says Hyman has some real estate experience but "may not know what he's gotten himself into." Pirate Capital, which has a 14.8% Cornell stake, has yet to offer an opinion of Hyman. As part of a broad strategy to learn shareholder concerns, Hyman has met with numerous investors, including activist hedge fund managers, since he took over in January. He has also huddled with Pirate officials several times in the past month, and says he plans to do so again. "It's part of an ongoing process," Hyman says. "I asked [investors] to be very frank and tell me as straight as they can how they view Cornell." He says Cornell would consider any offer, but that the company is not seeking a buyer. Cornell also recently replaced director Marcus Watts with Isabella Cunningham, a communications professor at the University of Texas. That move, says a shareholder, suggests "creeping compliance" with Pirate's wishes. Shareholders had repeatedly asked the board to replace Watts, a partner at law firm Locke Liddell & Sapp LLP, who they argued lacked sufficient independence. Locke Liddell & Sapp has a business relationship with Cornell. Cunningham, considered independent, developed a criminal-justice program at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. Skolnick says Hyman will have his work cut out for him. He acknowledges that Cornell has made some major mistakes lately. For example, it leased an abandoned jail in Bernalillo County, N.M., and announced in spring 2003 that the facility would house roughly 1,000 inmates by the end of that year and generate $25 million in annual revenue. But after lease problems and poor planning, Skolnick says, the facility held only 300 inmates by the end of 2004 and brought in significantly less revenue than promised. Cornell's acquisition of an abandoned training school in Plankinton, S.D., was another botched purchase. The company turned the school into a juvenile-detention center with an investment of $200,000. For the program to be profitable, Cornell needed the state to pay $175 a day per inmate. But the state agreed to pay only $125. After three months, Cornell closed the operation. "What this points out is how Cornell generally does not complete the necessary due diligence before going out and opening facilities," Skolnick says. "They do a terrible job of completing projects and ramping up occupancy in their facilities." On Feb. 1 Cornell announced plans to buy San Diego-based Correctional Systems Inc. for $10 million, an acquisition Hyman says is complementary. Other shareholders have risen to Pirate Capital's support. "We believe that the board's attempt to simultaneously replace the company's CEO and CFO without reaching out to Pirate Capital, its largest shareholder, represents another example of poor judgment," says Nelson Obus, president of New York hedge fund Wynnefield Capital LLC in a January Securities and Exchange Commission filing. People familiar with Pirate say its nominees have vastly more experience in corrections-facility management, restructuring and turnarounds than Cornell's current board. Pirate nominee Richard Crane, a corrections-project consultant, is a former general counsel to CCA, one of the companies that might consider acquiring Cornell. Then there's Sally Walker, president of Encourage Youth Corp., a consulting firm specializing in programs for juvenile offenders. Pirate is also nominating two people from within its own ranks: portfolio manager Hudson and investment analyst Zachary George. Says Skolnick: "Shareholders would be well-served to have a professional management team that is focused on returns instead of revenue growth."

March 10, 2005 Dow Jones
Cornell Cos.' (CRN) fourth-quarter loss ballooned as the company took a number of charges and announced that it will eliminate two layers of management and close underperforming programs. In a press release Thursday, the prison operator said that among the jobs eliminated was that of President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas R. Jenkins. Chief Executive James Hyman will assume the chief operating officer responsibilities. In a bid to improve its operations, Cornell said it was trimming its management, cutting Jenkins' job as well as a number of vice president and director-level positions that "interfered" between business unit managers and their programs. The shakeup is just the latest in a slew of management changes at Cornell. Hyman himself was named chief executive in January. John Nieser, the chief financial officer, was named in February. Meanwhile, a group of shareholders including Pirate Capital LLC, which hold about 15% of the company, have called for the entire board to step down. Apart from changes to its management, Cornell said Thursday it will close a number of its programs that consumed cash and managerial talent that could better be spent elsewhere.
The programs, set to be shuttered in the first and second quarters, include the Joz-Arz program in the District of Columbia, the Residential School in Illinois, which is owned by the company, and behavioral health programs in Pennsylvania.

November 9, 2004 PRNews
Cornell Companies, a leading provider of privatized adult and juvenile correctional, treatment and educational services, announced today that the Company has commenced a search for a new chief executive officer.  Harry J. Phillips, Jr. will continue to serve as chief executive officer until a successor is named and, thereafter, will continue as chairman of the board of directors.

October 22, 2004 AP
Two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay who have been indicted for alleged campaign finance violations will be allowed to put off answering a civil lawsuit until their criminal charges have been resolved.  State District Judge Joe Hart on Thursday postponed a civil lawsuit against John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, who were charged last month with laundering corporate donations during the 2002 elections.

September 22, 2004 AP
The money laundering allegation in a congressional ethics complaint filed against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay involves the same $190,000 in political contributions that led to indictments of the Texas congressman's aides on similar charges. DeLay is accused in an ethics complaint of misusing the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee to launder $190,000 in illegal corporate contributions through the Republican National Committee for use in Texas legislative races. On Tuesday, a grand jury in Texas indicted Jim Ellis, a paid consultant to Texans for a Republican Majority, and John Colyandro, former executive director of the Texas committee, on money laundering charges involving the same $190,000 check. A third aide was indicted on separate charges. The indictments allege that on Sept. 13, 2002, Ellis delivered a check for $190,000 to the Republican National Committee. The check was signed by Colyandro and made out to the Republican National State Elections Committee. Accompanying it was a list of several GOP Texas legislative candidates and the amount of money that each should get from the RNC, according to the indictment. The indictments said the $190,000 came from corporate contributions to Texans for A Republican Majority. Givers included Diversified Collection Services Inc., $50,000; Sears, Roebuck and Co., $25,000; Williams Companies Inc., $25,000; Cornell Companies, $10,000, Bacardi USA, $20,000 and Questerra Corp., $25,000, the indictments said. They did not account for the remaining contributions. The Republican National State Elections Committee subsequently wrote checks totaling $190,000 to seven Texas candidates, the indictment alleges.
Texas law prohibits the use of corporate money for direct political purposes.

August 15, 2004 Houston Chronicle
Rarely does the siren of shareholder revolt sound as loudly as it has at Cornell Cos., a Houston-based operator of adult and juvenile corrections centers and treatment facilities. During a conference call last week, investors irate over the company's performance blasted Chairman Harry Phillips. "Our capital is being wasted here, and our company is being undermanaged," said Zachary George with Pirate Capital, a Connecticut hedge fund that owns 7.5 percent of Cornell's shares, making it one of the company's biggest investors. "We are not going to let you guys destroy this company. Your time at Cornell is limited." Pirate, which began buying Cornell shares in May, targets companies it believes are undervalued. It isn't alone in its displeasure: Thirty-five percent of the company's investors withheld their votes for directors at the last annual meeting, and that was without any organized effort. Investors have ample reason to be ticked off. Net income was almost $8 million in 2000, but the company hasn't seen a profit like that since. Last year, earnings were less than $4 million. Profit margins have been halved during the same period. Cornell's market value has tumbled to $166 million from $228 million in 2001. For Cornell's management, the hour of reckoning is nigh. Promises of a prosperous future will no longer quell the discontent. The sirens are sounding, and the message for management is clear: The future is now.

Cornell Interventions, Wauconda, Illinois
December 29, 2006 Lake County News-Sun
Two teenage girls who escaped from Cornell Interventions in unincorporated Wauconda shortly before 2 a.m. Thursday were both charged with possession of a stolen vehicle after attempting to elude police in a chase. Lake County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched to the at-risk youth facility to search the grounds for the two runaways, but found no leads at the time. The two females found an unattended 2001 maroon GMC Jimmy at Sweeney's gas station on Miller Road and Route 12 with the keys in the vehicle. "At approximately 1:50 a.m., the two juveniles were called in as runaways from the juvenile detention for at-risk youth," said sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Thompson. The owner of the GMC Jimmy was believed to be in the gas station making a purchase at the time of the vehicle theft and may have left the vehicle running. Lake Zurich police received a call shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday with a report from the driver that the vehicle was stolen. "A vehicle was reported stolen and our department was made aware of it and located the vehicle," said Lake Zurich Police Cmdr. Kevin Finlon. Police discovered the vehicle containing the 14- and 15-year-old females at the intersection of Route 12 and Wooded Ridge.

Cornell Oakland Center, Oakland, California
November 19, 2010 AP
A former correctional officer has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a federal inmate at a privately run halfway house. Thirty-nine-year-old Basean George of San Leandro entered the plea Thursday to one count of sexual abuse of an inmate as part of a deal with prosecutors. George admitted to a month-long sexual relationship in 2008 with a female inmate under his watch at the Cornell Oakland Center. The center is a halfway house under contract with the government that houses federal inmates nearing the end of their sentences. George faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he's sentenced Feb. 2.

Danville Center for Adolescent Females, Danville, Texas
August 8, 2005 Danville News
Texas-based Cornell Abraxas will not renew its contract with the state to provide youth treatment services at the Danville Center for Adolescent Females. The company has run the facility since 1998, but has chosen not to continue its management, citing a lack of infrastructure support.

Delta Junction
, Alaska
April 17, 2009 News Miner
•Seven years ago, the Legislature approved a plan by Rep. John Harris to give an interest-free $1 million loan to the city of Delta Junction to pay legal costs related to a settlement over the establishment of a private prison. The appropriation was contingent upon the city agreeing to give up $50,000 a year in municipal assistance for 20 years. "They are getting a better deal than they would at a bank. However, it is a loan that they have to repay,” Harris was quoted as saying at the time. The loan would be forgiven entirely, however, and be turned into a grant if Delta became part of a borough. But Gov. Tony Knowles vetoed the measure, saying it would set a bad precedent for the state to bail out a city over a lawsuit. Knowles relied on advice from the attorney general’s office, which said, “Use of state money to pay a litigation-based settlement, in which the state was not a party, raises significant legal questions as to whether the expenditure would be for a public purpose. The retirement of a preexisting debt confers no benefit on the public.” The idea that the loan would be forgiven with the formation of a borough was also of dubious legal merit, the AG said. In 2003, Gov. Frank Murkowski vetoed a $500,000 loan with the same forgiveness clauses because of similar legal doubts, but he changed his mind the next year when the Legislature approved a $1 million loan. He said he thought the area should form a borough and the forgiveness provision encouraged that step. The plan to create a borough was rejected by voters in 2007, but Delta Junction has never stopped trying to get the loan forgiven. Harris has made multiple attempts to redefine the loan as a grant. In early 2008, the city council met with Harris and Sen. Gene Therriault. The minutes of the meeting make reference to a comment by City Administrator Mike Tvenge: “He said the no-interest loan from the state was appreciated because it saved the City from technical bankruptcy but the city felt the state was part of the problem and they should eliminate the debt.” The debt was the result of an out-of-court settlement between the city and Allvest Inc., a private contractor that wanted to build a prison a decade ago and had signed a deal with the city. During a 2007 council meeting, according to the minutes, member Louis Heinbockel “said he felt the prison debt was a scam with the Knowles administration, the debt was assumed by the city because of default from the state of Alaska. The state was the prime mover on the prison and the city should not be spending $50,000 a year to cover that debt.” Pete Hallgren, former city administrator, said he agreed with Heinbockel. During the 2007 session, legislators approved language to forgive the debt. But Gov. Sarah Palin became the third governor to issue a veto on the topic after the attorney general’s office again raised constitutional concerns. “Removing the contingency language of borough formation and converting the loan to a municipal grant before a borough is formed may raise issues of public funds being used to pay a preexisting debt and thus run afoul of art. IX, sec. 6 of the Alaska” Constitution, said Attorney General Talis Colberg. Harris told the Delta City Council last fall that he planned to speak with Colberg about the prison loan. On Thursday, the latest attempt by Harris to get the loan forgiven surfaced in language inserted into a budget bill, Senate Bill 75, before the House Finance Committee. When asked for an explanation, John Bitney, an aide to Harris, told the committee: “This is structured such that the loan can basically be forgiven, if you will. The original language that appropriated had the contingency that the forgiveness would come only if the community incorporated as a borough. And as you can see that contingency is being removed with this language.” There was no discussion about the merits of changing the loan to a grant. In an e-mail today, Bitney said the language was offered by Harris at the request of the city.

August 12, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who made his fortune off private halfway houses in Alaska, pleaded guilty Monday to two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won. Weimar had a long-standing relationship with the candidate running in the 2004 primary, a charging document filed Monday said. Weimar held a "contingent interest" in a private prison project worth $5.5 million, but only if the project was completed, the charges say. He faces prison time in the plea deal and may have to forfeit "certain property." Prosecutors estimate a sentence of 10 to 16 months. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick isn't bound to that. He set sentencing for Oct. 29. Weimar, who owned Allvest Inc., becomes the 11th person charged in the broad, ongoing investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice into political corruption in Alaska. Weimar, 68, now lives in Big Arm, Mont. At the brief hearing on Monday, Weimar answered the judge's routine questions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini outlined the two charges: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and illegally manipulating currency transactions to avoid reporting them to the Treasury Department. Weimar has admitted paying the consultant a total of $20,000 during the primary in August 2004 to cover expenses for the candidate, without reporting the payments and without routing them through the campaign. How do you plead? Sedwick asked. "Guilty," Weimar answered, to each charge. LAWMAKER NOT NAMED -- For years, Weimar pushed plans for a private prison in Alaska, but the project was always controversial and no prison was ever built. A Democratic activist in the 1970s, Weimar later became close to the Republicans who controlled the Alaska Legislature. Neither the Senate candidate nor the consultant -- both accused of conspiring with Weimar -- is named in the charging document. Prosecutors declined to expand on it Monday. But the candidate described in the documents, and in court Monday, appears to be former state Sen. Jerry Ward. He didn't return phone calls or e-mail messages on Monday. Ward, a Republican elected from Anchorage in 1996 and the Kenai Peninsula in 2000, fervently pushed private prison projects as a legislator. The charging document says the candidate running in 2004 had a long relationship with Weimar, and held elected office part of that time. Ward and Weimar were "buddies," according to a statement that former lobbyist Bill Bobrick, who worked for Weimar, gave to the FBI in September 2006. Bobrick also has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation. He declined to comment on Monday. In 1997, a plan for a private prison in South Anchorage with Allvest and Veco Corp. as partners crumbled under strong public opposition. As that project evaporated, Ward emerged as the lead architect of a new plan to build private prisons in the Mat-Su and Seward. "By God, this really solves the problem," Weimar was quoted as saying at the time. In 2001, Ward signed on as the only Senate sponsor of a House bill pushing a private prison on the Kenai. The charging document against Weimar doesn't say whether the candidate won in 2004 and does not call the person a legislator. Ward lost his seat in 2002 to Tom Wagoner. He was trying to regain it in 2004, but lost in the Republican primary to Wagoner. SEATTLE CONSULTANT -- In court Monday, Bottini told the judge the consultant was from Seattle. Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash. Numerous calls left for Madison principal Brett Bader on Monday were not returned. The charges against Weimar and other court documents quote details of a number of telephone conversations he had with the consultant and the candidate from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2004. In a telephone conversation on Aug. 17, 2004, the consultant told Weimar that the campaign was having money trouble, court documents say. "I'm worried we're reaching the limit now. I don't know where we find 10 grand unless (Candidate A) can get more in," the consultant said "There's no legal way to do that. At least not on that scale," Weimar responded. Later that day, Weimar arranged to cover the next advertising mailer for the candidate, and told the candidate so, the document says. On Aug. 20, 2004, Weimar told the candidate of an unpaid invoice of $20,000 with the consultant. The candidate's campaign funds were depleted, the charges say. The candidate said he had only $300 to $400 left in his account. On Aug. 23, 2004, Weimar made arrangements with the consultant to pay off the debt, the charges say. He then called the candidate and told him "he would not be receiving any further bills from Consultant A," the charging document says. Weimar sent the consulting company a $3,000 check on Aug. 23, 2004, then sent $8,500 in cash that same day by express mail, and another $8,500 cash the day after, the charges say. "WE'VE MOVED ON" -- The charges also do not name the private prison company, but Cornell Corrections Inc. tried to build a prison in various Alaska communities, including Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The charging document describes the unnamed company's Alaska interests as halfway houses, a planned juvenile treatment center, and a private prison project, and that matches Cornell's interests. In 1998, in the midst of planning for a private prison in Delta Junction, Weimar sold five Alaska halfway houses to Cornell for $21 million. He also formed a partnership with Cornell to pursue the Delta prison and subsequent deals for a private facility. One goal of the conspiracy was to get the private prison company to give campaign contributions to the candidate to help win election, according to the charges. A spokesman for Cornell said the company was unaware of the charges but supports the prosecution. The executives now in charge of Cornell weren't there at the time of the events that involved Weimar, spokesman Charles Seigel said Monday. Company records don't show any evidence of wrongdoing, he added. "We've moved on and we are very different and have it behind us," Seigel said. Cornell also has not pursued a private prison in Alaska for years and is no longer interested in that, he said. "We're glad this investigation is going on but whatever was going on or may have been going on in the past, that is not the Cornell that exists now, both in the policy on the private prison as we've talked about and in general about the way we do business." By 2004, Veco was no longer involved in the prison project, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, Cornell consultant and FBI informant, has said. ANDERSON INVOLVED -- The failed private prison effort was also central in the government's case against former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, now in prison. At Anderson's corruption trial last summer, Prewitt was a key witness who testified at length about his undercover work to collect evidence against Anderson, and also about questionable acts in his own past. From the witness stand, Prewitt said that in 1994 -- when he was corrections commissioner and Weimar owned Allvest -- he accepted $30,000 from Weimar. Prewitt testified that he considered the money a loan, which he repaid the next year, after he left his state post, by working four months for Allvest for free. Weimar helped start Allvest in 1985, then bought out his partners and turned it into a multimillion dollar corporation with operations in Alaska and Washington state. Its government contracts were worth an estimated $10 million a year. Allvest also operated a lab that did contract urinalysis work, and used to run the city's Animal Control Center and the Community Service Patrol. In 2002, Allvest was forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid judgments in civil suits against the company. The bankruptcy case eventually was settled.

June 30, 2007 Daily News-Miner
When the red ink dried on Gov. Sarah Palin’s line-item budget vetoes, the city of Delta Junction proved one of the big losers. “We came out with zero,” said City Administrator Pete Hallgren. Palin cut $15,000 slated for a motocross course, $45,000 for a youth activities facility, and $500,000 for street paving and lighting. She also blocked a legislative decision to relieve a $1 million debt stemming from a city settlement years ago with a company brought on to convert unused military buildings at Fort Greely to a private prison. The governor explained her vetoes by saying the first three projects were not state responsibilities and the fourth raised legal concerns.

June 1, 2007 Daily News-Miner
State lawmakers have approved funding in the state’s capital budget to pay off a debt of nearly $1 million owed by the city of Delta Junction. The debt comes from the city’s settlement years ago with a company brought on to convert unused military buildings at Fort Greely to a private prison. When the plan fell through, the company sued for breach of contract, City Administrator Pete Hallgren said. The city settled before the case went to trial. Delta paid off $100,000 of the $1.1 million settlement, then asked the state for a loan to pay the rest, he said. The state provided the loan, and the city has been paying it back at a rate of $50,000 a year. “This year we asked if the state could forgive the rest of the loan,” he said. Hallgren said he appreciated the loan forgiveness, which he said would make it easier for the city to provide public services.

The Interior city of Delta Junction will receive a $1.2 million no-interest loan from the state to pay off a lawsuit settlement, under a bill signed into law by Gov. Frank Murkowski.  The governor's action last week comes a year after he vetoed a similar proposal and two years after then-Gov. Tony Knowles did the same thing.  The loan will allow the city to finish paying its breach-of-contract settlement with Allvest Inc. and Delta Corrections Corp. stemming from a failed effort to build a private prison at Fort Greely.  In 1998, the city and Allvest reached a contract to build a private prison on Fort Greely, but the noncompetitively bid deal led to a public outcry.  The city then rescinded the contract in 1999, leading Allvest to file a breach-of-contract lawsuit that was ended by settlement. Delta Junction has paid $100,000 of the settlement and owes about $1.16 million.  But city officials have refused to keep making payments, arguing that the settlement deal was contingent on them getting money from the state.  That led to a second lawsuit, which was recently decided in Allvest's favor.  (AP, July 26, 2004)

D. Ray James Prison, Folkston, Georgia
July 27, 2010 Charlton County Herald
For years Charlton County Schools got well over $1 million annually in state funds to make up for the county's low tax base. Those dollars have fallen dramatically this year, however to just $27,000. Superintendent Steve McQueen believes local system funding has changed because of errors in the county tax digest. Because of the drop, the Charlton County Board of Education voted unanimously last week to appeal the digest to the state auditor’s office. “Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is get the equalization board to exercise their discretion and adjust our funding,” explained BOE
Attorney Kelly Brooks. “When the state auditor’s office receives our appeal, they will notify the state department of education to hold off on the final determination of our funding for 2011.” The lawyer says this will buy the school system 45 more days, time enough the school board hopes, for the Charlton County Tax Assessor’s office to come up with an accurate tax digest. “There have been substantial post-levy reductions in the digest through timber tax appeals and Cornell’s appeal [on the D. Ray James Prison valuation],” said Brooks. “Call me skeptical but for six years in a row the county’s certified digest has meant nothing.” Last year for example, Charlton County’s certified digest was $332 million but the county, school board and cities never collected taxes on that amount. After the state approved the digest, but before payments started coming in, the digest dropped by $16.5 million because of the prison appeal. That one reduction amounted to a loss in property tax revenues to the school system last year of $252,000.

January 22, 2010 Times-Union
The Charlton County Commission, the county school system and Folkston are all hastily adjusting their budgets after a single successful appeal of a property assessment. Commissioners are expected to approve an "error and relief" agreement in February to reduce the assessed value of privately owned D. Ray James Prison from $97 million to $55 million. The successful appeal by Cornell Companies, owners and operators of the prison, will cost the city, county and school system at least $730,000 in anticipated tax revenue. County Manager Steve Nance said Cornell appealed the assessed value of the prison after it nearly doubled in 2009. Two new structures - an addition that will house 700 inmates this year and another facility for 300 prisoners from both Charlton County and the U.S. Marshals Service - were on the tax rolls for the first time this year, likely leading to the increase in value, Nance said. During the appeal, Cornell officials didn't dispute the accuracy of the appraisal of the facility. Instead, they argued it would be impossible to sell the sprawling prison complex for what the company invested because the structures are for very specialized purposes - to securely house inmates. They also claimed the original part of the prison, more than a decade old, had depreciated in value, Nance said. "They contended the value did not equal the cost," he said. The property appraiser who determined the appraised value never visited the prison until after Cornell filed an appeal, Nance said. Instead, the appraiser determined the value from manuals, he said. "She did not actually tour the facility until the appeal was made," he said. "After the tour, she agreed the value was too high. It was a lot more austere than she thought." Despite the hardship losing an estimated $334,000 in anticipated tax revenue, Nance said county officials have no plans to contest the ruling by the Board of Assessors. "It would be difficult for us to appeal our own valuation," he said. Also, there is no appeal process unless the complaint is taken to the Board of Equalization by the property owner, Nance said. "Is there any recourse [for Folkston and the school district]?" Nance asked. "I don't think they have the right to challenge this." Now, the already cash-strapped county will maintain a "continuous evaluation process" to cut spending to make up for the shortfall, Nance said. Folkston City Manager Pender Lloyd said the appeal will cost his city at least $108,000 in anticipated tax revenue - nearly a 5 percent cut to the city's $2.4 million budget. "We knew Cornell was probably going to appeal," Lloyd said. "We certainly had no idea it [the prison's value] would drop by $42 million." Lloyd criticized the timing, saying one appeal should not have so much impact to local governments. An appeal of the magnitude of Cornell's should have been resolved before the county digest was completed to give local governments an accurate estimate of how much revenue would be generated in taxes. The city will delay some projects planned this year, including construction of a new park, he said. Travel to conferences and training is also canceled, unless it is required by law, Lloyd said. "We have some revenues built up, so we can handle it," he said. "We're all affected and we've got to work through this thing. We've got to deal with it."

May 20, 2009 Yahoo.com
Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN) today announced that it has been informed by the Georgia Department of Corrections that the Department will not start using the Company's recently completed expansion at its D. Ray James Prison in Georgia. The Company's previous guidance, included in the first quarter earnings release, provided a base case that assumed that the 700-bed expansion at D. Ray James Prison would begin to ramp at the beginning of the third quarter of 2009, and an alternate case that, if the expansion was to remain empty for all of 2009, earnings for the full year would be reduced by up to approximately $0.08 per share. Today's updated guidance assumes that the expansion will remain empty for the remainder of the year. As a result, the Company now expects earnings per share for the full year of $1.62 to $1.70. The Company also reaffirmed the earnings guidance range for the second quarter of $0.42 to $0.46 per share.

September 6, 2008 Savanna Now
A Savannah man serving a life sentence for a 1984 slaying recently helped save a prison counselor being assaulted by another inmate. Arthur Lee "Leechain" Scott, an inmate at D Ray James Correctional Facility in Folkston, rushed to the aid of a female mental health counselor on Aug. 24, officials said. Another inmate who had been working with the woman in a one-on-one session had her in a choke hold, said Charles Seigel, spokesman for Cornell Companies Inc., a private corporation in Houston that operates the medium-security prison for the state. Seigel said Scott got there first and "really helped." "He and others reacted well, and he was very gallant and deserves praise for what he did," Seigel said. The unidentified counselor was taken to a hospital but suffered no serious physical injuries, Seigel said. The attacking inmate has been transferred to another facility, he said. The incident remains under investigation.

March 24, 2008 News 4 Jax
Federal prisoners at the D. Ray James Prison near Folkston, Ga., were locked down on Monday after prisoners resisted orders to return to their cells, Channel 4 learned. Prison officials said there were no injuries. The Charlton County Sheriff's Office said the prison did not request assistance. A spokesman for Cornell Companies, the private firm that runs the prison, said the lockdown is only in a newly opened pod that houses federal prisoners and does not affect the entire prison. Only 50 to 60 inmates of the prison's capacity of 1,640 were involved. Since the prison opened in 1998, it has expanded to become the largest privately run prison in Georgia.

Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility, Eagle Mountain, California
March 21, 2007 The Press-Enterprise
Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, reiterated her opposition Wednesday to reopening a private prison at Eagle Mountain, a remote community in Riverside County. The 500-bed facility closed in 2003 shortly after a riot that killed two inmates and injured dozens. This week, Senate Republicans proposed reopening the prison as part of their plan this week to reduce prison crowding. Garcia, whose district includes Eagle Mountain, said she will only support using the prison as a minimum-security facility staffed by state correctional officers. "I want to be clear and direct -- I am adamantly opposed and will fight any effort to reopen a private prison at Eagle Mountain under any conditions," Garcia wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary James Tilton.

September 14, 2006 The Press-Enterprise
A Houston-based corrections company hopes to reopen a 500-bed lockup in Eagle Mountain, three years after lawmakers closed the privately operated prison. Riverside County officials confirmed Thursday that they've received a proposal from Cornell Cos. for a 150,000-square-foot correctional facility in the remote community near Joshua Tree National Park. Cornell Cos. officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment this week. The company's Web site says it operates 79 correctional facilities in 17 states, including California. Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the state has asked contractors to submit their plans for operating 8,500 prison beds for men and women. Information about the bidders and their proposals is confidential until the state awards the contracts Nov. 17, Thornton said. Plans submitted to Riverside County call for $27 million in new construction at the Eagle Mountain site and say the project would create 150 jobs. County Supervisor Roy Wilson, whose district includes Eagle Mountain, said officials have promised to fast-track Cornell's proposal to help it meet strict state deadlines, if the company receives the contract. But Wilson said he expects the project to be vetted before the county Planning Commission before coming to the Board of Supervisors for consideration. "They need some kind of economic development out there," Wilson said. "It's a ghost town. It's in dire straits." Five people live in Eagle Mountain. Mary Zeiler, resident of Eagle Mountain for 36 years, said she was sorry to see the minimum-security prison closed in 2003 when state lawmakers cut funding for the prison run by Utah-based Management & Training Corp. Two months before its closure, the prison, a converted supermarket, fell under scrutiny when two inmates were killed and seven inmates were injured in a riot. Kay Hazen, spokeswoman for Kaiser Ventures, said she had not seen Cornell's proposal but that Kaiser welcomes any opportunity to use the prison as a solution to the state's shortage of prison beds. Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, said she would like to see the state house inmates there but not under a private contractor. "I am not supportive of any private prisons," Garcia said.

Grantsville, Utah
Legislators have endorsed a $1.5 million settlement to avoid being sued by a private corrections company over the state's abandonment of plans for a private prison in Tooele County. "We warned lawmakers, " said Steve Erickson, co-founder of Utah Citizens Education Project. "Heading down the private prison path was buying a pig in a poke. Turns out it was all pig and no pokey." The $1.5 million figure is roughly $2 million less than Cornell and its subcontractors, VCBO Architects and Hogan Construction, said they were owed. (AP, June 21, 2001)

Great Plains Correctional Facility, Hinton, Oklahoma
August 11, 2010 Tulsa World
Arizona is pulling more than 1,700 of its inmates from the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. Arizona has recently added 4,000 beds to its existing prisons to increase capacity, Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson said Tuesday. In addition, the state's contract for space at Great Plains is nearing an end, he said. The Great Plains private prison is owned by the Hinton Economic Development Authority and operated by Houston-based Cornell Cos. Cornell Cos. was previously in the process of merging with GEO, based in Boca Raton, Fla. GEO operates the Lawton Correctional Facility. The Arizona inmates are expected to be removed in the coming months, said Charles Seigel, Cornell Cos. spokesman. The company has known for several months that Arizona was considering the move, he said. The Great Plains Correctional Facility has 272 employees with an annual payroll of $9.1 million. "We are going to be without inmates for the moment," Seigel said. "We are working to try to find another customer to use it." Until then, employees will be laid off, he said. Hinton has a population of just under 3,000, said Dave Flezickey, a Hinton Economic Development Authority spokesman. The prison is one of the town's largest employers. Cornell and Corrections Corporation of America have told the Federal Bureau of Prisons that they are interested in housing criminal illegal aliens at Great Plains and three other private prisons in the state. The inmates would be low-security males who are predominantly Mexican citizens with one year or less left to serve. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections does not have the funds to contract to house state inmates at the two Oklahoma private prisons from which Arizona has removed inmates, said DOC Director Justin Jones. Arizona also removed inmates from Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga this spring. "Obviously, I would not rule it out, but that decision will have to be made through the legislative process," Jones said. He said the private prison industry is a speculative market. "It is not immune to recession and trends in sentencing and crime," Jones said. "A lot of states have gone back and applied research to their sentencing practices, which results in sentences that are more evidence-based, and that obviously affects a market that relies upon incarceration."

August 6, 2010 Market Watch
Cornell Companies, Inc. announced today that it has received notification from the Arizona Department of Corrections of its election not to renew its contract at Cornell's 2,048 bed Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton, Oklahoma, which is scheduled to expire on September 12, 2010. The Company will be working with Arizona in the coming days to determine the schedule for the transfer of inmates, which the Company expects to complete in 2010. As a result of this notification, Cornell intends to continue marketing the facility to other customers. Cornell's previous 2010 guidance assumed that the Arizona DOC would maintain its use of the Great Plains facility at its present level through the end of the year. In May 2010, Cornell reported that the ultimate resolution of Arizona's usage of the facility would likely depend on the timing of Arizona's budget process and may not occur until the third quarter of 2010. In light of the contract termination, Cornell is withdrawing its prior annual financial guidance.

February 26, 2010 AP
Cornell Cos. Inc.'s sales and profit will decline if the state of Arizona removes inmates from the company's Oklahoma prison, an analyst said as he downgraded the prison operator's shares. First Analysis Securities analyst Todd Van Fleet downgraded the Houston company to "equal weight" from "overweight." The January budget proposals from Arizona's governor and legislature would phase out the use of private out-of-state beds. Arizona is struggling to close budget shortfalls. Van Fleet said there was less than a 25 percent chance that Cornell would be able to persuade legislators to keep Arizona inmates in the company's Oklahoma prison. The loss of the Arizona prisoners which could cut into Cornell's annual earnings by 35 cents to 45 cents per share. Van Fleet cut his estimate for 2010 profit to $1.09 per share from $1.69 per share, and his 2010 sales estimate to $398 million from $440.6 million. On Wednesday, when it released fourth-quarter earnings, Cornell predicted it would make $1.31 to $1.41 per share in 2010. The guidance assumed that Cornell would continue to keep all its Arizona inmates for the rest of the year. The contract for the Arizona prisoners ends in mid-September, Van Fleet said. Cornell shares slipped 13 cents to $18.61 in midday trading. They have dropped about 25 percent since Arizona proposed its budget in mid-January.

October 9, 2007 The Oklahoman
A convicted murderer who kidnapped and assaulted two woman after his January escape from a private prison told investigators he has been rattling the prison fences for five years to see whether any guards would respond. None ever did, convicted murderer Charles McDaniels told investigators, according to a report by the state Department of Corrections' Office of Internal Affairs. McDaniels and another inmate, Tony Ellison, cut through a Great Plains Correctional Facility fence with wire cutters on Jan. 22, kidnapped a Hinton woman and then an Oklahoma City woman, tying both up in the second woman's Oklahoma City home. The escapees also are accused of committing a rash of home invasions in the Tulsa area before they were captured 36 hours after their escape. McDaniels later told investigators the prison tower was usually unmanned and that razor wire surrounding the perimeter fence was insufficient, according to the Internal Affairs report. On Nov. 15, two months before the escape, prison officials received a security audit from state officials that criticized such areas as "inmate count procedures, perimeter fencing, camera placement, and perimeter security,” according to an April 6 letter to prison officials from Ed Evans, associate director of field operations for the corrections department. The letter also noted that on Jan. 18, the state agency determined "additional corrective action was needed due to the prison's inadequate responses regarding the perimeter fencing.” McDaniels and Ellison escaped four days later. Ellison was found hanged in a Tulsa County jail cell after his capture. State officials assessed the prison damages of $60,625 for non-performance between Nov. 15, and Feb. 19, when the prison's second plan of action was accepted by the agency. "I'm not sure we really had enough time to fix all the deficiencies before the escapes,” said Charles Siegel, a spokesman for Cornell Cos. Inc., which operates the medium-security prison for the Hinton Economic Development Authority. "But I know we fixed most of them.” Cornell paid the state agency the damage assessment, Siegel said. Eldon McCumber, the Hinton authority's chairman, called the fines "extreme.” "To me, it looked like one employee didn't do their job,” McCumber said. "It was a human error.” McDaniels told investigators he and Ellison began cutting the fence at 12:30 p.m. during a recreation break. When the period was over, they entered the prison and came out with another group on recreation break. McDaniels said he was surprised that the perimeter officer was not more observant, according to the Office of Internal Affairs report. "If they had just been driving around, they would have seen us,” he told investigators. McDaniels said he and Ellison went back and forth through the cut fence about three times before taking off and stopping at the first available house just east of the prison. The report also said a 4 p.m. inmate count revealed two missing prisoners, but two more counts were taken before the prison's emergency response team was deployed at 5:30 p.m. At the time of the escape, McDaniels was serving a life sentence for the 1988 murder of a Tulsa taxi driver. Ellison was serving time for burglary, motor vehicle theft and escape convictions. Authorities eventually cornered and arrested the two inmates in Tulsa, but not until after 36-hour crime spree that included the kidnapping of Hinton resident June Heldermon, 71, and Oklahoma City resident Teresa Mannix, 74. The women were left alive and bound in Mannix's home. They struggled to free themselves and then called police. McDaniels is serving a second life sentence at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester because of the kidnappings. He still faces charges for the Tulsa burglaries. Back in business -- The Hinton prison closed in April after a contract dispute with the Department of Corrections. It recently reopened. The prison houses 225 inmates and is receiving about 80 more each week from Arizona, Siegel said. The prison is expected to return to its 900-inmate capacity by late November, he said. Siegel said Cornell has spent more than $600,000 on "state-of-the-art” security, including additional perimeter fencing and sensor devices. Siegel declined to be more specific for security reasons. Vonda Weathers, Heldermon's daughter, isn't buying Cornell's new security pitch. "I'm still scared,” said Weathers, who can see the prison's lights from her home seven miles away. "I work at a restaurant in downtown Hinton, and I won't feel any safer. They said they had good security back then.”

April 7, 2007 The Oklahoman
The last of the Great Plains Correctional Facility's nearly 200 employees clocked out of work Friday, leaving the 9-year-old prison empty and a Caddo County town of 1,400 people wondering what will happen next. "This is devastating,” said Eldon McCumber, chairman of the Hinton Economic Development Authority (HEDA) board. "This is going to have a big impact on the community, especially HEDA. ..... "But we're working daily to get an inmate contract. Employees, meanwhile, shared their frustrations with each other Thursday at a farewell barbeque. No one in attendance would speak publicly about being laid off. "I think they're afraid they won't be hired back when the prison reopens,” said Linda Maize, whose husband, Michael, is the prison's hospital administrator. Maize and her husband expressed concern over employees who are already experiencing hardships, especially couples where both spouses were employed at the prison. "You always hear about how most of us are just one paycheck away from being homeless,” Linda Maize said. "Well, we just got our last paycheck.” Skeleton crew remains: By Friday, only a skeleton crew of 10 employees remained to man the prison and its surrounding grounds. "It's a pretty sad deal,” said Michael Maize, who has worked at the prison for four years. "There was a group of people who clung on, hoping something would happen. There was a family-type atmosphere there because we all watched each other's backs ..... "The hardest part was watching your friends lose their jobs one-by-one, and wondering when your number was going to come up. That was tough because we all knew it was coming.” The Hinton authority, which financed the $37.2 million prison a decade ago, leases the facility to Houston-based Cornell Companies for $100,000 annually and receives an additional $25,000 per month from inmate per diems. Cornell purchased the prison in 1998, and then deeded the property back to the Hinton authority under the present lease agreement. Since then McCumber said the authority has used revenue from the prison to build the Sugar Creek Canyon Golf Course, spruce up local school properties, and leverage other business projects. But those days suddenly seem like a distant memory. "Dollar-wise, we're pretty much down to nothing,” McCumber said. "We're cash-strapped, although we still have a lot of money invested in properties.”

April 4, 2007 AP
A convicted killer who allegedly escaped from a private prison and abducted a Caddo County woman will stand trial. Special District Judge David Stephens made his decision yesterday at the end of Charles McDaniels' preliminary hearing. The 35-year-old McDaniels is accused of fleeing the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton on January 22nd with another inmate. The pair allegedly broke into 71-year-old June Heldermon's home and drove her and her vehicle into Oklahoma City. It's there where authorities allege McDaniels and fellow escapee Tony Ellison broke into the home of 74-year-old Teresa Mannix, tied up her and Heldermon and left in Mannix's vehicle. The men were captured in Tulsa after a 36-hour manhunt. Ellison later hanged himself in his Tulsa jail cell.

March 20, 2007 Oklahoman
The Great Plains Correctional Facility will close indefinitely "the first week of April,” leaving some 190 employees at the private prison without work, a company spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. "The decision to close came down to contract negotiations with DOC (state Department of Corrections),” said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. Only 290 state inmates remain at the private prison from a population that was once 800 as recent as October. State corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said the remaining inmates are scheduled to be moved no later than April 6. State guards began relocating inmates after prison officials announced they would not renew their state contract in October. Parker said the decision came after months of negotiations. The bulk of Hinton's inmates were sent to the Lawton Correctional Facility, a private prison that recently underwent a $23 million, 600-bed expansion. "Basically, they (prison official) were telling us they were losing money,” Massie said. "We were paying other private prisons in the state anywhere from $40 to $45 a day per bed. They were getting around $47 a day per bed. "So they were getting more than anyone else.” In January, the private prison came under scrutiny when a convicted murderer and another fugitive escaped and kidnapped two elderly women. Authorities arrested both fugitives in Tulsa County, but only after a 36-hour manhunt that stretched 150 miles. Both women lived to tell their frightful story. At the time, a contract extension with the state was being discussed. Massie later said the extension wasn't necessary. "The closure has nothing to do with the escapes,” Parker said. "We had already decided not to renew our contract with DOC by then.”

February 11, 2007 AP
More than two-thirds of convicted killers in Oklahoma are not incarcerated at the state's most secure prisons, but instead are housed in state-run and private medium-security facilities, according to a published report. Fewer than 400 first-degree murderers, including the men on death row, are at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, according to records for Jan. 23. Another 117 are at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, a women's prison, The Sunday Oklahoman reported. ``Inmates can earn their way down,'' Corrections Department Director Justin Jones said. ``I think it's OK. ... For us, medium security is considered high security.'' The issue arose after convicted killer Charles McDaniels and fellow inmate Tony Ellison escaped from the Great Plains Correctional Facility after cutting holes in fences. The pair abducted a woman, drove her and her vehicle to Oklahoma City and assaulted and robbed another woman before taking off in her vehicle. They eventually were apprehended in Tulsa, where Ellison hanged himself at the jail, authorities said. McDaniels and 65 others with first-degree murder convictions were held at the medium-security private prison in Hinton. ``I had been told that they didn't have murderers there ... that it was just for burglary and assault and so forth,'' said June Heldermon, 71, who lived near the prison and was kidnapped Jan. 22, allegedly by the escapees. Heldermon is seeing a counselor over her ordeal and is staying with her daughter. ``I've got to get rid of that house,'' she said. ``I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm just not about to go back up there and live. ... No way! One time's enough for me.''

January 29, 2007 The Oklahoman
A private prison that recently ended its contract with the state has notified nearly 200 employees that the prison may close. The Great Plains Correctional Facility sent notices to its employees last week telling them their jobs could be terminated within 60 days. Warden Sam Calbone said the prison is required by law to notify employees of a possible termination in advance but hopes the prison won't have to close. "We're hopefully optimistic right now that it won't come to that,” Calbone said. Prison officials and the state Corrections Department in July were in disagreement over how much the state should pay to keep inmates there. In October, the prison told state officials they had 180 days to relocate about 800 inmates being held at the prison. At the time of the announcement, company officials said they were pursuing a contract with other, undisclosed agencies for the use of the prison space. State corrections officials learned in October the prison was negotiating with other states, possibly California, which recently agreed to pay private prisons in Watonga and Sayre $63 per day to house about 500 California inmates. Oklahoma pays the Hinton prison about $47 per day per inmate.

January 25, 2007 KTUL
About 150 employees at the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton have been told the prison will be closing in March. A spokeswoman for Cornell Corrections says workers were given a 60-day notice of the closure last Friday. Spokeswoman Christine Parker says the contract between the state of Oklahoma and Cornell expired in July, and the two parties couldn't reach a new contract. She says the 530 inmates housed there are being transferred to other facilities. The facility has operated in Hinton since 1998. The closing is not connected to the escape of two inmates on Monday. The two men are accused of embarking on a crime spree before they were captured Wednesday in Tulsa. One of the two escapees killed himself this morning in a Tulsa jail.

January 25, 2007 AP
One of two men who escaped from a prison and was suspected of going on a crime spree before being recaptured hanged himself in jail Thursday and apparently had a suicide pact with the other escaped inmate, sheriff's officials said. Tony Ellison, 23, was found hanging from a bed sheet tied to a light fixture at 8:35 a.m., 20 minutes after a routine check of his cell, the Tulsa County sheriff's office said. Ellison and the other escaped inmate, Charles McDaniels, discussed their plans to kill themselves in letters found in their cells, Undersheriff Brian Edwards said. McDaniels, 35, was immediately placed on a suicide watch. "We were very surprised when we uncovered this plot between the two of them," Edwards said, adding that Ellison had not seemed despondent and had not been on a suicide watch. "If a person is very determined, it is very difficult to keep them from hurting themselves," Edwards said.

January 24, 2007 Texarkana Gazette
Authorities captured two escaped inmates, including a convicted killer, Wednesday morning after a nearly 40-hour search. Capt. Chris West of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Charles McDaniels, 35, and Tony Ellison, 23, were captured in a central Tulsa neighborhood at about 3 a.m. The men led authorities on a short car chase after investigators closed in on the home where they were hiding, West said. The men crashed the car and then fled on foot before they were arrested. There were no injuries. "We feel very satisfied that it ended like it did tonight," West said. McDaniels and Ellison escaped from the medium-security Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton, 50 miles west of Oklahoma City, on Monday by cutting through a fence in a recreation yard, said Jerry Massie, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Massie said he wasn't sure how they could have done this without guards seeing them. He said there are no towers at the prison, but guards would monitor the perimeter of the facility. No cutting implement had been found Tuesday, Massie said. Houston-based Cornell Cos., the private operator of the prison, offered a $25,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the capture of the inmates, who are believed to have escaped at 3:24 p.m. Monday when an electronic perimeter system sounded a series of alarms at the prison's control room. Officials confirmed the prisoners were missing during a 4 p.m. head count and placed the facility on lockdown. Authorities believe the pair broke into a Hinton residence, abducted a woman and drove her and her vehicle into Oklahoma City, where they broke into a northwest-side home. Oklahoma City police Capt. Steve McCool said the men then tied up the women. He said the women were somehow able to call police for help, but he didn't have exact details. One of the women was punched and may have a broken nose, McCool said. The escapees were able to get in the house by asking to use a telephone. They pushed their way in when the woman tried to hand a phone to them. The two women were identified by police Tuesday as Wanza "June" Heldermon of Hinton, and Teresa Mannix of Oklahoma City. McCool said Heldermon may have been abducted to buy the men some time. "They probably did it in an effort to give themselves a head start from law enforcement," he said. "Then they tie them up, all in an effort to give them a head start." McDaniels had been at Great Plains since 2001, and Ellison had been there since October, Massie said. The facility holds 531 men, and the Department of Corrections had been lowering the population because the contract with Cornell was not renewed and is set to expire in April, Massie said. In a statement, Cornell said all prison personnel were at their assigned posts and all security systems were functioning properly. The company said it does not know what type of tool was used to cut through two security fences topped with razor wire, but all prison tools and equipment were accounted for. The prison also has two rows of razor wire between the fences, which are monitored by an electronic system.

January 23, 2007 Tulsa World
Two men, including one who was a teenager when he killed a Tulsa cab driver, escaped from a southwestern Oklahoma private prison Monday and allegedly abducted one woman and broke into the home of another, authorities said. Officials at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton noticed that Charles Marcel McDaniels, 35, and Tony L. Ellison, 23, were missing after a 4 p.m. head count, according to a statement from the prison's parent company, Cornell Cos. Authorities think the pair broke into a Hinton residence, abducted a woman and drove her in her vehicle to Oklahoma City, where they broke into another home, Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Keith Vance said. "They took the first victim into the house, left her there along with the second victim, but stole her (the latter victim's) car," he said. Vance did not release the victims' names. He said the condition of the Oklahoma City woman, who was seen in television footage being carried from the house on a stretcher, wasn't immediately known. The other woman has returned to Hinton, he said. The prison was locked down while the escape is investigated, Great Plains officials said.

October 24, 2006 Enid News
The old saying, “crime doesn’t pay,” might apply to criminals, but not to operators of private prisons. Officials at Hinton’s Great Plains Correctional Facility recently announced they would evict 800 state inmates housed there under contract with Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections. Cornell Cos. Inc., the Houston company that has owned the medium-security prison since 1998, is evicting the DOC prisoners, according to a spokeswoman, to consider “other business opportunities.” In other words, there are entities that will pay Cornell Cos. Inc. more per head for housing prisoners than the Oklahoma DOC can presently afford. State Corrections Director Justin Jones said the Hinton prison had been negotiating a better deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who are offering a better rate. California, which has declared an emergency due to prison overcrowding, reportedly is prepared to pay between $71 and $80 per day per prisoner to house the Golden State’s bad guys in private prisons. The state of Oklahoma, which will pay just more than $45 per day per inmate, can’t compete. You can’t blame Cornell Cos. Inc. They are a private business and, as such, are entitled to charge whatever they chooses for their services. The problem is, the state doesn’t have much room to house the 800 inmates Cornell is booting from its cells. The state has just 180 days to find someplace to put the evicted prisoners, but the state’s prisons are 98 percent full, meaning there’s little or no room for inmates at the inn. Even many county jails, which currently house more than 1,350 DOC prisoners, are at or near capacity. Such is the case with Garfield County Detention Center. So what is Oklahoma to do? Spend more money. The state either needs more prison beds, or must boost its per-diem rate for housing prisoners, or both. The DOC already has asked for a $193 million bond issue to help pay for a new 1,400-bed medium-security prison, 750 maximum security beds and other renovations. Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, thinks the state should pay for new prison space with money from the state “rainy day” fund, which he said currently contains nearly $500 million. Whether from a bond issue or from rainy day funds, the state must spend money to tackle this problem. Our police and courts are doing a good job of catching and convicting criminals, our prison system must make provisions to house them. This incident clearly illustrates the point DOC can’t count on private prisons to help solve the prison overcrowding problem.

October 12, 2006  The Oklahoman
About 800 Oklahoma inmates will be kicked out of the private prison that houses them, state Corrections Department officials learned Wednesday. The state received notice Wednesday from Cornell Corrections, the private company that runs the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton, corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said. The state will have 180 days to find new housing for about 800 inmates who currently are incarcerated in Hinton. The state has relied on the private prison for more than six years to handle part of its growing problem with prison overcrowding. State-owned prisons are essentially full, running about 98 percent of capacity. Before Wednesday's development, all public and private prisons in the state were projected to be out of space by next year. "This is just going to make a bad situation worse," Massie said. Cornell's contract with the state expired in July, and both parties weren't able to agree on terms for a new contract, leaving the company open to seek a new tenant, said Christine Parker, spokeswoman for Cornell. "We are in the process of considering other business opportunities," Parker said. State Corrections Director Justin Jones said last week the Hinton prison had been negotiating a better deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who offered a better rate. "You're dealing with a private business here, and they are in it to make money and answer to shareholders," Jones said. "Our mission is public safety, and the ideologies don't always line up."

October 6, 2006 The Oklahoman
The state Corrections Department might lose its contract with a private prison that houses 800 inmates, the agency's director said. Federal immigration officials have been negotiating a contract with the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton that would offer more favorable terms than those offered by the state, which pays $44 per day for each inmate housed there, state Corrections Director Justin Jones said. Officials for Cornell Corrections, the company that runs the prison, did not respond to inquiries Thursday from The Oklahoman. Carl Rusnok, regional spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said only that "we contract with a number of facilities around the country." U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, who has called for an increased presence by the federal agency in Oklahoma, said the agency is looking to better serve Oklahoma's immigration enforcement needs. "Any increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement presence in Oklahoma is a positive step for our state," Sullivan said in a statement. Jones said his agency already has executed its option to renew the contract. Leasing that space to anyone else should not be allowed under the contract, he said. Jones said corrections officials will challenge any contract with the prison that undercuts the department's holdings there.

July 24, 2006 Oklahoman
All five inmates who were hospitalized after an altercation Friday in a Caddo County prison have been treated and returned to jail, according to a statement from Cornell Companies Inc., the prison's private owner. Shortly before 7 p.m. Friday, between 25 and 30 inmates started a disturbance at the Great Plaines Correctional Facility that resulted in the injuries, the statement says. Five inmates were injured and taken to area hospitals in the incident, according to the statement. Earlier reports indicated seven inmates were injured and four hospitalized. All injuries were minor, the statement notes. The prison remained on lockdown Saturday. The medium security prison for men can house 766 inmates, according to the Web site of the prison's Houston-based owner. In 2005, the prison was the site of a prisoner fight that ended in the death of an inmate. And in 2000, the prison's owner was fined $304,000 for alleged security breaches that led to an inmate's escape.

July 21, 2006 KOCO 5
A disturbance was reported Friday among inmates at a private prison in Caddo County. A fight broke out among a group of inmates about 6:30 p.m. at the Great Plains Correctional Facility at Hinton, Caddo County Sheriff Gene Cain said. Cain said six or seven inmates were transported by ambulance to a hospital in El Reno. The severity of the injuries was not immediately known but they did not appear to be life threatening, Cain said. The sheriff said authorities do not know what started the fight. Capt. Stuart Meyer of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said troopers were notified of a disturbance at the private prison but that details - including how many inmates were involved and whether anyone was hurt - were not immediately known. "We've been told there was a disturbance there. But they have not requested any assistance from the highway patrol," Meyer said. Jerry Massie, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said a fight was reported in one housing unit at the prison, which houses about 250 minimum and medium security inmates. But Massie did not know the severity of the incident. A spokesman for the Hinton Police Department who asked not to be identified said the prison was in lockdown at 10 p.m. and that all inmates were back in their cells. Prison authorities refused to release any information. An unidentified operator who answered the telephone at the prison told an Associated Press reporter to call back during normal business hours and talk to someone else. The disturbance is not the first at the facility. Inmate Pedro Posadas, 32, was killed on March 4, 2005, in a fight with another inmate at the private prison. The prison, owned by Cornell Corrections Inc. of Houston, was fined by the Department of Corrections in May 2000 for alleged security breaches that allowed an inmate to escape the month before. The $304,000 penalty was at the time the largest ever assessed against an Oklahoma private prison.

November 15, 2005 AP
Members of a public trust at Hinton were duped by a Georgia man into spending more than $7.5 million on a cocoa butter plant that was doomed from the start, state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan said Tuesday. According to a special audit by McMahan's office, members of the Hinton Economic Development Authority were not informed about patent problems tied to a method of extracting cocoa butter utilizing liquefied gas. McMahan said a conflict of interest appears to exist because several members of the trust authority that approved the project also became minority owners of the cocoa butter extracting plant. Ken Doughty, vice chairman, lost $1.8 million in the deal, auditors said. They said the other board members got a share of ownership through promissory notes. Trust members were led to believe that Hinton streets would "be paved with gold" from profits on the plant, McMahan said. "Basically, the authority's board members were duped into believing in an individual, who in my opinion, deliberately made - and received payments on - promises he knew would not be kept," the state official said, identifying the developer as Donald R. Hall of Savannah, Ga. McMahan said Hall apparently contacted Hinton officials after they advertised on the Internet, seeking economic development opportunities for the town in western Oklahoma. He said the trust backed the project with part of an $18 million windfall from the sale of a private prison.

An appeals court Tuesday agreed with two Oklahoma private prison inmates, who served as their own attorneys, that prison officials erred in disciplining them.  The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that prison officials, who revoked 365 days of earned credits from Timothy Gamble and 180 days of earned credits from Kenneth Popejoy, must restore the credits.  Gamble and Popejoy were inmates at Great Plains Correctional Facility. Officials there, who ruled the inmates violated the law that governs inmates' use of their own funds to pay for photocopying, misinterpreted the law, the judges concluded.  (News Ok, July 14, 2004)

Hector Garza Juvenile Detention Center, San Antonio, Texas
June 15, 2008 San Antonio Express-News
Sergio Fernández would rather not sound conspiratorial, but he has a hard time explaining why, despite an existing agreement, the federal government no longer sends detained immigrants to his San Antonio youth center. Though it's open for business, the four-story, 12-acre Hector Garza Residential Treatment Center near U.S. 281 and Loop 1604 on the North Side sits empty. Its last two residents left nearly two weeks ago. He hasn't been given an official explanation, but Fernández, the center's director, surmised it may have something to do with a lawsuit filed against him, his staff and his corporate parent by eight minors formerly housed at the center who claimed they suffered physical abuse and neglect. The center is privately owned and operated by Abraxas Youth and Family Services, the juvenile division of Houston-based corrections giant Cornell. The 121-bed center, a former psychiatric hospital, houses youths under state and federal contracts. The agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is to temporarily oversee as many as 30 unauthorized immigrant minors pending their release or deportation. A spokesman for the federal agency did not return messages for comment on why immigrant youths — whose average stay is two to three months — are no longer sent to the center. The agency has also failed to respond to repeated requests in the past three months for tours and access to staff and residents of Hector Garza and other centers in the San Antonio area. Unlike other HHS-contracted “shelters” or dormitory-style campuses, the Hector Garza center is designated “staff secure” because it's a more restrictive setting meant to handle problematic youngsters. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Antonio in April, came as a result of a brawl between center residents and staff in February. Staffers called police to help quell the mayhem, which concluded with four minors under arrest. According to the suit, filed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, excessive violence used by staff and police symbolized incessant abuse that minors reported to supervisors to no avail. State and federal officials are accused of covering up abuse reports. Fernández said the allegations are ludicrous and malicious — legal and political maneuvering meant to buy minors more time for their immigration cases while making a for-profit juvenile detention business look bad. “They don't have one shred of evidence,” Fernández said Thursday while giving a reporter a tour of the center. “We're looking forward to seeing this through to be fully vindicated.” Though he couldn't discuss details of the February fracas for legal reasons, he already claimed victory after a state investigation cleared the center of abuse or neglect. The report from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services faulted staffers for failing to remove one minor checking out the fight — a citation Fernández is appealing — but found no other violations. Pointing to cameras and microphones in the ceiling in the hallway where the clash took place, Fernández remained confident he'll win the suit because the fight was recorded. The three residential floors are split into two wings to separate resident populations — immigrant youngsters cannot have contact with youths housed under other contracts. Rooms have two single beds and a bathroom, and doors must remain open except during the day, when staff lock them while minors attend classes taught by the John H. Wood Jr. Charter School. Residential wings have classrooms, lounges with seascapes painted by the youngsters and laundry rooms — residents are encouraged, though not obliged, to wash their own clothes, Fernández said. The first floor has an intake area and cafeteria, while outside are picnic tables, a pool, a small soccer field and a 12-foot steel “no-climb” fence that replaced another barrier over which five minors had jumped to flee — three were caught. Fernández said overzealous lawyers preyed on minors' survival instincts, prompting them to sue the center. Staff and residents had cordial and even amiable relations before lawyers began showing up, he lamented. “Sometimes we feel like a pawn in a bigger issue,” he said. “But we're not about whether government policies are right or wrong. We're about providing a safe environment for the kids — that's it.”

May 16, 2008 CBS News
A new lawsuit filed against a private contractor who runs an immigrant child detention center claims nine teenagers were beaten and abused by employees who work for Cornell Companies. The company has been cited by immigration officials for safety problems in the past. The Hector Garza facility in San Antonio handles young immigrant “males with serious behavioral and psychological impairments”. “I think the general American has no idea these kids even exist,” said Susan Watson, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid attorney for the nine plaintiffs, “When our own government treats them this way, they deserve their day in court,” she said. The plaintiffs claim they notified authorities of multiple beatings but no action was taken. One of the plaintiffs is described in court documents as a 16-year-old Honduran male identified as C.C. Arriving at the border alone, C.C. was put into custody for a week by Border Patrol agents. He was later transferred to the Hector Garza Center, where court filings claim a teacher “severely battered C.C. punching and kicking him, then beating him with a chair as he lay on the floor.” Lawsuit filings claim C.C. conveyed this to the authorities but nothing was done. A week later, court documents indicate C.C. came to the defense of another child who was being beaten. C.C. was hit again, this time losing consciousness and ended up in the hospital, according to the civil complaint. A spokesperson for Cornell Companies, Charles Seigel, says the company strongly denies any abuse, “Every complaint has been investigated by the company as well as by the state…and none of these have ever found any evidence of anything that can back up the charges.” Seigel said there was a time when one of the teenagers went to the hospital but said it was due to injuries from a fight between the detainees, not from an abusive teacher. This is not the first time Cornell Companies has been accused of safety problems. In September, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency pulled all 600 detainees from an Albuquerque jail run by Cornell. ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the agency, “had great concern over the health, safety and security of our detainees in the facility” but would not provide any more detail. News reports at the time described a dirty, crowded facility with excessive heat and poor medical conditions. Nantel said the agency terminated its memorandum of understanding with the company this winter. The Hector Garza San Antonio facility that contracted with the federal Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR) opened one month after ICE pulled their detainees from Cornell Companies’ care. The Office of Refugee Resettlement declined all comment citing the pending litigation. Cornell Companies is just one of the companies that manages 36 ORR facilities nationwide. Documentation of care for immigrant detainee children in these detention centers across the country is poor according to a March, 2008 report from the Inspector General for Health and Human Services. The report found, based on a sampling of case files, that more than half lacked one or more required assessments for the children. Half did not contain education records and more than half did not include notes from counseling sessions. Auditors say this left it unclear whether children were receiving services at all.

High Plains Correctional Facility, Brush, Colorado
June 29, 2010 Brush News-Tribune
High Plains Correctional Facility will close down after the state takes the remaining inmates away from the Brush prison today. Most of the employees at High Plains Correctional Facility will lose their jobs after the state removes the last remaining inmates from the Brush women’s prison today. “We have already notified our staffs that most of them unfortunately have to be laid off for now,” said Charles Seigel, spokesman for Houston, Texas-based Cornell Companies, Inc., which owns the Brush prison. The local facility normally employs 83 people, Seigel said, but management has left about half of the positions vacant in anticipation of the closure. “In the last few months we haven’t filled positions, knowing this was going to happen,” he said. Three of the roughly 40 current employees will remain on staff to maintain the facility and prepare for any potential new business, but the rest of the workers will lose their jobs, Seigel said. Cornell has offered to transfer some of the employees to company facilities in other areas, he said. At least 10 of the employees have accepted jobs at a Cornell prison in Hudson, but workers are reluctant to take jobs any farther away. “We’re still working on trying to find positions as much as possible for people,” he said. The closure of the facility will also result in a loss of revenue for the city of Brush, said city Finance Officer Joanne Gosselink. The city will lose roughly $22,000 in annual income it received for processing the prison’s payments from the state, she said. In addition, the city will no longer receive revenue from sales tax on purchases made by the inmates, she said.

April 8, 2010 Brush News-Tribune
Due to a decline in the number of female prisoners throughout Colorado, the state might remove inmates from High Plains Correctional Facility in Brush this summer. “The state has talked about the fact that they may not need the facility now, that they may not need the capacity that High Plains provides,” said Charles Seigel, spokesman for Houston, Texas-based Cornell Companies Inc., which owns the Brush prison. The medium-security prison can house up to 272 female inmates, who are placed at the facility through a contract with the Colorado Department of Corrections. The prison had a total inmate population of 252 in February 2009 and 218 in February 2010, according to the CDOC. In an attempt to keep the Brush prison operational, Cornell is now working with corrections officials in Colorado and several other states to identify alternate ways to use the facility. Seigel said the local prison might have the opportunity to replace any departing inmates with prisoners from other states, which is allowed in Colorado. He said he did not know whether the local facility could be converted into a prison for men. “We’re not sure yet what the future holds,” he said. “There are different options and different ways this may work out.”

Hudson Correctional Facility, Hudson, Colorado
Cornell Companies

April 30, 2010 The News Tribune
The security breach this month at a private Colorado prison holding hundreds of Alaskans was caused by human error, according to Cornell Companies, the prison owner and operator. A correctional officer in a central area electronically unlocked the doors to the cells of 41 inmates around 1:20 a.m. on April 14, allowing the prisoners into the pod corridors, Charles Seigel, Cornell spokesman, said Thursday. The officer at Hudson Correctional Facility has resigned, Seigel said. The company wouldn't release the officer's name. Cornell hired experts who determined the problem was not mechanical, Seigel said. Seigel said the officer was properly trained in security procedures and it's not clear why he unlocked the cell doors. The pod holds inmates who were in segregation, typically for behavioral problems or their own protection. The lapse led to an uprising involving eight to 12 inmates, Seigel said. When the cell doors unlocked, most of the inmates stepped out, looked around and returned to their cells, according to Cornell. At least one tried to assist authorities by describing on the intercom what was happening. Two correctional officers in the pod barricaded themselves in a staff office during the disturbance, which lasted about six hours. Some of the inmates used a filing cabinet like a battering ram to try to break into the office, Seigel said. The door was dented but they weren't able to open it. In February, one inmate in the segregation unit punched the assistant warden and broke his nose, Seigel said. That inmate now faces new criminal charges, Seigel said. He said Cornell doesn't release names of inmates and Colorado authorities weren't able to provide details on Friday. Seigel said he didn't know how long the officer who made the mistake had worked for Cornell. The prison only opened in November, and most of the officers were new. Starting pay is $12 an hour and would be higher for experienced officers, according to Cornell. The state of Alaska contracts with Cornell to house Alaska inmates at Hudson. The prison houses only Alaskans. At the time of the disturbance, 877 inmates were at the facility. Seigel said he thought at least a couple of the instigators in the disturbance had been moved to a Colorado institution. Corrections officials from Colorado and Alaska also have been investigating what happened. The Colorado department's private prison monitoring unit and inspector general's office are involved, said Monica Crocker, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections. As a result of the breach and inmate uprising, Cornell also is looking into making improvements in the security system, Seigel said.

April 14, 2010 Denver Post
A disturbance at the privately owned Hudson Correctional Facility 25 miles northeast of Denver International Airport was sparked when cell doors in a unit housing 41 inmates from Alaska inexplicably opened early this morning. Charles Seigel, spokesman for the Cornell Companies, which operates the prison, said his company is investigating whether the doors opened at about 1:20 a.m. in the prison's segregation unit because of an electronic malfunction or human error. The segregation unit houses inmates who have disciplinary issues and have caused problems, as well as inmates in protective custody, Seigel said. When inmates realized the cell doors were open, many left their cells but most returned a short time later. However, as many as a dozen began destroying sprinkler heads and computers. They also tried to break out of the building by breaking windows. Seigel said the inmates who vandalized the unit were housed there because of disciplinary problems. The disturbance caused widespread water damage. The unit was littered with water, paper and smashed computers. Seigel said that two guards who were in the unit fled to a captain's office where they locked and barricaded the door. He said some of the inmates outside the office tried to protect the two guards in the captain's office. During the disturbance, which lasted until about 7:30 a.m., the two guards were in constant communications with prison officials and were able to watch what was going through windows, Seigel said. Seigel said prison officials decided to let things cool down before acting. At 7:30 a.m., the prison sent in its emergency response team. The team used tear gas to subdue the inmates. No corrections officers were injured. But Seigel said some of the inmates had bruises and abrasions. He said the instigator of the disturbance suffered the worst injury, a cut hand. Seigel said rioters will be charged under Colorado law. Seigel said the entire prison, which houses 877 inmates from Alaska, is on lockdown, with all inmates remaining in their cells. He said the lockdown will remain through at least Thursday. Richard Schmitz, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Corrections, said the Hudson Correctional Facility opened in November 2009. Only Alaska inmates are housed there.

April 14, 2010 AP
A small group of Alaska inmates took over a section of the privately owned Hudson Correctional Facility during a prison disturbance overnight. No injuries were reported in the disturbance that happened late Tuesday or early Wednesday at the prison owned by Cornell Companies Inc. Company spokesman Charles Seigel says the disturbance involving about eight inmates has been brought under control. The group damaged sprinklers, setting off a fire alarm. Additional details were not immediately available. Cornell opened the 1,250-bed medium security prison in November and houses about 1,000 inmates from Alaska. The Colorado Department of Corrections, which oversees private prisons in the state, has sent six investigators to the prison Wednesday. A telephone call seeking comment from Alaska Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt Wednesday was not immediately returned.

September 27, 2009 Alaska Dispatch
After 15 years of managing Alaska prisoners housed out-of-state, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has lost its contract to Cornell Corrections. Cornell's will charge the state about $19,446,000 a year to house 900 prisoners, while CCA's plan would have cost $18,724,000 -- $722,000 less a year. Either way the state will realize savings over the $20,669,000 it now pays through a contract with CCA. The 770 inmates serving time at CCA's Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona will be moved late this year to Cornell's Hudson Correctional Facility in Colorado, a 1,250-bed center now under construction. The move -- via special U.S. Marshals Service planes -- is expected to cost Alaska more than $200,000, Alaska Department of Corrections spokesman Richard Schmitz said. The Department of Corrections denied a protest of the award filed by CCA attorneys, who said they won't launch further appeal. In the protest, CCA attorneys Charles Cole -- a former Alaska Attorney General -- and Stephen Williams argued that Cornell Corrections of Alaska lacks the basic experience the state requires, and that a preference system for Alaska-based bidders was misused. Cornell's bid was more costly than CCA's for the three-year term, but a proposal evaluation panel awarded Cornell's plan more points because of the company's status as an Alaska entity. Points matter as a committee rates the proposals in several categories. According to CCA's protest, the company gained more points than Cornell in five other evaluation categories. In denying the protest, the state said Cornell Alaska qualifies for two perks as an in-state company -- a bidder's preference and an offeror's preference -- and that Cornell meets experience standards. CCA's attorneys argue that Cornell's Alaska enterprise manages halfway house centers and lacks experience housing federal prisoners. In its bid, Cornell turned to its parent company, based in Houston, as the qualified service provider. CCA's attorneys took issue with the state awarding Alaska preferences to a business that would turn the contract over to its Texas parent company to manage. Alaska has contracted with CCA since 1994 to house sentenced prisoners out of state. Currently, 770 Alaska inmates are serving time away. Most have at least year-long sentences. Meantime, the $240 million, 1,536-bed Goose Creek Correctional Center is scheduled to open in 2012 at Point MacKenzie. The medium-security men's facility, which is expected to alleviate Alaska's prison space shortage, is being funded through bonds issued by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The state will pay off the bonds by leasing the facility from the borough, and will take ownership once the bill is settled. Cornell has tried for years to solidify support for a private prison in Alaska, and became wrapped up in a far-reaching probe into political corruption. The company's lobbyist, Bill Bobrick, pleaded guilty on charges he tried to bribe Rep. Tom Anderson--who is now serving time in federal prison himself-- to advocate for a private prison. Cornell was not implicated.

August 8, 2009 Stock House
Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN) announced today that it has received from the State of Alaska, Department of Corrections ("Alaska DOC"), a Notice of Intent to Award a contract to house 1,000 state prisoners at its Hudson Correctional Facility (the "Facility") located in Hudson, Colorado. The Facility, which will have a service capacity of 1,250 beds, is presently under construction and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2009, at which point the Company anticipates initiating inmate ramp. Under the existing terms of the Notice of Intent, the Alaska DOC will house 1,000 adult male inmates at the Facility, with an agreed-upon 800-bed guarantee. Upon completion of the inmate ramp and once full occupancy has been achieved, the contract is expected to generate nearly $22 million in annualized operating revenues. The Notice of Intent to Award is subject to the expiration of the applicable protest period and final execution of a written contract, which is expected to occur in a few weeks. At that time, the Company anticipates that it will be able to confirm expected activation dates and to discuss the impact of startup expenses at the Facility in the third and fourth quarters of 2009.

March 8, 2007 Greeley Tribune
Hudson town board members decided Wednesday night to postpone a decision to move forward with plans on annexing a portion of unincorporated Weld County for future use as a private women's prison. Close to 50 residents from Weld County were at the meeting to voice concerns they had regarding the economic impact the proposed prison would create. Hudson Mayor Neal Pontius said the town plans to begin annexing what would be close to 320 acres northwest of Hudson. Once the area becomes part of the town, he said he would like to leave it up to the residents to vote on whether the area should be zoned for the use of the prison. Pontius said the vote is tentatively set for May. "I want to get all the information and I want to make a smart choice for the town," Pontius said. The annexation was postponed to get more residents' comments. Last June, the Colorado Department of Corrections awarded Houston-based Cornell Companies the bid to build an 832-bed women's prison in Hudson, a potentially $16 million annual contract. Cornell Companies runs prisons in 18 states throughout the country, including one juvenile treatment facility in Cañon City. The proposal for the prison was put forward to the city's town board last April. Some residents already have begun working to convince the community that a prison would be a bad choice for the town, said Laura Moreland, who lives outside the city limits in Fort Lupton. "We are opposed to private prisons in general," Moreland said. In the research she's done on private prisons she said shows higher escape rates. She said she also is concerned because the town does not have a police department. She said she wonders how the town will respond to the security issues a prison could create. "I think it is a huge concern," Moreland said. "The thought of having a prison that close is very frightening and I'm worried about the safety of my children." Other residents, however, felt the growth would be good for the town. "If some of the money is going to be used to build streets, then I'm for it," said resident Randy Childs. "I've been waiting 34 years for my dirt street to get paved." Pontius said it still remains unclear how much having a prison would actually increase the town's revenue.

Jos-Arz Therapeutic Public Charter School, Washington, DC
November 6, 2005 Washington Post
The reddish-brick building sits vacant on a tree-lined lot in Northeast Washington, a three-story monument to a failed experiment to bring down the exorbitant costs of special education in the District. Five years ago, the former seminary on Taylor Street became a public charter school for children with severe emotional disturbances. Officials from the school system and the city's youth services agencies enthusiastically endorsed the plan, seeing an opportunity to reduce the $40 million annual cost of sending such children to private facilities as far away as California and Utah. The D.C. Council also liked the idea -- and provided an unusual emergency allocation of $9.2 million so the charter school could increase its staff and convert the building to a 24-hour treatment facility. But instead of saving D.C. taxpayers money, the Jos-Arz Therapeutic Public Charter School turned into a costly failure. Jos-Arz, embroiled in a political battle between the council and the school board, enrolled fewer than half the number of students projected and never received enough money to complete the planned renovations. In June, the school moved out of its home on Taylor Street because it could not keep up with the rent, and the school board is considering revoking its charter. In all, Jos-Arz received about $15 million in city funds, of which $2.3 million was used for renovation expenses, former officials from the school say. Although there is sharp debate over who is to blame, everyone involved agrees that the city's investment essentially was wasted. "We spent a whole lot of money, and what do we have to show for it? Nothing," said former council member Kevin P. Chavous, one of the school's early supporters. In the early days, the plans of Jos-Arz founders Rollie and Gwendolyn Kimbrough resonated strongly with both city and school officials. But Jos-Arz opened only as a day school in fall 2000 because the building was not yet configured to serve residential students. Charter schools normally receive an allocation from the city based on their current enrollment. That formula was not going to work in the case of Jos-Arz, its advocates said, arguing that it needed a large infusion of funds so it could build a residential wing and hire medical specialists. The school was soon hemorrhaging money because of its low enrollment, Jos-Arz officials said. They said the situation was exacerbated by a city funding formula that did not take into account the high cost of the residential program. In June 2003, Gwendolyn Kimbrough quit as Jos-Arz's executive director, saying she had depleted her personal savings on the school. Houston-based Cornell Cos., which runs some of the private out-of-state facilities that enroll D.C. special education students, took over. Paul Doucette, a Cornell spokesman, said city officials assured the company that Jos-Arz would get more referrals from the D.C. Department of Mental Health and other agencies involved in the placement of special education students. But the department instead began putting more emphasis on community-based day programs. The school continued to receive "only a trickle of students," Doucette said, and Cornell pulled out in June.

October 12, 2005 Washington Post
The District school board is considering shutting down a public charter school for severely emotionally disturbed students that received $9 million from the city to buy a facility but did not come close to reaching the enrollment level it had promised and has since moved out of the building. The D.C. Council issued the $9 million revenue bond for the Jos-Arz Therapeutic Public Charter School in 2002 so it could buy a former seminary at 220 Taylor St. NE and renovate the property. Supporters of the unusual financing arrangement said it was an investment in the school system's effort to place a larger percentage of disabled students in public facilities. Placement of special education students in private facilities has cost the city tens of millions of dollars a year in tuition. But Jos-Arz, chartered in 2000 as a residential school for 70 students, has never enrolled more than 20 students and is no longer operating as a residential program, said Paul Doucette, a spokesman for the management company that ran the school from 2003 until early this year. The school moved out of the Taylor Street building before the summer and is now at 1401 Brentwood Pkwy. NE. The D.C. school board, which gave the school permission to open and is responsible for monitoring its progress, put Jos-Arz on probation in July, saying the school had violated the conditions and standards set forth in its charter. The board is scheduled today to discuss a recommendation to revoke the charter because the school has not submitted a satisfactory plan for improvements. The school "is not performing as agreed to under its charter. It wasn't serving the number of students in the program it said it would," said school board member Tommy Wells (District 3), who supports closing Jos-Arz. "Frankly, the investment the city made into this group -- the purpose is no longer being met." Doucette blamed the school's enrollment problems largely on the District government's bureaucracy.

Lamar, Colorado
November 3, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
Citizens voted Tuesday to change the city charter, which will now require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated in town. The measure also bars the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. The ballot measure passed 1,007 to 816. Plans to build a privately owned prison in town surfaced in 2003 and the issue has sparked a long fight. Concerned Citizens of Lamar, the group battling the prison proposal, have fought with city officials for the past three years and on Wednesday members said they were elated to hear the election results. "It's been a long and hard struggle - from lawsuits to protests - we are extremely happy that the citizens get to decide if there will be a prison located here," said Verdell Howard, CCL president. City Administrator Jeff Anderson said Wednesday that the people have spoken and he supports the outcome of the election. "I think we need to be very cautious before we ever approach this issue again." The fight to keep a privately owned prison from being constructed gained momentum last March when District Judge Douglass Tallman ruled against city officials who filed a lawsuit questioning the legality of a petition seeking a vote on the issue. City officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court in August 2004 questioning if CCL's petition had more than one subject. Tallman ruled against the city, clearing the way for CCL to proceed with the initiative process that was stalled when the lawsuit was filed. After months of fighting city hall, the petition was approved by the city clerk in April.

October 27, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
Citizens opposed to a proposed private prison charge that the local economic development agency is misrepresenting a ballot question on the prison. An amendment to the city charter, which will allow citizens the right to vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated in town, will be on the ballot next week. In August, CCL turned in more than 300 signatures to the city clerk. Only 167 signatures were needed to put the issue on the ballot. On Nov. 1, voters will decide whether to amend the city charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The measure also would bar the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. Verdell Howard, president of CCL, said Wednesday she is requesting that District Attorney Mike Davidson investigate whether Prowers County Development Inc. has violated a campaign law. Howard alleges that members of PCDI are lying to the public about the measure in fliers and cards they are circulating. Colorado law permits any person to file an affidavit with the district attorney alleging that fair campaign statutes have been violated. Davidson said that by law, he is required to investigate and prosecute if necessary. Howard said that PCDI has violated the statutes by printing misleading information about the ballot measure. Members of PCDI say the proposed amendment is not just about the right to vote on a private prison. PCDI has been handing out fliers and cards that say, "Under the proposed change, any business large or small, looking to open in Lamar might have to go through a citizen vote." Lisa DeLancey, economic development director for Prowers County, said Wednesday that the measure could have a negative impact on attracting new jobs to Lamar and Prowers County. "We are trying to make people realize that a prison is a business and if you are having to put a vote to the citizens for this business then what other businesses are we going to make jump through the same hoop - there is nothing false about our claim," DeLancey said.

October 14, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
An amendment to the city charter, which will allow citizens the right to vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated in town, will be on the ballot next month. Plans to build a 500- to 750-bed private prison in town have been hotly debated since the project was announced in 2003. The estimated construction cost for the proposed prison is $40 million. It would employ 225 workers. Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a group formed to fight the prison proposal, filed a petition seeking a vote on the issue last year, but their effort was held up when city officials filed suit questioning if CCL's petition had more than one subject. The lawsuit also asked if CCL has to first notify the city of intent to circulate a petition before it is submitted to the city. District Judge Douglass Tallman ruled against the city on both issues, clearing the way for CCL to proceed with the initiative process that was stalled when the lawsuit was filed. After months of fighting city leaders, CCL's petition was approved by the city clerk in April. In August, CCL turned in more than 300 signatures to the city clerk. Only 167 signatures were needed to put the issue on the ballot. On Nov. 1, voters will decide whether or not to amend the city charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The measure also would bar the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison, or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. Members of a committee trying to recruit a privately owned prison to Lamar have said that although they remain firm in their resolve, they have decided to tone down their efforts. Lamar City Administrator Jeff Anderson said Thursday that the issue is currently at a standstill. He said the project has been compromised because of a series of events including last year's riot at the privately owned Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs.

September 27, 2005 Lamar Daily News
An amendment to the Lamar Home Rule Charter is on the November ballot. The amendment is designed to change the city charter to allow citizens the right to vote on whether a privately-operated prison facility can be constructed or operated within the city. The ballot measure, which will be mailed to active voters between Oct. 7 and Oct. 17, reads as follows: Referred Measure 2A: Amendments to the Home Rule Charter of the City of Lamar, Colorado concerning privately operated correctional facilities; and in connection therewith, requiring voter approval before any privately operated correctional facility can be constructed or operated within the CIty of Lamar, be recruited or promoted by City employees for the City of Lamar, receive funds from the CIty of Lamar, or receive water and wastewater services from City-owned water or wastewater utilities. A citizens' group, Concerned Citizens of Lamar, proposed the amendment after an ad hoc committee consisting of City Administrator Jeff Anderson, local business leaders and private citizens made public the pros and cons of a privately-owned prison facility operating in Lamar.

April 15, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
A group of citizens opposed to a proposed private prison have finally won the right to circulate petitions calling for a vote on the matter. After months of fighting city leaders, members of the Concerned Citizens of Lamar said Wednesday that the town clerk has approved their form of their petition calling for a citywide vote before any prison can be built or operated in the city. "We are happy to finally get this petition going," said Verdell Howard, spokeswomen for CCL. If the CCL collects the necessary signatures, the issue will be on the November ballot. The petition asks that the issue be decided as part of the November election rather than at a special election. "It will save the city a lot of money," Howard said. In August, city officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court challenging the legality of certain aspects of CCL's petition. The lawsuit also asked if CCL has to first notify the city of intent to circulate a petition before it is submitted to the city. A judge ruled in March against the city on both issues, clearing the way for CCL to proceed with the initiative process that was stalled when the lawsuit was filed. Howard said that since the judge ruled in CCL's favor, the city has been cooperative in every way. Howard said that once CCL files a statement of intent to circulate a petition, the organization will then have 90 days to collect approximately five percent of the registered voters in Lamar or 168 signatures. The petition, which was submitted to the city again last month, would amend the city charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The measure also would bar the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. Howard said that the group will file a letter of intent and begin the signature-gathering process on Monday. "We will start gathering signatures right after we submit our letter of intent. We anticipate getting more than the required amount of signatures just in case," Howard said.

March 18, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The fight to keep a privately owned prison from being constructed here has gained momentum. District Judge Douglass Tallman ruled Monday against city officials who filed a lawsuit questioning the legality of a petition seeking a vote on the issue. The petition was filed by Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a group formed to fight the prison proposal. The defendants listed on the complaint were CCL members Verdell Howard, Wayne Stokke and Nancy Turner. City officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court last August questioning if CCL's petition had more than one subject. The lawsuit also asked if CCL has to first notify the city of intent to circulate a petition before it is submitted to the city. Tallman ruled Monday against the city on both issues, clearing the way for CCL to proceed with the initiative process that was stalled when the lawsuit was filed. The petition, submitted to the city Aug. 16, would amend the city charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The measure also would bar the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time to recruit a prison without a vote. Howard said that an issue of this magnitude should be put to a vote of citizens and CCL is excited about moving forward. "We are so elated with the judge’s decision - we are as excited as can be," Howard said. Howard, who was notified about the ruling Tuesday, said CCL members are just trying to exercise their rights under the state's system of direct democracy.
"The city disagreed with us, so they tried to stop us through intimidation but it didn't work," Howard said. Last month, members of a committee trying to recruit a privately owned prison to Lamar said that although they remain firm in their resolve, they have decided to tone down their efforts. Lamar Mayor Elwood Gillis said that the project has been compromised because of a series of events including last year's riot at the privately owned Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. Plans to build a 500- to 750-bed private prison in town have been debated since the project was announced in 2003.

March 17, 2005 Lamar Daily News
District Judge Douglas Tallman issued a ruling late yesterday finding that a petition submitted by the Concerned Citizens of Lamar (CCL) is valid. The petition seeks to amend the Lamar City Charter to require a vote before a privately owned prison could be built or operated in Lamar, or before the city could sell water or sewer services to a private prison or use city staff or resources in the recruitment of a prison. The CCL filed the petition last summer, seeking the election to amend the charter, but the Lamar City Council then filed an action in Prowers County District Court seeking a court opinion on whether the petition language violated the state's single subject rule in ballot initiatives. During oral arguments in the case in December, the two sides were at odds over whether the single subject rule applied to home rule cities, as well as to whether the language in the petition constituted multiple subjects. The filing of the lawsuit spurred complaints by the CCL that they were being sued for exercising their rights in the petition process, partially because of a clause in the original motion for declaratory judgment which could have allowed the court to award costs and fees, including any expert witness fees, to the city. The city claimed, however, that it was filing the court action to clarify the issue because the city would be faced with the burden of legally defending it if it were later challenged. In his ruling, Tallman noted that the single subject rule was intended to apply only to statewide issues, not to local or municipal issues, thus local issues are not required to conform to the single subject rule. "Had the legislature intended this requirement to encompass all initiatives, both local and statewide, it could have simply included such language in the enabling legislation," Tallman wrote. In a news release issued by the CCL this morning, Howard said she was happy with the decisions. "All we are trying to do is exercise our rights under Colorado's system of direct democracy," she said in the release. "The city disagreed with us, so they tried to stop us through intimidation."

February 24, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
Members of a committee trying to recruit a privately owned prison to Lamar said Wednesday that although they remain firm in their resolve, they have decided to tone down their efforts. Lamar City Administrator Jeff Anderson said that the issue is currently at a standstill. Lamar Mayor Elwood Gillis said the project has been compromised because of a series of events including last year's riot at the privately owned Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. "That riot sparked an audit and a legislative review panel," Gillis said. Gillis said the committee has been receiving strong signals to step back and monitor the emerging changes in bed requirements, the potential changes in sentencing laws and the Department of Corrections funding for the coming fiscal year. Anderson said the decision to slow down efforts also gives the district court more time to look into a current lawsuit filed by the city asking for a ruling on the legality of a petition filed by prison opponents. Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a group formed to fight the prison proposal, is seeking a vote on the issue and several related topics. City officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court in August questioning if the petition has more than one subject. The case was brought before District Judge Douglas Tallman last December. He has not ruled on the matter.

December 17, 2004 Lamar Daily News
District Judge Douglas Tallman yesterday heard testimony in a Prowers County District Court action in which the City of Lamar is seeking a court opinion on whether a petition filed by the Concerned Citizens of Lamar (CCL) violates the state's single subject rule on ballot initiatives. The CCL filed the petition August 16 seeking an amendment to the Lamar City Charter that would call for a citizen vote before a privately owned prison could be built or operated in the community. But the petition seeks additional measures, including a citizen vote before the city could sell sewer and water services to a private prison located outside the city limits or before the city could use staff time or public funds in the recruitment or promotion of a prison. The city declined to approve the petition for circulation, however, after City Attorney Darla Scranton-Specht cited concerns that it may violate the state's single subject rule. The council later voted to authorize Specht to seek a declaratory judgment in district court - essentially an opinion from the judge on the issues.

December 17, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
Opponents of a proposed private prison packed a Prowers County courtroom Wednesday to protest the project. Concerned Citizens of Lamar, a group formed to fight the prison proposal, is seeking a vote on the proposal and several related topics. However, city officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court in August asking for a ruling on the legality of the petition. The case was brought before Judge Douglas Tallman. He said that he will not rule on the matter until next year. Plans to build a 500- to 750-bed private prison in town have been hotly debated since the project was announced last year.

August 31, 2004 Lamar Daily News
The Concerned Citizens of Lamar has a submitted a response in Prowers County District Court to a legal action filed by the city of Lamar seeking a court opinion on the CCL's proposed petition calling for an amendment to the Lamar city charter. The CCL's proposed petition, submitted to the city August 16, seeks to amend the charter to require a citizen vote before a privately owned prison can be built or operated within the city. The petition also contains language prohibiting the city from selling water or sewer services to a privately owned prison or from using city funds or staff time in recruitment of a prison without a vote.  The Lamar City Council, however, voted to file the action in Prowers County District Court seeking a declaratory judgment as to whether Lamar is subject to the state's single subject rule for amendments, and whether the CCL's petition contains multiple subjects. The city also sought a stay in the ordinary five day time frame the city has to rule on the validity of the petition, and sought an opinion on whether the CCL must first file a notice of intent to circulate a petition before it can be submitted to the city. The city also requested the issue be heard before a jury.  In responding to the court action, the CCL's attorney, Stephen D. Harris of Colorado Springs, requested a speedy hearing as well as seeking summary dismissal of the city's action. A speedy hearing request would allow the Court to advance the issue on its calendar, and Harris requested the Court's earliest consideration of the issue.  Harris also seeks the Court to order the city clerk to issue a ruling in the August 16 petition immediately, saying the clerk has a right and responsibility to accept or reject on form only. 


August 27, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain

The fight over a proposed private prison has moved to the courtroom.  City officials filed suit in Prowers County District Court seeking a ruling on the provisions of a second petition calling for a vote on the prison, filed by the Concerned Citizens of Lamar.  CCL, a recently formed nonprofit group, says that an issue of this importance should be decided by the voters.  CCL filed a second petition last week after its first petition was rejected in July, and after efforts failed to reach a compromise with the city that would have sent the measure to the ballot.  The defendants listed on the complaint are CCL members Verdell Howard, Wayne Stokke and Nancy Turner. Scranton-Specht said an answer to the complaint is due by Sept. 9.  "We are just a group of innocent people thinking that we have the right to petition our government, but we are finding out, I guess, that we don't have that right in Lamar," Howard said. "We will move forward from here."  (Pueblo Chieftain, August 27, 2004)

Leidel Comprehensive Sanctions Center, Houston, Texas
December 15, 2009 AP
A former contract guard at a Houston halfway house has been sentenced to five months in federal prison for sexual abuse of a person in detention. U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson said 30-year-old Nathan Jones of Houston was sentenced to prison on Tuesday. He will serve five months in home confinement after completing the prison sentence. Jones was convicted over the summer of the federal felony offense. He admitted that in 2007, while employed at Leidel Comprehensive Sanction Center, he engaged in a sexual act with a female federal prisoner in his office.

February 15, 2006 Dallas Morning News
A man who police say escaped a Houston halfway house and killed three men in Fort Worth claims to have killed a man in Albuquerque in 1995, New Mexico authorities said. Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, who aligns himself with white supremacists, was arrested in November and charged with fatally shooting three men in Fort Worth. Mr. Wilkins, 37, of Houston told authorities he killed as many as 12 people in two states who owed drug debts, officials said. According to federal court records, Mr. Wilkins escaped from Harris County on Oct. 2 after he was issued a religious pass to attend church. Mr. Wilkins was serving a five-year sentence for felony gun possession at the Houston-based Cornell Corrections Facility, a privately operated halfway house contracted by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

November 23, 2005 Houston Chronicle
Reacting to the capture of a Houston halfway house escapee now suspected in three slayings in North Texas, Mayor Bill White's crime victims advocate on Wednesday denounced as outrageous that anyone could walk out of a community corrections center without the public being notified. Andy Kahan said the incident opens a "Pandora's box" of issues related to how escapes are handled. "This is a public safety crisis," said Kahan. "How many other fugitives have escaped from a halfway house that the public is not made aware of?" Federal officials responded that employees at the low-security halfway house followed policy the day Christopher Wilkins' walked away, and that nothing in the inmate's behavior indicated he was a particular threat or that he had any plans to slip out. He is now charged in connection with the Fort Worth slayings. Wilkins' capture on Nov. 5 ended a monthlong taste of freedom for the federal inmate. He is being held on $1 million bail in the Tarrant County Jail in connection with the Oct. 26 shooting death of Gilbert Vallejo, 47, and the slayings two days later of Mike Silva, 33, and Willie Freeman, 40. He also is charged in a series of crimes committed within just 11 days of Vallejo's slaying, including aggravated assault and two auto thefts, Fort Worth police said. "If there had been a warning and a media alert and the public was informed to be on the lookout for Wilkins, you can certainly speculate that his crime spree may have been prevented," Kahan said. Wilkins, 37, received a pass to attend church on Oct. 2 but did not return to Leidel Comprehensive Sanctions Center in downtown Houston. The halfway house is operated by Cornell Companies Inc., which has a contract with the Bureau of Prisons. Officials at the center would not comment on the escape. According to a federal arrest warrant, the staff contacted local police and hospitals the day of Wilkins' escape but could not find him. He was officially listed as an escapee at 5 p.m. His whereabouts were unknown until his capture in Fort Worth.

November 23, 2005 Dallas Morning News
A criminal who police said may have ties to white supremacy has been charged in the slayings of three men during his escape last month. Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, 37, of Houston, already jailed on unrelated charges, was arrested on suspicion of murder and capital murder. He is jailed in lieu of bail exceeding $1 million. Mr. Wilkins is accused of gunning down Gilbert Vallejo, 47, on Oct. 26 as he left the Lady Luck Lounge on South Jennings Avenue near downtown. Mr. Vallejo was shot numerous times, police said. Mr. Wilkins also is accused of fatally shooting Mike Silva, 33, of Hood County and Willie Freeman, 40, of Fort Worth. They were found Oct. 28 lying in a ditch off the roadway in the 9600 block of Old Weatherford Road in west Fort Worth. Both were shot in the head, said Fort Worth police spokesman Lt. Ralph Swearingin. Police do not have a motive but are looking into Mr. Wilkins' background. He was serving a 60-month sentence at the Cornell Corrections Facility, a privately operated halfway house contracted by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. U.S. marshals filed a criminal complaint this month charging Mr. Wilkins with escape.

November 22, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A federal felon now charged in the slayings of three men in Fort Worth escaped from a halfway house in Houston last month after telling officials he was going to church. Christopher Wilkins, 37, is being held on $1 million bail at Tarrant County Jail in the Oct. 26 shooting death of Gilbert Vallejo, 47, and the slayings two days later of Mike Silva, 33, and Willie Freeman, 40, Fort Worth police said. On Oct. 2, Wilkins slipped out of Leidel Comprehensive Sanctions Center, 1819 Commerce, after receiving a pass to attend religious services, according to the federal arrest warrant. Local police were notified after he failed to return by 1:15 p.m. Wilkins was officially listed as an escapee at 5 p.m., the federal affidavit said. The facility in Houston is operated by the Cornell Companies Inc. Officials with the halfway house could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. After his escape, Wilkins made his way to Fort Worth where he has been charged in an 11-day violent crime spree - including aggravated assaults and home burglaries, in addition to the slayings.

Leo Chesney, Live Oak, California
May 23, 2008 Appeal-Democrat
A Linda man convicted of having sex with a female inmate when he was a corrections officer in Live Oak was sentenced Friday to 120 days in jail. The lawyer for Mark Stephen Susoeff called the crime "stupid." Sutter County Judge Chris Chandler said it was "beyond stupid. It's disgusting." Susoeff, 45, who worked at the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility, received oral sex in January 2007 from an inmate near her locker in the early morning at the facility, according to Susoeff's probation report. Chandler said Susoeff's actions undermine "every bit of legitimacy that the system has." "You're going to have make amends for the institution that you have let down," said Chandler. Texas-based Cornell Companies contracts with the California Department of Corrections to house about female offenders in the minimum-security facility. "We feel strongly that any improper conduct should be punished," said Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel. Cornell hires people who have work experience but are new to corrections, Seigel said. The $10-an-hour pay Susoeff is said to have received is in the range of entry-level compensation, Seigel said. Susoeff worked from 1993-2006 as a custodian for the Yuba County Superintendent of Schools and was paid $16 an hour, the probation report said. Defense attorney Donald Wahlberg said Susoeff, who also was placed on three years probation, needs help with an alcohol problem. Susoeff's probation requirements include his completing alcohol counseling. For the past 15 years, the Linda resident has consumed a case of beer on weekends and four to five beers after work, according to the probation report. "Maybe if I quit drinking beer, I'll quit smoking, too," Susoeff said in the report. Susoeff provided cigarettes and a Bic lighter to a female inmate who had witnessed his receiving oral sex, the probation report said. He supplied the contraband in exchange for her silence, according to the report. The probation report also detailed Susoeff's actions in March 2007 with another inmate with whom he is said to have had oral sex and intercourse. Susoeff initially denied allegations that he had sex with inmates and said he was angered by rumors from inmates at the facility. In an April 29 interview at the county Probation Department, Susoeff admitted to the first sexual encounter with the female inmate but denied sex with the second inmate in March 2007. He said family problems and a stressful job left him "out of it." "I didn't have a brain left," Susoeff stated. He said he plans to move to the state of Washington but that his house here isn't selling. "It's been one hit after another," Susoeff said in the probation interview. "You can only take so many hits and now my wall of defense is gone."

November 17, 2007 Appeal-Democrat
A male correctional officer of the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility for women in Live Oak was arrested on suspicion of having sex with an inmate, a Sutter County prosecutor said Friday. Mark Steven Susoeff, 45, of the 1700 block of Deborah Lane, East Linda, was arrested at 1 p.m. Thursday at his residence and booked into Yuba County Jail, where bail was set at $15,000. He was no longer being held Friday. Susoeff was arrested after an investigation by the Internal Affairs Division of the California Department of Corrections, said Sutter County Assistant District Attorney Fred Schroeder. The minimum security facility is owned and operated by a private firm, Cornell Companies Inc. of Houston, Tex., but overseen by the state. Susoeff allegedly had sex with the inmate, who was not named, on two occasions, once in January and once in March. Leo Chesney Director Paula Ford said she could not comment and referred questions to Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel. Seigel said the company and state officials began investigating after the inmate reported the incidents. Susoeff was then placed on administrative leave, he said. Like other employees, Susoeff underwent a background check before being hired, said Seigel. “We believe they’re good but you can’t prevent everything like this,” he said. Seigel declined to say how long Susoeff worked at the facility.

June 19, 2002
Live Oak's Leo Chesney Center probably will survive the budget ax, says a state official who Thursday blasted the facility's operator for its "sleazy" public relations campaign. "It's looking much more like it's going to stay open," said Stephen Green, assistant secretary in the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. "This isn't over until the budget is final. Certainly, the indications are it's going to stay open." The tentative budget deal to keep Chesney open was hammered out Wednesday. "Clearly, we're a little better off today than we were two days ago with the decision made (Wednesday)," said Marvin Wiebe, senior vice president of Cornell Companies Inc., which runs the Chesney Center under a contract with the state. "The legislators had some concerns about the lack of options for women to do their time in Northern California and wanted to see as many options as possible remain and indicated they were willing to fund that," Green said. "The legislators had some concerns about the lack of options for women to do their time in Northern California and wanted to see as many options as possible remain and indicated they were willing to fund that," Green said. "When they are willing to fund it, that makes it a lot easier for us."  "This was just one of just hundreds of government programs that were being looked at to be scaled back or eliminated," Green said. "This one got more attention because Cornell made some of the most outrageous lies imaginable and went around the state accusing us of murder. They behaved in a most unprofessional manner." Cornell "used the Enron playbook," Green said, referring to the bankrupt energy trading company. "They're a Houston-based company, a for-profit concern. They're very interested in protecting their profits. They don't care who they have to malign to do it." Green called Cornell's public relations campaign "sleazy. I don't think it was slick. It bore no relationship to the truth ... "He said there's a chance the state may put the contract out to bid or have the Department of Corrections take over management. "We have an option on the property and therefore control the property," Wiebe said. "The expectation of the community is that Cornell would operate it as we have for the last 13 years." If the state took over, it would cost an additional $1 million for salaries and benefits, he said. (Privateer News)

June 12, 2002
Gov. Gray Davis, facing pressure from several lawmakers, reversed himself partially and agreed to permit one of five private prisons to continue operating, administration officials said Tuesday. At least two dozen women legislators signed a letter last month urging that Davis keep open the Leo Chesney Correctional Facility at Live Oak, north of Sacramento. Also in doubt is whether the contractor, Cornell Co. of Houston, would continue operating the facility, or whether the contract would be put up for competitive bidding. The administration, trying to close a $24-billion budget deficit, had contended that closing the five private prisons would save the state $2.8 million.

June 8, 2002
Gov. Gray Davis' plans to close five private prisons, including two in Kern County, by next week have been halted as the Legislature's budget negotiators debate whether some or all of the facilities should remain open. Negotiators are split on the prisons' future, with the Assembly voting to close them and the Senate voting to restore $2.8 million to Gov. Gray Davis' budget to keep them operating. More than half the private prisons' 1,400 inmates have been paroled, sent to firefighting camps or transferred to prisons operated by the state Department of Corrections, he said. The plan had been to move the remaining inmates, staff and equipment by June 15. Contracts of all five of the facilities expire June 30 and the Department of Corrections does not want to renew them. All of the 340 inmates once housed at the Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility in Bakersfield have been moved or paroled, said Durwood Sigrest, head of the firm that operates the facility. Sigrest said the staff of 80 has been trimmed down to about 20 and staffers are waiting to hear about the next move in the stalled closure plan. A few inmates remain at the facility operated by Wackenhut Corrections Corp. in McFarland, said a spokesman for the corrections department. The delay creates staffing problems for Cornell Cos. Inc., which operates the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility for Women in Live Oak, north of Sacramento, and the Baker Community Correctional Facility east of Los Angeles, said company spokesman Don Fields. The Chesney center has laid off employees anticipating the closure, while the Baker facility plans to shut down its inmate-staffed fire and rescue team as of midnight Sunday. (Bakersfield.com)

Lincoln County Detention Center, Carrizozo, New Mexico
December 23, 2008 Ruidoso Sun
A Lincoln County man has been convicted for his part in a jail riot that occurred at the Lincoln County Detention Center on Jan. 13, 2008. Jose Prieto, 25 was convicted Friday of assault on a jail, conspiracy and criminal damage to property exceeding $1,000. Eighteen prisoners in the Carrizozo facility's "Delta Pod" were charged with offenses after the riot. The pod had housed 28 prisoners ranging from accused murderers to petty misdemeanor probation violations. Since the riots, Emerald Correctional Management Company has assumed jail management from Cornell Corrections Company, and this type of prisoner housing has been under study.

June 19, 2008 Ruidoso News
Before Lincoln County commissioners filed over to the county detention center in Carrizozo for a semi-annual tour and lunch, an official with Emerald Correctional Management Inc. briefed them on changes since the company took over May 4. Al Patino, vice president for governmental affairs for Emerald, said security was "first and foremost" among plenty of changes. Emerald took over from Cornell Companies, the firm that absorbed Correctional System Inc., which managed the jail since it opened in April 2001. But complaints about staffing shortages, the filing of several lawsuits and an in-mate disturbance in January created dissatisfaction. Cornell officials in February announced they intended to execute a 90-day notice to terminate the contract with the county that was to run until August 2009. Emerald was the only company to respond to a request for proposals. Patino said they found equipment in disrepair and other items needing maintenance. They also painted. But major changes were tied to security, he said. "We found a lot of procedural issues, such as classification of inmates," Patino said. "We determined why each inmate was there and his previous history to decide on the proper housing." A warden from one of their Texas prisons helped identify problems, he said. For the one juvenile in the jail, they worked with the district attorney, then requested and received in writing a court order from the judge for him to stay until sentenced. Commission Chairman Tom Battin asked if the company expected to detain juveniles on a regular basis and Patino said no, this 16-year-old is being sentenced as an adult and is a special case. Patino thanked County Manager Tom Stewart, who was instrumental in allowing the company to address issues immediately, he said.

April 17, 2008 Ruidoso News
A one year contract with four renewal options was approved Tuesday by Lincoln County commissioners with a new firm to manage the county detention center in Carrizozo. Emerald Correctional Management LLC, founded in 1996 with headquarters in Louisiana, was represented by Al Patiño, director of special projects, and Clay Lee, chief executive officer. They were in the county seat of Carrizozo Monday beginning the transition of detention center employees from Cornell Industries to Emerald. In February, Cornell officials notified the county they intended to terminate the company's contract with the county "for convenience," with an effective date of May 4. The contract was to run through August 2009. The county took aggressive action for the procurement of a new operator and consideration of careful planning for an orderly transition, said County Manager Tom Stewart. Emerald was the only responsive submission to a request for proposals advertised by the county with a March 28 deadline for submission. After a closed executive session during a special commission meeting Friday to consider the proposal from Emerald officials, commissioners awarded the RFP to the company, subject to negotiation of a successful contract. Following the recommendation of Stewart, and with a few minor changes proposed by County Attorney Alan Morel from the initial submission, the contract was approved Tuesday in a unanimous vote by commissioners. "The firm has begun steps to transition current employees to the new company to meet the May 4 deadline for assuming operations," Stewart told commissioners. Hitting the deadline without a management company could have resulted in the jail being closed temporarily while Stewart attempted to organize a county-run operation. The changes specified in the approval included: County prisoners are given first priority to be housed in the center. A flat fee is charged to the county by Emerald, whether the prisoner is county or federal. The fee is $51.75 per day per prisoner. More definition of who will provide transport personnel and under what circumstances. The county provides the vehicles in all cases. Pre-adjudication, Emerald will furnish the driver/guard. After adjudication, the County Sheriff's Department will handle the job. Sheriff Rick Virden detailed some other situations where his department would be responsible, which included someone who commits an offense inside the county and is arrested outside New Mexico. No psychological evaluation is required for employees. Patiño said in Texas, no correctional officers are required to be evaluated. Insurance coverage was increased from $1 million to $3 million for occurrences and limits of liability. A provision for a performance bond was eliminated. In subsequent option years, the rates will not be increased by Emerald more than a 2.5 cap on the Consumer Price Index. Stewart said he was extremely encouraged by the contract and the attitude of company executives. "The company is forward-looking and they are discussing options for the future," he said. The center holds 144 prisoners. He based his operating calculations on 130 inmates, Stewart said, adding, the more beds that can be leased to federal law enforcement agencies, the better the financial break for the county. He anticipates a $388,000 increase and an annual operating budget of $2,760,538, "but that covers more officers and a facility up-to-par with standards by the American Corrections Association," Stewart said. Revenues generated by bed rentals and other sources will offset about $1,360,000, leaving the cost to the county at $1.4 million. Stewart said the company's reputation is good and Lee just returned from an operation they run in Israel. Morel said a quality assurance plan will be brought back to the commission later that will cover employee training requirements.

January 25, 2008 Ruidoso News
An investigation by a Lincoln County Grand Jury of the county detention center launched before a riot incident Jan. 13 already is bearing positive results, said 12th Judicial District Attorney Scot Key. He explained that during the normal course of reviewing several cases that involved the jail, including an aggravated assault and escape, grand jury members requested an investigation of the situation at the jail in the county seat of Carrizozo. "They wanted a better idea of what was happening," Key said Thursday. "They completed the review and sent a report to District Judge Karen Parsons." When a riot subsequently erupted at the jail this month, "That kind of situation kind of highlighted what the grand jury was concerned about. "As a result of two or three things and my on-going concern about the jail, about staffing and (personnel) training and other issues, we asked the county commission to start looking into it prior to the uprising, which highlighted the need for commissioners to review their contract with Cornell Companies. I felt our office had to intervene." But Key said he's seen positive results. "We've gotten involved. Cornell and the county have had many discussions and I think the lines of communication have opened," Key said. "We've studied the issues and problems, and have a positive plan of action for the future. "Last week, our office began training all jail staff and Cornell agreed to strategic planning to provide more training to hire more and more qualified people from a larger geographic area. Very positive things are going to happen with Cornell, the county and the jail, and we look forward to really good service being provided to the citizens of the county." Key met with commissioners Tuesday in a closed executive session. One of the incidents sparking the investigation into the jail's operation by Cornell under contract with the county was an escape last October by an inmate, who held a guard captive at knifepoint. County Manager Tom Stewart said he could not discuss specifics, but commented that, "The county is in beneficial discussions with the district attorney regarding a variety of jail issues in general."

January 14, 2008 Ruidoso News
Twenty-eight prisoners in the Delta pod at the Lincoln County Detention Center in Carrizozo were at the center of a riot reported at approximately 7 p.m. Sunday. As per policy, Cornell Companies, which manages the detention center, immediately contacted local law enforcement to provide rapid perimeter containment on the outside of the main fence. Responding to the scene were the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, New Mexico State Police and the Carrizozo Police Department. Lincoln County EMS and the Carrizozo Volunteer Fire Department were also at the scene while a situation assessment was made. Within an hour, the situation was reported as "contained" with no serious injuries to inmates, officers or prison personnel. Reportedly, tear gas was used to bring the riot under control, and emergency technicians were called to administer aid as a result of the gas. Severe damage to the Delta pod was reported, including the destruction of surveillance cameras, broken glass and bathroom fixtures torn from the wall. Investigators later reported that approximately six of the 28 prisoners were actually involved in the riot and further interviews would be conducted to determine the cause of the violence. A number of the prisoners involved have been transferred to other facilities. Last October, a prisoner escaped the Lincoln County Detention Center when he held a guard at knifepoint. The escapee was captured later that day after he was sighted and reported by a county resident. In March 2002, a "mini" riot at the detention center ensued when inmates protested the snack policy in the commissary, causing $3,000 in damage to windows, mattresses and plumbing. The riot was blamed mostly on federal prisoners transferred to the facility.

January 14, 2008 AP
Tear gas was used to quell an hour-long melee instigated by about one-half dozen prisoners in a pod at the Lincoln County Detention Center. The disturbance began about 6:30 p.m. Sunday and was subdued by guards and Lincoln County sheriff's officers, said Charles Seigel of San Diego, a spokesman for Cornell Companies, which runs the jail. Investigators were trying to determine what triggered the uprising, he said. A few prisoners were treated for minor injuries, Seigel said. None of the guards or sheriff's officers were injured, he said. A small group of prisoners tried to take over the dorm-style pod that holds 28 inmates, and four to six prisoners were continuously involved in the uprising, Seigel said. "There was some damage to plumbing and toilets, things like that," he said. A surveillance camera also was damaged, Seigel said. The jail has five pods that hold a maximum of 32 prisoners each.

October 11, 2007 Ruidoso News
A prisoner who made an armed escape from the Lincoln County Detention Center a few minutes after midnight Thursday morning was arrested in White Oaks Thursday afternoon. Fred Berry, 36, was taken into custody by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and a knife measuring between eight and nine inches was confiscated. In his escape, Berry held prison guard Raymond LaFave with a knife at his neck and demanded to be released from the prisoner pod and the detention center. According to the probable cause statement filed in Ruidoso Magistrate Court, Berry also threatened Lieutenant Randy Lucero with the knife. Reportedly, Berry told the guards, "If you don't let me out, we're dying here tonight." Charles Seigel, a public information officer for Cornell Companies, the detention center's manager, confirmed that it is against company policy for the prisoner to be released from the jail. "I can't speak to the particular situation," he said by phone, "but it is definitely not our policy for the doors to have been opened." Cornell's local commander Roger Jeffers was unavailable for comment at press time. In the BOLO (Be On the Look Out) that was issued immediately after the escape, Berry was described as a white male with blue eyes, 6 feet tall and 230 pounds with long brown hair (in a ponytail when last seen) Berry added several charges to his list of crimes when he cut the tires on two vehicles as he departed the detention center. Then he forced LaFave to drive him to the nearby Allsup's at the intersection of Highways 380 and 54, where, at knife-point, he robbed the store of cigarettes and a lighter before disappearing on foot into the night.

March 12, 2002 A weekend without candy bars sparked a mini-riot at the Lincoln County Detention Center that lasted less than a half-hour. Prisoners in one of the jail's dormitory units tried to light their mattresses on fire, plugged up their toilets and threw things at guards who tried to settle them down, according to Lincoln County Manager Tom Stewart. The reason for the uprising: A woman who sells the prisoners chips, candy and other snacks did not show up over the weekend. "They didn't get their candy bars," Stewart said. "They didn't get their snacks." The jail in Carrizozo, which is less than two years old and is managed by Correctional Systems Inc., was in the process of switching from a local vendor for inmate snacks to a larger out-of-state company, Stewart said. He said the local vendor, who comes to the jail and takes orders for snacks and then returns to deliver them, stopped coming. That left inmates with no alternatives to jail food, and that made them mad, he said. (ABQ Journal)

Moshannon Valley Correctional Center, Clearfield, Pennsylvania
September 17, 2009 The Tribune-Democrat
Two former guards at a federal prison in Philipsburg pleaded guilty Wednesday to providing inmates with contraband, including cell phones, cigarettes, MP3 players and muscle enhancers. Bryan Williams II and Ryan J. Spicher were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson in Johnstown to one year of probation and a $1,000 fine each. They had pleaded guilty to one count each of providing contraband inside the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center in Centre County. The prison is a low-security lockup for male prisoners in the federal system. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines said Williams was involved in the criminal activity from June 2007 to Dec. 11, 2007. Spicher furnished the contraband to inmates from January 2007 to Aug. 31 of that same year, Haines said. The men could have faced prison terms of up to six months and fines of up to $5,000. Moshannon Valley prison is run by Cornell Cos.

February 11, 2009 The Progress News
At yesterday's Clearfield County commissioners' meeting, Decatur Township Supervisor Andy Rebar asked the commissioners to correct inequities in property taxes by performing a countywide property reassessment. According to Mr. Rebar, county residents are unfairly shouldering too much of the property tax burden while commercial property owners are getting a break. Mr. Rebar said the impetus for this occurred when the Cornell private prison opened several years ago in Decatur Township. He said it was projected to provide local municipalities and the school district with $1 million a year in tax revenue, but after the county assessed the property it only ended up paying roughly half that. Mr. Rebar said he then looked at what other commercial property owners were paying in real estate taxes and said he discovered that they were disproportionately low when compared to residential properties.

May 5, 2008 The Progress News
Some 126 local, county and state officials and guests gathered Friday at Brady Township Community Center for the Clearfield County Association of Township Officials Spring Convention. There are 30 second class townships in the county as well as 19 boroughs and one city… Andy Rebar, Decatur Township supervisor, spoke to the group about the Cornell facility that he said is a federally funded, federally contracted private prison built in Decatur Township. He said he was "wholeheartedly" in favor of it and the annual funding for the township was to be $57,000 to $62,000 but instead only $15,290 was received. He said the township has hired a legal team and will fight this. He asked for help from other officials by writing a letter of support. He said property assessments need to be fair and balanced. Clearfield County commissioner Mark McCracken said the county is aware of the situation and is taking action.

September 22, 2007 Altoona Mirror
A federal judge has rejected a request by an inmate at the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center to stop sending “Latino” inmates to the facility. Rudolph P. Keszthelyi contended in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Johnstown that prison authorities are segregating primarily illegal immigrants at Moshannon Valley, a private prison operated by Cornell Co. Inc. of Houston, Texas. The prison, located in the Phillipsburg area, has been open for about a year. In his suit, Keszthelyi claims that the atmosphere at the prison is volatile because of a large number of Latino inmates, and a minority of black inmates from Washington, D.C., are being housed there. The prison holds few whites. Keszthelyi asked for an injunction to bring about an immediate change so that the inmate population will be more racially balanced. Federal magistrate Lisa Pupo Lenihan recommended in August that no injunction be issued because she said Keszthelyi could not show “irreparable harm” if the request was denied. The inmate filed objections to Lenihan’s report, arguing that segregation of inmates was illegal and noting that “the atmosphere at Moshannon Valley is oppressive, as at any time the majority of Latino prisoners can decide to take matters into their own hands and cause harm to a minority group or one individual.” He said the situation is causing him “severe emotional distress.” U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson this week adopted the magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed the request for an injunction. The magistrate said any request for an injunction “must always be viewed with great caution because judicial restraint is especially called for in dealing with the complex and intractable problems of prison administration.” She said “The federal courts are not overseers of the day-to-day management of prisons.” Keszthelyi claims a race riot broke out Feb. 6 at the prison, resulting in a month-and-a-half lockdown of the facility.

May 1, 2007 Centre Daily Times
A school district and township, set to take in more than $200,000 in annual property tax revenue from Pennsylvania's first private prison, are now appealing a county assessment of the $74 million facility in an effort to get additional funds. The appeals process could take months and discussion at the first hearing Monday indicated the matter is likely headed to the Clearfield County Court of Common Pleas. "This is an unusual facility that is going to take some unusual valuation, conclusions, theories, projections and assumptions, and I see this case in court," said Anthony R. Thompson, an Allentown attorney representing Cornell Cos. Inc. -- a Texas firm that built the Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility. The 1,300-bed prison, owned by W.B.P. Leasing Inc., is located in Decatur Township, which filed an appeal in March. Shortly thereafter, the Philipsburg-Osceola Area school board authorized its solicitor, Winifred Jones-Wenger, to join with the township in the appeal. She has not yet filed the paperwork to intervene but plans to do so, she said Monday. But the local solicitors won't be handling the case themselves. The township and school district have retained a Pittsburgh firm, Hollinshead, Mendelson, Bresnahan and Nixon. Clearfield County assessed the prison at about $2.5 million, and its market value is listed about $10 million. From the time Decatur Township and Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District received their first tax payments from the facilities, officials from both entities voiced displeasure, saying the revenue wasn't what they expected. The facility cost $74 million to construct. In correspondence dating back to the late 1990s, the prison had promised almost $1 million annually in combined tax revenues and payments. The township and school district haven't seen a third of that since the prison opened a year ago, and they won't, based on the current full assessment. But Cornell, which was embroiled in a legal battle over whether state law allows private prisons, has said the scope of the project changed significantly, resulting in a much smaller facility with less business than was first proposed seven years ago. At the onset of the hearing Monday, the county assessment appeals board asked to see an appraisal of the prison. Attorney William P. Bresnahan, of the Pittsburgh firm, was unable to provide one because an appraiser had only been retained 10 days ago. He asked the board for more time. "We thought it would be much more helpful if we went through this proceeding with the real estate appraiser to give you his insight," he told the board. In an interview afterward, Bresnahan explained that finding someone certified in Pennsylvania who could appraise the prison was a difficult task. But Paul Griffith, of Integra Realty Resources, was retained, he said. Thompson asked the board not to allow the hearing to continue. The matter will go to court, he said, and he would like to see it "resolved sooner rather than later." He also questioned whether the board had the authority to issue a continuance for the hearing. The board decided to talk with its solicitor and make a decision sometime this week.

February 8, 2007 Altoona Mirror
An inmate at the recently opened private prison in Clearfield County wants more diversity in its population. Rudolph P. Keszthelyi, serving a 10-year federal sentence, said the prison, Moshannon Valley Corrections Center, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons have limited the population to illegal immigrants who have committed crimes and to inmates from Washington, D.C., who are almost all black. Keszthelyi says it’s a violation of the 14th Amendment to segregate inmates. Keszthelyi said in its first five months, the facility experienced two food strikes and “numerous violent assaults between prisoners of different ethnic origins.” He was one of two Moshannon Valley inmates whose lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court clerk’s office in Johnstown this week. The second inmate, Ervin Leka, serving 18 months for conspiracy to possess marijuana, complained that the prison is stamping mail that inmates send to their families outside the U.S. with large red letters, stating “Inmate Mail.” “My family is in a small village and now is ostracized because somebody saw the envelope with ‘Inmate Mail’ stamped on it,” Leka stated in a complaint to prison authorities.

February 7, 2007 WJAC TV
Security has been heightened and the Moshannon Valley Corrections Center remains on lockdown, after a Tuesday lunch-hour inmate fight. According to officials, at least one person was hurt and additional personnel had to be called in to help clear the scene. Prison administrators said things got out of hand when two groups of inmates began arguing about a basketball game. One inmate suffered a head injury and a medical helicopter was called to the scene. Ambulance and other emergency crews were called in, but were held at the prison perimeter until the scene was secured. There is no word yet on other possible injuries.

January 15, 2007 Centre Daily Times
The Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility, a $74 million private prison expected to provide an economic boom to Clearfield County, will not generate the amount of tax revenues it promised local officials years ago. Cornell Companies Inc., a Texas-based firm that owns the facility and may soon merge with Veritas Capital in New York, says the 1,300-bed facility is markedly smaller than what was initially proposed. And that's why the prison's tax bill is several hundred thousand dollars less than local officials expected. "The scale of the project was cut fairly significantly," said Christine Parker, a Cornell spokeswoman. In correspondence dating back as early as 1999, Morris and Decatur townships and the Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District were told that they would see almost $1 million annually in combined tax revenues and payments. The townships and district haven't seen a third of that since the prisoners arrived in spring 2006. And they won't ever see what they expected, now that the facility has been fully assessed. "I truly hope that this is a mistake and not some sort of favoritism," said Andrew Rebar, supervisors chairman of Decatur Township, where the facility is located. "I won't be able to live with that." In a letter to the state attorney general in 2001, then- Superintendent Sam Peterson explained the grave situation facing the Philipsburg-Osceola school district and how he thought the private prison would help. At the time, concerns were raised about whether state law would allow a private prison to be built, and the project was in jeopardy. "I have seen our district student population drop by 1,000 since the late 1970s," Peterson wrote. "This is primarily due to the decline of the coal industry and the loss of a couple of significant employers." Based on company-driven estimates, the facility would bring $600,000 annually in property taxes to the school district, he said. "I have lived in this area for 26 years and can assure you that nothing of such magnitude has ever presented itself as a viable economic option to the area's residents," he wrote. The attorney general allowed the project to move ahead. But it wasn't the same project that was originally proposed. In the seven years that had passed in resolving legal issues, the federal Bureau of Prisons changed the scope of the project. The prison was supposed to comprise three buildings. Now it has only one. And Cornell, Parker said, "lost all of the business that would have come along from it." Private prisons sprung up elsewhere, and "the needs of the federal Bureau of Prisons changed," she said. So did the expected tax revenue. Last week, Philipsburg-Osceola Area school officials said they did not receive any tax payments from the prison. After digging further through their records, they realized that they did receive about $51,000, which was based on a partial assessment of the facility. Now the facility has been fully assessed at $2.5 million. And, at most, the district will receive $232,730 annually from it in tax payments. "I would love to have it much higher, but I am very restricted by what I can do," said Mary Ann Wesdock, director of the Clearfield County Assessment Office. "I have to work within the structure that we have with regard to our base year and the values that we are permitted to use." Clearfield County's last reassessment was in 1989. Rebar said he was sick to his stomach when he realized that the township would receive only about $15,000 annually in tax revenues. "It is a drop in the bucket," said Rebar, who expected about $60,000. "That is our philosophy here." Morris Township, where the prison's water tower sits, is also not satisfied. Cornell's chief operating officer, in a 1999 letter to the township, said its general contractor would make a "one-time only investment in Morris Township of $250,000 upon the township's endorsement of this facility." The letter also indicated that the township would get an annual $191,734 payment in lieu of property taxes. Troy Hill Road, near the prison, also was supposed to be paved by Cornell, the letter indicated. Township Solicitor F. Cortez Bell III said the township hasn't received anything. Although a prison building was not constructed in Morris Township as planned, "there is a water tower." "The supervisors have authorized me to take whatever action is necessary," said Bell, who also is a Clearfield County assistant district attorney. "We have even talked about eminent domain proceedings." Morris Township would have received payments, Parker said, if the prison was constructed as originally planned.

January 10, 2007 Centre Daily Times
Uncertain of what its financial situation is, the Philipsburg-Osceola Area school board is trying to decide which way to throw the dice as it develops next year's budget. And the one revenue source the board hoped to get tax dollars from this year -- the newly constructed private prison -- appears to have slipped between the cracks. The district has not received a single tax payment from the prison so far, school officials said Tuesday. The crux of the dilemma facing Philipsburg-Osceola is that the board must have a preliminary budget drafted by Jan. 25. But school officials, who just stepped into their positions a few months ago, say they have no clue what all of their expenses are and don't want to rely on the figures contained in the previous deficit-laden budget. The board could wait until the end of the year to draft a complete budget, but then it must vow not to raise taxes above the state-mandated limit of 4.9 percent. If the district needed additional revenue, it would have to cut staff and programs in order to pay for its expenses. "I don't want to do that," said Cathy Hayes, a board member. On the other hand, if the board decided to increase taxes more than 4.9 percent, its budget would need voter approval by referendum. Several school officials doubted that they could win the taxpayers' support. Nor are they sure the community could handle any more tax increases. Last year, the board increased taxes 27 percent in Clearfield County and 5 percent in Centre County. "I could not, in my best judgment, ask to go over 4.9 percent. It would just be devastating," said Mike Conte, the school district's director of finance. "Whatever we have to do, we have to keep within that range." The budget constraints, including the tax-increase limit and early budget schedule, are all the result of the state's latest property tax law, Act 1. The legislation mandated a series of new budget changes for almost all school districts across the state. The board was at odds over what to do by the end of its meeting Tuesday night. It is expected to decide at its next meeting on Tuesday. Board member Thad Ritter appeared to be supportive of drafting a preliminary budget by next week. He said if the district had to raise taxes above 4.9 percent, it would have to sell its case to the taxpayers and explain what programs would be cut without the additional revenue. "I think we need to submit the preliminary budget just in case we need the referendum," he said. The board was hoping to receive some tax revenues from the Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility. Earlier reports show that the district expected at least a couple hundred thousand annually. The prison is up and running, and Conte said the district has not received any payments to date.

March 25, 2003
Ending a four-year standoff, a Texas corrections firm has won the go-ahead to build Pennsylvania's first privately owned prison, officials said Tuesday.  The 1,000-bed prison for federal inmates, which will be built by next year on reclaimed strip mines in Clearfield County, Pa., will be maintained and operated by Houston-based Cornell Companies, Inc. Cornell owns eight other prisons nationwide.  The company was stalled in Pennsylvania since 1999 because state law does not allow private firms to house federal prisoners. But a rare agreement, finalized this week, will let Cornell guards use deadly force to control prisoners - with authority delegated by the federal Bureau of Prisons.  No other prison in the state will be allowed to be owned by a private company.  (AP)

March 23, 2002
For more than two years, Pennsylvania's Attorney General Mike Fisher has stood by his objections to Cornell Corrections' plans to build a private prison in Clearfield County, saying that state law did not allow a corporation to be a jailer.  In an exclusive interview with the Progress, Mr. Fisher said his office has formulated a plan that might "satisfy everyone concerned."  "What we're trying to do is federalize the prison," Rep. Lynn Herman said yesterday, "it will then be legal."  Cornell, which would be the contracted operator of the facility, would also own the property and the structure, allowing the local tax-base to benefit.  Not everyone sees the proposal as good news, however.  "It was Mr. Fisher who said that private companies cannot own and operate prisons without the General Assembly's authorization," said state Rep. Camile "Bud" George, D-74 of Houtzdale, in a statement this week.  "I can assure you that authorization has not been given."  He called the proposal a "deal kept secret from the media, the citizens of Clearfield County and legislators of all stripes," and said the issues has become "a political animal rather than a question of what is right for the people..."  (Clearfield Progress) 

The federal government yesterday lifted a moratorium that helped put a two-year freeze on what would be Pennsylvania's only privately owned prison.  That left developers suggesting that the Clearfield County project could go to construction by spring.  But they still face stiff opposition from Gov. Tom Ridge and state Attorney General Mike Fisher.  "Our position has remained unchanged, that state law as currently written doesn't allow incarceration of inmates by private entities," Fisher spokesman Sean Connolly said yesterday.  The federal government froze work in June 1999, when a locally based group, the Citizens Advisory Committee on Private Prisons, filed a complaint charging that bureau hadn't done environmental homework on the project.  Wednesday, federal Judge D. Brooks Smith in Johnstown ruled that all was well -- a decision that opponents are deciding whether to appeal.  (Post Gazette)

March 23, 2002
For more than two years, Pennsylvania's Attorney General Mike Fisher has stood by his objections to Cornell Corrections' plans to build a private prison in Clearfield County, saying that state law did not allow a corporation to be a jailer.  In an exclusive interview with the Progress, Mr. Fisher said his office has formulated a plan that might "satisfy everyone concerned."  "What we're trying to do is federalize the prison," Rep. Lynn Herman said yesterday, "it will then be legal."  Cornell, which would be the contracted operator of the facility, would also own the property and the structure, allowing the local tax-base to benefit.  Not everyone sees the proposal as good news, however.  "It was Mr. Fisher who said that private companies cannot own and operate prisons without the General Assembly's authorization," said state Rep. Camile "Bud" George, D-74 of Houtzdale, in a statement this week.  "I can assure you that authorization has not been given."  He called the proposal a "deal kept secret from the media, the citizens of Clearfield County and legislators of all stripes," and said the issues has become "a political animal rather than a question of what is right for the people..."  (Clearfield Progress) 

The federal government yesterday lifted a moratorium that helped put a two-year freeze on what would be Pennsylvania's only privately owned prison.  That left developers suggesting that the Clearfield County project could go to construction by spring.  But they still face stiff opposition from Gov. Tom Ridge and state Attorney General Mike Fisher.  "Our position has remained unchanged, that state law as currently written doesn't allow incarceration of inmates by private entities," Fisher spokesman Sean Connolly said yesterday.  The federal government froze work in June 1999, when a locally based group, the Citizens Advisory Committee on Private Prisons, filed a complaint charging that bureau hadn't done environmental homework on the project.  Wednesday, federal Judge D. Brooks Smith in Johnstown ruled that all was well -- a decision that opponents are deciding whether to appeal.  (Post Gazette)

New Morgan Academy, Morgantown, Pennsylvania
June 15, 2010 Reading Eagle
The weekend melee at Abraxas Academy in which five residents attacked eight counselors was the first major incident at the treatment center for juvenile offenders in New Morgan since it reopened in October 2006, police said Monday. Caernarvon Township Police Chief Paul R. Stolz Jr. said the melee Sunday also was the first in which officers had to remove juveniles from the facility since his department took over coverage of the borough from state police on April 1. Information on calls before April 1 was not immediately available from state police. But Stolz said state police had told him they had not had a lot of calls to the facility, which originally opened in 2000. In Sunday's melee, five juveniles from Philadelphia were charged with assaulting counselors. An 18-year-old was taken to county prison. The other four are in the county youth center. Some counselors had broken bones and other injuries, but none of the injuries was life-threatening, police said. Stolz said his department also handled two assaults at Abraxas in April. In one, a resident was charged with assaulting a staff member. In the other, a juvenile was charged with assaulting another juvenile. Both of those accused remained at the academy while their cases were handled in juvenile court, he said. The only other call was last week when police helped an ambulance crew remove a juvenile who was having mental health problems, Stolz said.

July 14, 2009 Reading Eagle
The state Department of Public Welfare has suspended admissions to Abraxas Academy in New Morgan while it investigates why the boys detention center failed to report suspected abuse in a timely manner. This marks the third time in 2009 that the state has temporarily closed admissions to Abraxas, welfare department spokeswoman Stacey L. Witalec said Monday. Witalec refused to give specifics about the most recent abuse allegation, citing confidentiality requirements. "We continue to have concerns about the facility to maintain health and safety for the kids," Witalec said. "If they continue to correct deficiencies, then it's planned for admissions to reopen in two weeks." The juvenile detention center off Interstate 176 is licensed to take as many as 82 boys ages 12 to 18 years old. The boys have committed offenses that require a secure lockup, such as aggravated assault or armed robbery. They usually are not first-time offenders. Admissions to the academy were closed Feb. 4 to Feb. 25 because the state was concerned about a lack of supervision at the facility, Witalec said. They were suspended again April 27 to June 15 over the untimely reporting of suspected abuse. Jon Swatsburg, senior vice president at Abraxas Youth and Family Services, said the April suspension and the most recent one, July 7, stemmed from the same incident. He said a teenage boy had broken off a wooden bed slat and was prepared to use it as a weapon against a staff member. While the boy was being restrained, he received a minor injury to his eye, Swatsburg said. The boy was immediately treated by a nurse, and while the incident went into the boy's medical file, it wasn't included in a report to the state, Swatsburg said. Swatsburg called it a communications gap and said he understands why the welfare department was concerned. Abraxas, a division of Cornell Cos. of Houston, initially opened in New Morgan in 2000 but relinquished its license two years later after six escapes and several reports of sexual assaults, most involving employees abusing clients, according to the state. The facility reopened in 2006 with new management and staff. "We did a poor job in the initial operations of the facility," Swatsburg said Monday. "All eyes are going to be on us, and it's going to take a long time for that to go away." Witalec said the state has substantiated five cases of abuse at the facility since it reopened. The state has stepped up regular and unannounced visits to the center, she added.

November 17, 2006 Reading Eagle
Lawyers for New Morgan borough on Friday asked a federal judge in Reading to dismiss a suit filed by the owner of New Morgan Academy juvenile treatment center, claiming the academy is trying to sidestep local zoning ordinances and state courts. Cornell Cos. Inc., Houston, has sued the borough and its council members, claiming they violated Cornell's constitutional rights by interfering with its plans to reopen the academy. The original facility had closed in October 2002, two years after opening, after a series of escapes and sexual assaults. In July, the borough adopted a zoning amendment forbidding the operation of a detention facility. The borough then sent letters to the state departments of welfare and education alerting them that Cornell intended to operate what the borough called a detention center. At the time, Cornell was seeking a state license to reopen. It subsequently got the license and reopened with 16 beds in October. It is treating two, low-level sex offenders from Philadelphia. But borough attorney Mark Himsworth told U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel, who was presiding in The Madison, that Cornell had never sought an occupancy permit or zoning approval from the borough, and needs to do that first. If occupancy was denied, he said, the legitimate process would be to challenge the denial to borough council and possibly in state court before considering a federal suit. And Thomas P. Hogan, attorney for the council members, said Cornell had not met federal law by not specifying what the individuals had done, and that they were given immunity from lawsuits by three separate state laws. Council members named in the suit are Dena L. Geunes, Tressie Marroon, Richard Venezia and Robert G. Williams. Borough Manager Carolyn Williams is also named. Cornell attorney Antoinette R. Stone told Stengel that Cornell knew it would be denied zoning and occupancy because of what she called the borough's long history of unlawful conduct against Cornell. She said the law doesn't require an effort in futility. Stengel indicated he would rule in early December, but briefly sparred with Stone over what the academy really is. “It's a juvenile prison, isn't it?” Stengel asked, noting that for years as a Lancaster County judge he had sent juvenile offenders to such facilities. Stone said it wasn't, but it was a secure boarding school operating exactly the same as the previous facility. Stengel asked whether it has locks. Stone said it does, but said that under state definitions it's not a detention center. She said Cornell has never had or sought a license for a detention facility in New Morgan and has never operated one.

November 17, 2006 Reading Eagle
The Texas-based owner of a New Morgan treatment facility for juvenile offenders has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the borough of interfering with the facility's plans to reopen. Cornell Cos. Inc., Houston, initially opened the 214-bed Cornell Abraxas Academy in October 2000, just north of the Conestoga landfill in New Morgan. The facility closed Oct. 27, 2002, following a half-dozen escapes and 14 sexual assaults. But it reopened last month, with 16 beds available to low-level sex offenders. So far, two sex offenders from Philadelphia are being housed for treatment, officials said. Antoinette R. Stone, a Philadelphia lawyer representing Cornell Cos., said the reopening would not affect the lawsuit. The suit requests a court order to allow the facility to remain open and the borough to pay unspecified damages. Lawyers representing the borough and its council members have asked that the case, before U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel, be dismissed. Stone charged in the suit that the borough interfered with Cornell's efforts to obtain a state license to reopen. “Instead of contacting Cornell to discuss concerns, the defendants continue their interference with Cornell's efforts to reopen,” Stone wrote. “The defendants' unlawful and unjustified actions constitute a gross and shocking abuse of government authority undertaken for the purpose of preventing Cornell from resuming operations at New Morgan as a lawful secure care facility for juvenile offenders.” In July, the borough amended its ordinance to forbid a secure detention facility from operating in New Morgan, according to Stone. Stone said in the suit that the academy is not a detention facility, but a school for juvenile offenders. Hogan said Cornell has not even applied to the borough for a use and occupancy permit as required by law. “Cornell has not even taken the first step, which is to address the zoning issues,” Hogan said.

November 9, 2006 Reading Eagle
The Cornell Abraxas Academy, a former juvenile-detention center in New Morgan that closed in October 2002, has reopened with two teenage sex offenders from Philadelphia County. “We're a secure boarding school for low-level offenders,” Gregory Swatsburg, assistant facility director, said Wednesday. Plans call for accepting one youth each week until all 16 beds for which the state currently licenses it are filled, he said. “These kids have crossed the line but they're not violent or hard-core sex offenders,” he said. The 14- to 18-year-olds are being enrolled in a treatment program that can last nine to 12 months, he said. The 214-bed facility just north of the Conestoga Landfill opened in October 2000 with an emphasis on treating and educating the state's worst juvenile offenders. The center shut down after a half-dozen escapes and 14 sexual assaults on inmates, most committed by staff members.

January 29, 2006 AP
A private-prison firm hopes to regain its license to run a detention center for serious juvenile offenders in Berks County. The state closed the New Morgan Academy in 2002, after just two years of operation, because of a series of escapes, sexual assaults on residents and other problems. The Cornell Companies, which calls itself the nation's third-largest private correctional firm, had said as late as December it wanted to reopen the campus as a boarding school for emotionally troubled youths. But the Houston-based company has since decided to apply to run a detention center for the most serious juvenile offenders from around the country. Some local officials are disturbed by the company's revised plan, which they said was announced without their input. "All they had been talking about for all these years seems to have taken a rather dramatic turn," said state Rep. Samuel E. Rohrer, a Robeson Township Republican.

November 10, 2005 Reading Eagle
A former juvenile-detention center in New Morgan that was closed in 2002 after escapes and abuse of inmates by staff is expected to reopen late next year as a school for emotionally troubled young people, officials said Wednesday. Cornell Cos. Inc., Houston, parent company of Cornell-Abraxis, which owns New Morgan Academy, plans to turn the facility into a day school and boarding school for emotionally troubled people up to age 21, Cornell officials said. Cornell would retain ownership of the 214-bed facility on 55 acres just north of the Conestoga Landfill, according to Chuck McLister, divisional director for Cornell. McLister said the firm is in negotiations with the state and hopes to have an operating permit in time to open in September. New Morgan Academy opened in October 2000 with an emphasis on treating and educating the state's worst juvenile offenders. Between July 2001 and April 2002, there were 14 substantiated sexual assaults on inmates, all but one or two committed by staff members, according to the state Department of Public Welfare. Two escapes also occurred at the facility, which was closed in October 2002 and put up for sale with a $25 million price tag. "At the end of the day we couldn't put a package together that met everyone's needs," said Paul B. Doucette, a Cornell spokesman. "It is a very expensive asset and it's just sitting there empty, and that is not a good thing for a business asset to do." Kathy Brill, whose Chestnut Hill Road home in Caernarvon Township is about a half-mile from the site, plans to reserve judgment until details are finalized. "If these are kids who are allowed to walk freely and go home when they want, then that is one story," Brill said. "If it is more of the same, then obviously we are going to be upset. "They have demonstrated they can't keep them in."

Berks and several other counties have interest in turning the vacant New Morgan Academy into a regional facility for prison inmates with special needs. Those prisoners could include women or perhaps inmates with mental problems. The center shut down in October following a series of sexual and physical assaults of juveniles. The site is owned by Cornell Abraxas, a subsidiary of Cornell Companies Inc., Houston. (Reading Eagle, March 7, 2003)

Cornell Companies Inc. (NYSE:CRN - News), which builds and operates prisons, said on Friday it was exploring all options for a youth center, which was closed last year. The closure of the facility, New Morgan Academy, will result in a 25-cent-per-share charge against the company's 2002 earnings, it said in a statement. (Yahoo Finance, January 24, 2003)

Two years ago, the privately owned New Morgan Academy, combining high security and intense therapy, opened its doors as Pennsylvania's newest alternative for handling delinquent teens with mental illness. But last week, the Berks County center shut down following the Conviction of two staff members on criminal charges and what one juvenile justice official called "an unheard of" number of physical and sexual assault allegations over the past two years. Sixteen cases involved sexual abuse, including the assault of a 15-year-old McKeesport girl in June by a staff member. In some cases, the assaults included sexual intercourse between an adult staff member and a teenage resident. New Morgan was run by Cornell Companies of Houston, which operates private prisons and other facilities around the nation. While declining to discuss specifics of individual cases, state officials said none of the 15 acts of physical abuse resulted in broken bones or a resident's hospitalization. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 3, 2002)

September 29, 2002
Two Western Pennsylvania girls, one from Murrysville and one from McKeesport, were sexually molested by staff members while living in group homes. And both say that earlier in their placements, they were physically hurt in altercations with staff. Such injuries in group homes are rare, according to the State Department of Public Welfare statistics Ronald Davidson, a clinical psychologist who has investigated 175 homes in a dozen states in the past eight years for Illinois, says the figure "doesn't pass the sniff test. That stinks. Right away my BS meter goes into the red zone. I would recommend that an outside organization take a very close look at the agency saying that." He concedes that children may exaggerate, but, just as often, he said, they don't report what has happened to them. The McKeesport girl who was sexually assaulted at New Morgan Academy said that was her experience. She said she saw staff members improperly touch several girls who didn't report it, and she knows of another girl who was molested and refused to tell. New Morgan officials said they investigated every allegation they received. The McKeesport girl said she doesn't know why some girls don't tell, but what happened to her when she told may be revealing. She says when she reported the physical assault to her probation officer, he didn't believe her story. She said the staff member told the probation officer a different story. "It was their word against ours, and other staff would back them up," she said. And when she reported the sexual assault, no one believed her initially either, and she was subjected to taunts from staff members and girls. New Morgan officials denied that staff mistreated the girl. In addition, the McKeesport girl's clinician at New Morgan ordered her to keep quiet about the sexual assault during a review of her case by an Allegheny County judge. The girl tried to tell the judge anyway, but the clinician cut her off. The girl said it wasn't as tough at other places where she'd stayed, such as Mars Home for Youth and Bethesda Children's Home in Meadville, but she said of New Morgan, "That program was dirty." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Five escaped youths from New Morgan Academy were captured Monday, and officials at the youth detention facility plan to keep the teens confined to their rooms until an investigation is completed. State police continued an investigation into the Sunday night escape of the five youths, who crawled through a large hole that had been cut in a chain-link fence. (AP, September 25, 2001)

A private company that operates prisons say it cannot find enough workers for its newest lockup in Morgantown, Berks County, a company official said. About 100 jobs remain unfilled at Cornell Corrections Inc.'s New Morgan Academy, a juvenile jail that opened Oct. 2. It has room for 214 youths. (February 15, 2001)

Parkview Community Center, Anchorage, Alaska
May 22, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
One of Anchorage's four halfway houses is scheduled to shut down by July 1, a loss of about 25 percent of the beds available here for housing low-risk inmates. The Legislature directed the Department of Corrections to close Parkview Community Center when it eliminated roughly $2.5 million from the department's halfway house funding. Parkview is managed by Cornell Companies of Alaska Inc. Its contract with the department for that facility expires July 1, said Portia Parker, corrections deputy commissioner. On the surface, the shutdown is puzzling: Aren't our jails and prisons overcrowded? And aren't some 800 Alaskans currently imprisoned Outside because there isn't room for them here? All that is true, Parker said. The Legislature increased the corrections budget by 11 percent overall to deal with prison crowding, and cuts somewhere else had to be made. Halfway houses are "the one area where ... we did have some room," Parker said. They aren't all always full, she said.

Pennsylvania Legislature
July 24, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
A deal brewing on Wall Street involving a $220 million-plus takeover of a company that runs private prisons could put House Speaker John M. Perzel in an ethical bind, experts say. Perzel (R., Phila.) is on the board of directors of Florida-based Geo Group Inc., the nation's second-largest private-prison company, which recently submitted a takeover bid for competitor Cornell Cos. Inc. Geo doesn't conduct any business with state government, though it does run the Delaware County prison. But Houston-based Cornell has at least $50 million worth of contracts with the state to run 17 juvenile detention centers across Pennsylvania. Experts on ethics and corporate governance said that although Perzel might not now have an ethical dilemma, that could change if the Cornell purchase is successful. As the ranking House member, Perzel holds major sway over public policy, and is a chief crafter of the state's $26 billion budget. As such, he has influence over state spending while also serving on a board in an industry whose bottom line depends on privatizing a governmental service: prisons. "It puts him on two sides of the transaction," said Charles Elson, director of the University of Delaware's Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. "If the acquisition goes through, he may want to rethink his board service. It would be problematic." Al Bowman, Perzel's spokesman, said the speaker did not know that Geo had bid for Cornell or that the Texas company had state business. Bowman said that it was premature to discuss the issue but that Perzel, in the event the bid is successful, would consult with lawyers to determine his options on the board. "Whatever the conflicts of interest may or may not be, they will be handled appropriately," Bowman said. In an interview in March, Perzel stressed that Geo didn't have any state business in Pennsylvania and that there was no current legislation before the House dealing with prison privatization. Even if there were, he said, he would not abstain from voting, unless the bill pertains specifically to Geo. "As a member of the board, I oversee the company. I don't write the contracts," he said. "... Why would it be wrong for me to vote to allow private prisons?" In June, Cornell announced that it was putting itself on the auction block, and within the last two weeks, Geo made a bid, a source familiar with the sale confirmed. Andy Merrill, a spokesman for Cornell, declined to comment about the Geo bid or Perzel's potential conflict, beyond what the company announced in June. Perzel, who was named to the board in January 2005, was paid about $99,000 that year in stipends, meeting fees and stock options. After learning of Perzel's role with Geo, Rep. Michael McGeehan (D., Phila.) introduced a bill to bar legislators from serving on corporate boards for pay - a prohibition similar to one for members of Congress. Pennsylvania's rules governing conflicts of interests are vague, leaving Perzel in the position to decide for himself what he should do, said Peggy Kerns, the director of the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures' Ethics Center. "He should look at Pennsylvania's law and decide what his own ethical standards are and then be prepared to justify his decision to the public," she said.

Regional Correctional Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
July 3, 2008 New York Times
The federal immigration agency should report all deaths in detention promptly, not only to the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, but also to state authorities where required by law, the inspector general has recommended after a “special review” of the deaths of two immigrant detainees. The detainees — a 60-year-old South Korean woman in Albuquerque and a 30-year-old Ecuadorean woman in St. Paul — were among dozens whose deaths in the custody of the agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have drawn scrutiny in the past year. Congress, advocates for immigrants and the news media have highlighted the lack of systematic accountability in such cases, and documented problems with the medical care provided in the detention system, a patchwork of county jails, privately run prisons and federal facilities. Both detainees died because of serious medical conditions that existed before they were detained. But the review found that the cases pointed to larger problems with oversight and medical care, including the failure to recognize or act on serious health care deficiencies in both detention centers that had been documented by routine inspections. The 55-page report, released Tuesday, did not name the two detainees, but one was Young Sook Kim, a cook who died of metastasized pancreatic cancer on Sept. 11, 2006, a day after she was taken to a hospital from the Regional Correctional Center in Albuquerque, a county prison operated by the Cornell Companies. A complaint to the inspector general’s hot line, testimony by a former employee, and an affidavit from a fellow detainee all contended that Ms. Kim had pleaded in vain for medical attention. The review found that it was already too late to save her life, and that Cornell clinical records showed the staff had responded to her written medical requests — albeit only by giving her antacid tablets when she complained of stomach pain. But the review confirmed complaints that Cornell was slow to deal with sick calls because of a nursing shortage: a government inspection in September 2006 found ailing detainees had to wait for as long as 30 days to see the medical staff. That inspection, by the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee, also found that only 11 of 20 detainees with chronic conditions were regularly scheduled for chronic care clinics, and that its policies did not fulfill requirements to notify the Homeland Security Department — the system’s parent agency — or the Justice Department of deaths. Ms. Kim’s death was not reported, as required, to state medical investigators. The immigration agency initially maintained that the county should have reported the death, but on Wednesday, a spokeswoman, Kelly Nantel, said that “as a result of the report,” the agency has directed that all deaths be reported to the appropriate state and federal authorities. The report also urged the immigration agency to pool information with the detention trustee. In September 2006, it noted, trustee inspectors gave the Albuquerque prison the lowest overall rating, “at risk” — two levels below acceptable. But because the two agencies do not routinely share information, the report said, Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed some 3,500 more detainees at the facility. Last August, the immigration agency removed all detainees after its inspectors found a host of other problems, including an inadequate suicide watch. The Minnesota case involved Maria Inamagua Merchan, a department store worker who was detained in the Ramsey County jail and died in April 2006. For more than a month, her persistent headaches had been treated only with Tylenol; when she fell from a bunk bed, several hours passed before she was taken to the hospital, where physicians diagnosed neurocysticercosis, an infection of the brain by larvae of the pork tapeworm. “We cannot determine with certainty whether this death could have been avoided had the detainee received immediate medical attention for head trauma,” the report said, after praising the authorities for promptly reporting the incident and for notifying the Consulate of Ecuador and the detainee’s spouse. But it recommended better medical screening and education about the parasite, which is endemic in parts of Latin America.

April 1, 2008 The New Mexican
More than eight months after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials removed 600 detainees from an Albuquerque jail, they say they won't house immigrants there again. The federal immigration agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, says it has enough space elsewhere for detainees arrested in the Santa Fe and Albuquerque areas. A majority of the immigrants who would have gone to the Regional Correctional Center in Albuquerque will be housed in El Paso, said Leticia Zamarripa, an ICE spokeswoman. The agency also can house detainees at other regional facilities if it needs to, including a to- be-opened immigrant processing center in Otero County. The move means family members of immigrants who are detained will have to travel farther to visit their relatives. "Certainly having them far away is going to be incredibly difficult for families," said Marcela Díaz, director of the Santa Fe immigrant- advocate group Somos Un Pueblo Unido. ICE was housing hundreds of detainees awaiting deportation at the RCC. That facility faced allegations by immigrant lawyers — and criticism by a federal judge — of subpar conditions. Complaints included sweltering heat inside, frozen food and poor medical attention. After the agency yanked all of its inmates last summer, an ICE official said he had "serious doubts" about the ability of Cornell Cos. Inc., which runs the jail, to provide a safe environment for detainees.

March 7, 2008 Market Watch
Cornell Companies, Inc. announced today that the Company has been informed that the federal agency which currently holds the contract in effect for use of the Regional Correctional Center (RCC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico intends to unilaterally reduce use of the facility. The modification is intended to continue use of RCC by the U.S. Marshals Service but eliminate any future use by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division. Cornell, which leases RCC from Bernalillo County, believes that the attempted unilateral reduction of guaranteed bed-days does not comply with the terms of the contract and will be exploring the legal and financial implications with that in mind in the coming days. Bernalillo County owns RCC and holds the contract directly with the Office of Federal Detention Trustee (OFDT). The unilateral notice indicated an intention to reduce the total guaranteed bed-days annually from 182,500 to 66,300 effective February 26, 2008. James E. Hyman, Cornell's Chairman, President and CEO said, "We are disappointed that ICE has decided not to use the RCC, as we have made an enormous effort over the past year to address all concerns that they, other customers, and other constituencies, brought to our attention. Should ICE decide in the future that their needs have changed, we would welcome them back. We remain committed to serving the needs of the U.S. Marshals Service and to providing space to other potential customers as they arise. We also are reviewing Cornell's and the county's legal rights under the contract." OFDT has stated that the Marshals Service will continue to use the facility at generally the current level, which since the third quarter of 2007 has fluctuated between 170 and 200 detainees. Cornell also continues to actively market the facility to other customers.

December 27, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
Calvin Morton started making changes in his new job as warden at the Regional Correctional Center right at the front door - literally. Since taking over as the head of the Downtown jail in early October, Morton has boosted security, starting with the lockup's entrance. All staff members and visitors now face increased scrutiny as they go through metal detectors, he said. "We've directed them to put all their items in a clear container if possible. If not in a clear container, we would be looking into their briefcases or whatever they are bringing in, lunchboxes or whatever the case might be to examine those and make sure there is no contraband in it," Morton said. The change is one of several that Morton, who has worked in corrections for more than three decades, is bringing to the jail at a key point in the facility's history. The jail at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest is looking to regain about 700 detainees of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency - clients it lost this summer. "We have a lot of empty beds here," Morton said. "We're looking at contracts we might be able to get into our facility to fill those beds." This summer, ICE pulled all of its detainees from the lockup. The agency has mostly been mum about why, but an internal review turned up problems including deficiencies in medical care, contraband in the jail and a lack of complete emergency plans. About 180 detainees of the U.S. Marshals Office remain at the jail, which can hold nearly 1,000 people. Between January and August of this year, inmates filed 218 complaints about conditions in the jail. As Cornell struggled to improve the facility, 19 employees were fired. And because it lost so many detainees, the Houston-based company laid off another 96 employees. Eighty-six staff-members remain.

November 1, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
Cornell Cos. Inc. is betting federal immigration detainees will return to the Regional Correctional Center, Bernalillo County's Downtown jail. So far, the bet is costing the company money. Because it has kept more employees than it needs for the 200 or so detainees left at the jail, Cornell's employee costs are higher than expected, and have forced the company to lower its projected fourth-quarter earnings. The company laid off about 100 employees in September after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency pulled 600 inmates from the lockup this summer. Cornell CEO and Chairman James Hyman in a written statement said fourth-quarter earnings are likely to slide 6 cents per share, to about 30 to 33 cents. Despite the projected decrease - also due in part to Cornell's slower than expected intake of new inmates at an Oklahoma prison it runs - the company chose to keep the extra staff in case ICE decides to move detainees back to the jail at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest. "There is more staff there than would be needed for 180 or so (U.S.) Marshals (Service) detainees who are there, so that if ICE chose to bring people back on short notice, we are prepared," Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel said. Seigel declined to talk about staffing levels, including how many people work there now. He also declined to say how many inmates the jail could take in before more employees would need to be hired. "Those are internal (numbers), and we prefer not to talk about that," he said. ICE officials have said the agency has no immediate plans to return to the facility, and the federal government is reviewing operations at the jail, which has come under scrutiny by inmates' attorneys for its physical conditions and health care. Meanwhile, Cornell has said it is looking for other customers for the 970-bed jail. An ICE spokeswoman didn't return a call seeking comment Wednesday. Apart from layoffs, the company has also fired employees. Documents obtained by The Tribune show 19 people were fired in the seven months before and after ICE's removal of detainees. During the same time period, inmates filed 218 grievances. The company had been predicting fourth-quarter earnings between 36 and 39 cents a diluted share. Hyman, in a news release Tuesday, said the company expects earnings to drop about 6 cents a share. The stock was trading at $24.80 a share Wednesday. The stock's two-week high was $27.76. However, the company is expecting revenues for the first quarter of 2008 to increase because of an agreement governing the Regional Correctional Center under which the federal government guarantees payment for 500 beds. Kevin Campbell, a senior analyst at Avondale Partners LLC in Nashville, Tenn., said the new earnings predictions are based on short-term situations, adding the earnings dip is likely only temporary. "Given the lack of supply of beds in the industry and strong demands from various federal agencies, it's likely Cornell will fill those beds with a customer," he said.

October 2, 2007 AP
Albuquerque authorities say a 40-year-old man in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service was found dead in his cell at the Regional Correctional Center. The inmate was found hanging by a noose made of bed sheets, less than 15 minutes after a routine check on him. That word from Charles Seigel, who is a spokesman for Cornell Companies Incorporated. Cornell runs the lockup in downtown Albuquerque. Seigel says the company is investigating. The inmate’s name was not immediately released. Cornell has been criticized about conditions at the jail. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this year pulled 600 detainees from the jail over safety and other concerns.

September 25, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
In the seven months surrounding the removal of almost 700 detainees from the Regional Correctional Center this summer, 19 jail employees were fired, inmates filed 218 grievances, and drugs and other contraband were routinely discovered. Documents obtained by The Tribune also show jail officials had reported five incidents they listed in a high-importance category - including the discovery of three bundles of marijuana on an inmate and a broom-handle assault by a detainee on a correctional officer. The documents may indicate why the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency removed all its detainees from the Downtown jail and has since said it won't be returning them in the foreseeable future. In several interviews during the past few months, officials with the federal agency have been nearly mum on what may be wrong at the jail, saying only that they pulled people from the facility after several "serious incidents." They also noted the jail was found to be deficient in two of its detention standards. A immigration agency spokeswoman didn't return a call seeking comment Monday. Representatives from Cornell Cos., which runs the lockup at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest, have said they've fixed the problems the agency had with the jail, but they still don't know why it left. "The reasons ICE left may or not be found in documents or specific numbers," Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel said. "It may simply be a feeling, which they have expressed." As for the five incidents marked in the high-importance category, Seigel said they weren't serious enough to reach the company's highest-importance level, but Cornell takes them seriously nonetheless. The jail, which has a capacity of close to 1,000, now holds fewer than 200 inmates in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Bernalillo County, which owns the building, had also been using the jail for inmates it couldn't fit at the Metropolitan Detention Center on the city's West Side but stopped that in late July. The reported incidents are common in most jails in the country, said Seigel. "Every facility in the country, whatever the detention level . . . has issues of unruly people who break the rules by trying to bring in contraband," he said.

September 13, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials pulled all their detainees from a privately run jail in Downtown Albuquerque because of critical concerns about management, a federal official says. A number of "serious events" in recent months raised concerns about the Regional Correctional Center run by Cornell Cos. Inc., said Gary Mead, assistant director for detention and removal operations for ICE in Washington. Mead declined to give specifics about the events, saying they are still under investigation. "We have serious doubts about their (Cornell's) ability to provide the safe and humane environment we want for our detainees. That's the reason we are not there," Mead said in an interview Wednesday. Until now, ICE had said little about its reasons for removing about 600 detainees from the jail in July. ICE previously had cited two detention standards it said the facility wasn't meeting, things Cornell said it had fixed. "While there were issues with the standards in terms of food service and clothing and temperature and things like that, our reasons for taking people out are really much more fundamental than that," Mead said. "We just have serious doubts about Cornell at the facility." Mead said he's met several times with Cornell officials since June 25, including a meeting at the jail at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest. Mead said the immigration agency had concerns about the jail before Chief U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez of Albuquerque sent a letter to Cornell's chief executive officer. Mead said Vazquez's letter in late June only intensified his agency's attention to complaints about conditions at the lockup. "The Cornell officials basically told us that many of the judge's concerns were unfounded, or were corrected or were in the process of being corrected," Mead said. "They told us not to worry; they were in full control of the facility." But, he said, "There have been a number of incidents at the facility that caused us to seriously question Cornell's ability to safely and humanely detain our (undocumented immigrants) there." In her letter, Vazquez said she was worried about medical care, physical conditions and nutrition at the lockup. She recounted stories inmates told her during visits this summer to the jail about missing property, and allegations of sexual misconduct and of inmates who were punished for speaking out. Federal authorities are also investigating the death of a Korean woman who died at an Albuquerque hospital while in the jail's custody last year. The woman's repeated requests for medical attention were ignored, according to lawyers familiar with the case. Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel said the company has worked to address the agency's concerns and would like to know what it can still do to appease the immigration agency. "We hear from them all the time about the past history they don't like," he said. "All we would like to hear is a specific list of things to do to make them happy, because all we hear about is past history. What we don't hear from that is what we need to do to resolve their concerns and make it a facility they can bring people back to." As for the serious incidents Mead mentioned, Seigel also refused to give details. "There are things that have happened in the past that we have addressed with ICE. We've been told everything is fine, and we've dealt with ICE," he said. Seigel said Cornell is more than willing to do what it takes to have ICE as a client again. At the same time, the company is looking for other inmates to fill the jail. "First of all, we know they are the customer, and what their perception is is what matters. There's no point in going back and forth about whether we agree with their concerns. If that's their perception, that's their perception and we'll address it." Before it removed all of its detainees, the immigration agency pulled about half in the hope that Cornell could do a better job with fewer people, Mead said. But that wasn't the case, he said, and the agency later removed everyone it had at the facility, a move Mead described as rare. "On rare occasions, we have left facilities in the past, but it's very rare for us to do it," he said. "This was serious enough in our mind that it warranted that." ICE, which has about 30,000 detainees at 300 to 350 facilities around the country, only rarely has pulled inmates, Mead said. Albuquerque is the only place ICE is contracting with Cornell, Seigel said. Although it doesn't have anyone at the Downtown jail, ICE still has a contract with Cornell and could, at a later date, decide to return detainees. "We haven't terminated our relations with them," Mead said. "We're still evaluating that situation; we just don't have a date for that at this point," Cornell has run the former Bernalillo County Detention Center since 2003. The facility is still owned by the county, which receives about $1.5 million a year in rent from Cornell. Without ICE as a tenant, Cornell earlier this week cut 82 of 185 employee positions at the jail. Fewer than 200 inmates remain at the jail, in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

September 10, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
After more than a month without its main client sending detainees to its jail in Downtown Albuquerque, Cornell Companies Inc. this morning cut 82 of 185 jobs at the jail. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which had housed about 600 people at the Regional Correctional Center, in late July yanked its inmates, saying the facility didn't meet two detention standards. Since then, the company has worked to address the concerns but has heard little on ICE's plans, said Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel. "They have not indicated whether or when or if they plan to be back," Seigel said this morning. The company is looking for other clients. An ICE spokeswoman this morning had no update on the agency's plans. The layoffs affected 82 of the 185 positions at the facility, and mostly included correctional officers. It was unclear how many people were laid off, as some positions were vacant, Seigel said. Bernalillo County Public Safety Director John Dantis said the county would work to recruit officers for its Metropolitan Detention Center. At the same time, the county is interested in possibly housing inmates again in the jail, which it owns and leases to Cornell. The Houston-based private prison company pays the county more than $1 million in rent each year.

August 30, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
For months, allegations of filthy conditions, subpar medical attention and bad food have hung over the Regional Correctional Center in Downtown Albuquerque. On the outside, little seemed to be changing as inmates and lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico repeatedly lodged complaints and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency pulled more than 600 detainees from the jail, run by Cornell Companies Inc. Bernalillo County also pulled its inmates from the facility. But key events - visits by Chief U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez and a letter from a Bernalillo County official warning Cornell that if the allegations were true and the company didn't try to correct them, the county could move to terminate its contract - appear to have sparked big changes. The two groups seem to have settled the differences, with the county in a subsequent letter saying it was satisfied with Cornell's actions and a company spokesman saying things have been worked out. Vazquez, in a letter to Cornell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Hyman, said that from one visit this summer to the next, she saw some big improvements. She outlined her concerns and her findings in documents obtained by The Tribune this week. "The detainees reported that they are now receiving toiletries as well as clean linens and towels and that they are consistently receiving an hour of recreation time each day," Vazquez wrote in a June 22 letter to Hyman. "The black mold was cleaned from the shower in the area where the (U.S. Marshals' Office) women are housed, and the air conditioning appeared to be working in the cell where it was so hot during my last visit." Still, Vazquez had other worries, including detainees who seemed afraid to speak with her a second time. "During my first visit, detainees eagerly approached me to discuss their concerns. I spent hours at the facility, took pages and pages of notes, and left with detainees still lined up to talk to me. The detainees' response to my follow-up visit was dramatically different. The detainees were subdued, some even visibly frightened to be seen speaking to me." Two detainees in the custody of the immigration agency later called Vazquez to say they had been punished for speaking with her, she wrote in the letter. In a written response to the judge, the jail's warden, Brick Tripp, said officials had investigated Vazquez's allegation but couldn't back it up. "Detainees have not been discouraged from or retaliated against for speaking the Chief Judge (sic)," he wrote. Although Vazquez was still troubled by the jail's medical care, its physical condition and behavior by correctional officers, some of her concerns seem to have been addressed after County Manager Thaddeus Lucero on July 30 wrote his warning letter to Cornell. In a letter back to Lucero on Aug. 23, Cornell's senior vice president for the Adult Secure Division, Michael Caltabiano, outlined changes the company has made and said there was no reason to terminate the agreement between the county and Cornell. Under the agreement, Cornell pays the county more than $1 million a year to rent the facility at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest. Under another agreement, federal detainees including from the U.S. Marshals' Office and the immigration agency are housed at the lockup. Currently, fewer than 200 Marshals' detainees remain. "While we acknowledge that there have been some difficulties to overcome relative to RCC operations, and while we appreciate that operational improvements can always be made at any facility, we respectfully maintain that no "event of default" exists under the Operating and Management Agreement," Caltabiano wrote. As part of its response, the Houston company cited changes including a correctional officer who was fired for "using his cell phone to take a profile photo of a female detainee fully clothed." Another officer was temporarily reassigned after he allegedly called an inmate a "black monkey." An investigation by the jail didn't substantiate the allegation, even though a witness independently backed up the assertion. After complaints of clothes not being adequately cleaned, the company also said it had adjusted its laundry services at the jail to wash smaller numbers of clothes at a time and provide inmates with an increased number of undergarments.

August 25, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
The operator of Albuquerque's Downtown jail says it could lay off up to 100 of its 185 employees if the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency doesn't return its detainees to the lockup. The federal agency earlier this month removed more than 600 detainees, saying the facility didn't meet two of its standards. With fewer than 200 inmates in the 970-inmate capacity jail, Cornell says it can't keep everyone employed at the jail at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest. "If we don't hear from them by Sept. 9, we're going to have to lay off a significant portion of our staff," Cornell Cos. Inc. spokesman Charles Seigel said. ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said the agency doesn't have a timeline for when it might send inmates back to the jail. Since the agency yanked its inmates, Cornell has worked to improve the jail, Seigel said. Its staff has recently undergone cultural training, needed because the company deals with immigrant detainees from around the world. The immigration agency wouldn't say what standards the jail didn't meet. But The Tribune has learned they dealt with concerns over tool control and adequate recreation for inmates. Seigel said the company has worked to address those issues.

August 11, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
The head of Cornell Companies Inc. says Bernalillo County's Downtown jail wasn't one of the company's "best" as it struggled with management turnover, failed to meet the needs of a federal immigration agency and earlier this month lost the agency as its main customer. Yet the jail was a moneymaker for the company - accounting for $1.7 million of the $2 million second-quarter revenue increase in the company's adult prisons division, another Cornell official said in a teleconference this week with analysts. Concerns about the facility were a top priority during the call. But before Cornell Chairman and CEO James Hyman talked about the revenues, he addressed issues at the lockup, saying they were "on everyone's minds," according to documents obtained by The Tribune. The Regional Correctional Center is mostly empty after Bernalillo County and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency removed more than 700 inmates in recent weeks. Fewer than 200 U.S. Marshals Service detainees remain. During the conference call, Hyman, who visited the center in June, talked about the facility owned by Bernalillo County and run by Cornell. Operating challenges at the jail have stemmed from its "population volatility," Hyman said, adding that the quality and stability of operations at the RCC have improved since 2006. "However," Hyman said, "if we had operated RCC as we do our best facilities, no one would have had any basis for criticism. But we didn't." Over the past nine months, Cornell has revamped the center's leadership, improved staff training and pay rates, and improved operating procedures, he said. In an interview Friday, Hyman said the RCC "clearly has not had the stability of operations that what I would say our better facilities do. In part, your best facilities tend to have very constant, long-term leadership teams, and they can drive the application process and training with the staff." At least four wardens have run the jail since Cornell took control of the lockup at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest in 2004. During the conference call, analysts repeatedly asked questions about the RCC - one of 79 jails Cornell operates in 16 states. In New Mexico, Cornell also manages the Lincoln County Detention Center. In particular, analysts wanted to know what the company is predicting will happen with so few inmates in the Downtown jail, which is designed for 970 inmates. Hyman said the company is "not forecasting when any increase (in jail population) will occur." But Cornell is "actively marketing the vacated beds to other customers in the event that ICE decides not to use the beds we provide," he said. The recent decline in jail population has forced the company to lower its earnings projections for the second half of 2007, he said. Revenues for the adult secure institutional services division - one of three divisions in the company - were $47.8 million in the second quarter. ICE officials have said they won't know when or if they will return prisoners to the RCC until they complete a review of the facility. Spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said Friday it's unclear when the review will be done. During the last review of the jail done by ICE, the immigration agency found that the building didn't meet two of its 38 standards, although agency officials wouldn't say which standards were unmet. In the teleconference, Hyman said the two were in "recreation" and "tool control," but said ICE didn't provide him much detail on those or other reasons the agency pulled out its detainees. "There is no one that has said `This is the reason why' " ICE transferred its prisoners to other facilities, he said. "The problem I've got is (that) I've dissatisfied the customer to the point where they have taken a pretty extreme action. The task we have is to try and address their concerns," Hyman told the analysts. The jail is under scrutiny from federal officials after a Korean immigrant last year died in an Albuquerque hospital while in RCC custody. The lockup also is in the cross hairs of New Mexico inmates' attorneys who are seeking more access to the jail as part of a 12-year-old lawsuit about crowding and health care conditions for Bernalillo County inmates. The attorneys' request for greater access is pending before a federal judge. Both the county and ICE have denied that they transferred inmates out of the RCC because they feared becoming snared in the lawsuit. In a filing in that lawsuit this week, a county attorney wrote that having the lawsuit apply to the Regional Correctional Center would mean that other jails where the county houses inmates when the Metropolitan Detention Center is full would be reluctant to take in their overflow inmates. A county attorney also said "no one should be surprised" if the U.S. Marshals Service pulled out of the RCC, leaving an empty building and no money to pay the rent. The Marshals Service, however, hasn't indicated it will leave the jail, located close to courthouses in the city's center. Cornell pays the county $1.2 million a year to lease the building. The county uses the money to pay the bonds on the Health Services Unit at its Metropolitan Detention Center. The contract between Cornell and ICE is still in place; canceling it would require 180 days of notice, Hyman said in the teleconference. During an interview with The Tribune, Hyman also said Cornell laid off 10 jail employees after ICE removed its inmates. The company "clearly will face another decision at some point" about other staff cutbacks, he said.

August 2, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to pull all of its inmates out of the Regional Correctional Center, a spokesman for the company that runs the Downtown jail said on Aug. 2. "They have told us they are going to take out everybody for some time, at least," said Charles Seigel, a consultant for Cornell Cos. An ICE spokeswoman didn't return calls seeking comment on Aug. 2. Seigel referred questions on how many inmates were being moved and where to ICE. Seigel said ICE still has a contract with Cornell at the jail, owned by Bernalillo County. The jail in the past has housed about 700 ICE detainees, plus about 200 people in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and a handful of Bernalillo County inmates. The county removed its inmates from the jail in June, and ICE on JUly 27 pulled half its inmates, including all the women and non-criminal immigrants in custody. At the time, ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said the agency wanted to better use its jail space and was only leaving male criminal immigrants.

July 28, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has yanked hundreds of its inmates from the Regional Correctional Center in Downtown Albuquerque, reducing the jail's population by about a third. The move, which removed all the female inmates and inmates held on non-criminal immigration violations from the jail, is a first since Cornell Corrections Inc. took over the jail about three years ago. The move comes as attorneys in a 12-year-old lawsuit — known as the McClendon case — about jail crowding seek access to the building to monitor living conditions at the facility. ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said the lawsuit didn't play a role in the decision to move "at least half" of the ICE inmates. "In an effort to manage ICE's use of bed space, ICE has determined that the agency is only going to use the RCC for male criminal aliens," Zamarripa said. She did not have the exact number of inmates transferred from the jail and moved to other facilities in New Mexico and Texas. The agency in the past has housed about 700 people in the jail and the population frequently fluctuates as immigrants are brought to the RCC and then deported. The move by ICE comes about a month after Bernalillo County removed its inmates from the Regional Correctional Center. The county removed their inmates about one week after a filing in the McClendon lawsuit by inmate attorneys wanting access to the RCC facility. The county contends the lawsuit had nothing to do with the move. "Bernalillo County removed its inmates from the RCC because intermittently we will place overflow inmates there as needed," said county public safety director John Dantis. "At the time, we could manage this group within our facility." It's unclear how many people remain at the jail. A consultant for the company, Charles Seigel, declined to release the current population, but said it's not over capacity. The building is rated to hold 970 people. "On a regular basis, it's more appropriate for the agencies to say how many are in there," he said. The county, ICE and the U.S. Marshals Service house detainees in the facility. The U.S. Marshals Service has just fewer than 200 people in the facility, said Deputy Chief Marshal Carl Caulk. Marc Lowry, an attorney for inmates in the McClendon case, said he was at the jail to visit a client this week and saw 22 people in a receiving and discharge unit marked with an 11-person population sign. "They all had to eat lunch standing up and holding trays," he said. "I don't know why they have to stuff people in there like sardines." The lawsuit filed in 1995 focused on crowding and living conditions including medical care at the jail, which was then the county's main detention facility. Things haven't improved at the Downtown jail since the county built a new jail on the far West Mesa, Lowry said.

July 14, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
A week after lawyers in a jail-crowding lawsuit asked to visit Bernalillo County inmates housed at a privately run Downtown jail, the inmates were ordered out. Lawyers for plaintiffs in the so-called McClendon lawsuit, originally filed against the county in the mid-1990s, asked a federal judge on June 28 to extend McClendon's oversight to the Downtown jail, now known as the Regional Correctional Center. The McClendon lawsuit led to harsh scrutiny and a federally imposed cap on the inmate population at the Downtown jail when it was run by the county prior to 2002. The county, which now houses most of its inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center on the West Side, leases the Downtown facility to Cornell Companies Inc. RCC primarily holds deportees and other federal inmates, though a small number of overflow county inmates have also been held there. As of last month, the county had 43 inmates at RCC. Lawyers had sought to use those inmates to gain greater access to RCC, arguing that the renovated jail remains overcrowded and plagued by problems. But a week after the June 28 motion was filed, no county inmates remained to be visited. "Brick Tripp, the RCC warden, telephoned MDC Director Ronald Torres and told him to remove MDC inmates from RCC," according to documents filed by the county in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on Tuesday. All county inmates had been removed from the jail by July 6, the documents say. Cornell representatives did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon. John Dantis, deputy county manager for public safety, said he didn't see the order to remove the county's inmates as an effort to insulate RCC from McClendon. "They've asked us to remove our inmates before," he said. "They have contracts to hold federal inmates that pay more than we do." RCC has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. Federal authorities are investigating the death of a Korean woman held at the facility last year.

July 10, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
A former detainee at the Regional Correctional Center is suing the private company that runs the Downtown Albuquerque lockup, saying he didn't get adequate medical care after he fractured his jaw playing handball. According to his lawsuit, Robert Delayo hurt himself Jan. 1, 2006, and was taken to the Albuquerque Regional Medical Center, where he received X-rays that showed a fracture. A physician told him he should follow up with an oral surgeon within two or three days. It wasn't until Jan. 27 that Delayo saw an oral surgeon, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque alleges Cornell Companies Inc., a former warden, and the head of the jail's Health Services Center knew about Delayo's condition but "made no effort to obtain adequate and timely medical treatment for Mr. Delayo." The lawsuit also names Bernalillo County, which owns the jail and leases it to Cornell. Public Safety Director John Dantis said it's up to Cornell to handle the claim. "The county's response is that it's a Cornell issue. They are the operators," he said. Charles Seigel, a consultant for Cornell, said the company can't comment on the case, but defended the jail's health care. "We do provide an excellent health program, available to detainees in the facility," he said. One of Delayo's lawyers, Frances Crockett, said she has also heard other concerns about medical treatment at the lockup. "It seems to be an epidemic that's going on around the country, and in part with the RCC, of prisoners not receiving adequate medical care," she said. Delayo's lawsuit says he suffered and continues to suffer extreme physical and mental pain from the injury. It also asks for monetary damages in an amount to be determined at trial, as well as lawyer's fees. Crockett did not provide details of what led to Delayo's incarceration. Federal court records show Robert Delayo, 43, was indicted in connection with a Jan. 25, 2005, bank robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank at 1800 Eubank Blvd. N.E. He later pleaded guilty to federal charges of use of a firearm during a crime and aiding and abetting. Other attorneys, including some from the American Civil Liberties Union, have collected complaints from detainees about crowding, poor medical care and unsanitary conditions inside the jail. Bernalillo County, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement all have contracts to house detainees inside the facility at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest in Downtown. Cornell officials gave a tour of the jail earlier this month to two reporters, and defended the medical care, calling it "superb." The Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General also has its eye on the jail after a detainee of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in September died at an Albuquerque hospital while in the custody of the RCC. The ACLU has asked the federal government for more information about immigrant detainees who have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The group says 62 have died since 2004 and has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking details.

July 4, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
The squat, bald detainee wanted to know who was in charge. Warden Brick Tripp stepped forward to address the detainee's complaint on July 3 about excessive heat in a section of the Regional Correctional Center in Downtown Albuquerque. As staffers worked to keep the building cool in triple-digit temperatures outside, the company that runs the lockup, Cornell Companies Inc., wanted to turn down the heat on a rash of complaints about the jail. Civil and labor-rights attorneys in recent weeks have reported complaints from inmates about poor medical and mental health care, as well as crowded, dirty and uncomfortable conditions. The charges stemmed from investigations that began after an immigrant in custody of the RCC died in September. To respond to the allegations, the jail's warden and other Cornell officials on July 3 talked with reporters and gave a tour of the jail. "We get concerned when we get complaints from anybody, but we believe we provide a safe and secure place for ICE and U.S. Marshals detainees," said George Killinger, managing director of operations for Cornell's adult secure institutions. Overall, officials said they look into the complaints and provide excellent medical care at the facility, which Cornell has operated since 2004. The building formerly was the Bernalillo County Detention Center. It was vacated in December 2002 after the Metropolitan Detention Center was completed on the West Side. Cornell officials said medical personnel make five trips a day to the inmates' living areas. Detainees get medical exams after they arrive, and the facility has passed inspections by the Public Health Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The center has mental health professionals and a chaplain on duty, officials said. They also pointed out $7 million in improvements to the jail paid for by the giant private prisons company in Houston. "We feel we provide superb medical access," Tripp said. The building is owned by Bernalillo County and leased to Cornell for $1.5 million a year. It houses federal inmates for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service, as well as some county prisoners. Most of the inmates are ICE detainees, waiting to be deported. Of the 864 people held on July 3, 650 were immigrants. The building is rated to hold 970 prisoners, Killinger said. The tour came as the Department of Homeland Security reviews ICE's detention policies. That job includes determining "whether ICE has maintained adequate oversight of this (the RCC) and other detention facilities, and whether the agency's policies are sufficient to decrease the likelihood of detainee fatalities throughout the county," according to department spokeswoman Tamara Faulkner. The look isn't focused on individual cases, she said, but a broad review of ICE oversight on procedures for providing care and how deaths are reported. The review began after it was revealed a Korean woman died at an Albuquerque hospital Sept. 11 while in the custody of the RCC. The woman repeatedly sought medical attention, according to lawyers familiar with the case. ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said she couldn't comment on the death because it is an ongoing case, but said the agency "immediately reported the death through normal reporting procedures according to national detention standards." Cornell officials declined to comment on the case or to say how many people have died in the jail since they took charge of the RCC. That death and others in the country have the American Civil Liberties Union looking for more information. Last week, the group filed a public records request for details on what it says are the deaths of 62 immigrant detainees since 2004. "We are deeply concerned about this shockingly high number of in-custody deaths in immigration detention," Elizabeth Alexander, director of the group's Prison Project, said in a statement. "It raises serious concerns about about the quality of care provided to ICE detainees in their custody, and it is imperative that information about those deaths be revealed to the public."

June 29, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
For years, Bernalillo County's Downtown detention center was mired in a lawsuit that at times required a population cap imposed by a federal judge, visits by lawyers and lots of public scrutiny. Much of the focus on the jail at Fourth Street and Roma Avenue Northwest subsided in 2002 as the county packed up and moved into a $90 million slammer on the West Side. But the thorn in the county's side — the lawsuit known as McClendon, which continues to loom over the West Side facility — is making another appearance. On June 28, attorneys representing inmates in the McClendon lawsuit asked a federal judge to extend McClendon's oversight to the Downtown facility. "The (Regional Correctional Center) is as crowded or more crowded now than when it was the (Bernalillo County Detention Center) under the court order," said inmates attorney Brian Pori. "The judge ought to reinstate the cap at RCC because the same conditions that existed are still there." Pori is one of the lawyers who sued the county in 1995 over crowded conditions, among other alleged problems at the jail. The lawsuit still governs some of what happens at the county lockup, even though it's in a different building with a different name, the Metropolitan Detention Center. Pori wants the lawsuit extended to cover the Downtown jail now run by Cornell Companies Inc. Cornell leases the building from the county for $1.5 million a year. The county, the U.S. Marshals Office and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement house detainees inside the building. About 700 of the residents are immigrants, waiting to be returned to their countries of origin. Representatives for Cornell and ICE didn't return calls seeking comment on June 28. Pori filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on June 28 arguing that lawyers should be able to inspect the RCC because the building is owned by the county and because county inmates are housed there. On June 28, the county had 43 inmates at the Downtown jail because there wasn't room for them at the West Side detention center. Jeff Baker, attorney for Bernalillo County in the McClendon lawsuit, said the county hasn't yet decided what it will do with the motion. "The county is discussing the issue with Cornell. Under court rules, our formal response is due in 14 days, but we may be able to respond to it earlier than that," he said. His team must consider a multitude of legal ramifications involved in the issues, Baker said, but he declined to go into specifics. The McClendon name became synonymous with crowding in the late 1990s as the city and county struggled with where to house inmates. The MDC opened in December 2002, behind schedule and over budget, but from the start has been operating near or above capacity. Bernalillo County Public Safety Director John Dantis said he doesn't think the McClendon suit should apply to the RCC. And, he said, the county is still working to wrestle free from McClendon's grasp. "McClendon never left us. McClendon has been with us since we've taken over," he said. "We are working hard every single day to ensure we are in compliance with those agreements and we're getting closer and closer. And the accreditation is another example of our efforts." The MDC on on June 28 received high marks on its first accreditation from the American Correctional Association, but was dinged in five areas, three related to crowding. Pori said the Metro Detention Center is still too crowded, adding that he plans to file a motion to hold the county in contempt of court within two weeks. "They've had two and a half years to bring down the population in the jail and not make it so overcrowded and understaffed," Pori said, but it consistently has had more inmates than its official capacity of 2,236. Baker said he expects any request to hold in the county in contempt to fall flat. "Under state law, the jail does not control its front door or back door. To impose fines on the jail for a situation beyond its control is unfair and unlikely to result in what all of us want, which is a jail which is not overcrowded." The news comes as other lawyers are taking aim at the conditions in the Downtown jail. Attorneys involved in an American Civil Liberties Union prison project say they've talked to inmates who say health care is inadequate and the jail is dirty and cold. Federal authorities also are looking into the death of a Korean immigrant who died at an Albuquerque medical facility while in the jail's custody last year. The woman repeatedly sought medical attention and her requests were ignored, according to the attorneys.

June 28, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
Bernalillo County's Downtown jail is under intense scrutiny from a variety of sources —including a federal judge — after the 2006 death of an inmate and complaints about crowding and other problems. Attorneys say they've received complaints about the conditions for inmates in the Regional Correctional Center, which is owned by the county and leased to a private company that oversees operations. The facility holds mostly federal inmates and detainees. This morning, inmates' attorneys in a 12-year-old lawsuit related to crowding at county jail facilities asked a federal judge to guarantee them access to the Downtown jail. U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez of Santa Fe has visited the lockup at least three times in recent months, officials said. The CEO of the company that runs the facility, Cornell Cos. Inc., was also in town last week to look at the jail. The visits come as immigrant rights and civil rights attorneys investigate complaints about conditions in the center, where 70 percent of the detainees are immigrants awaiting deportation. Others in the jail include suspects held by the U.S. Marshals Office and up to 175 detainees who can't get a bunk at the Metropolitan Detention Center because of crowding there. Santa Fe lawyer Brandt Milstein said he was among a group of lawyers who conducted about 30 inmate interviews at the center as part of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project. Those who've done time at the Regional Correctional Center had common stories of inadequate medical treatment during their stay, Milstein said. Many detainees said the jail is dirty, crowded and cold. Complaints include a woman who fell off her bunk and suffered deep facial cuts and an injured back and neck but didn't get the medical help she needed, and a woman who spent more than a month seeking treatment for swollen and bleeding gums and numbness in her face. Another inmate said he called four times seeking a psychiatrist for his anxiety. Others said they didn't have access to their medical records. One said she was given only Tylenol for her asthma. "Certainly the information could and should lead to a lawsuit at some point," said Milstein. "About everything that can go wrong did go wrong." The center has been run by Cornell Companies Inc. since Bernalillo County in 2004 vacated the building and moved to a new jail on the West Side. The company didn't return a call seeking comment on June 27 about the conditions. Company CEO James Hyman visited the jail last week, according to John Dantis, the county's director of public safety, though it was unclear whether the visit was related to complaints about jail conditions. Vazquez's trip to the Downtown jail was far from the first. Because of the crowding lawsuit in the mid-1990s known as the McClendon case, she repeatedly checked in on the center when it was run by the county. Vazquez did not return a request for an interview, but the state's top federal judge has visited the facility several times recently, Dantis said. "The judge wants to ensure Cornell is providing all the services required under the standards the (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has promulgated, things like medical, hygiene, recreation - all of those things," he said. Vazquez isn't alone. Lawyers in the McClendon case filed a motion this morning in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque asking that they be guaranteed access to the Downtown jail to check on conditions for inmates. The inmates' attorneys are allowed to regularly inspect conditions in the county's new West Side jail under a settlement of the case. In their motion, they argue that they should also be allowed to inspect the Downtown jail because it is owned by the county and because county inmates are regularly housed there. Inmates' attorney Brian Pori said crowding is a particular concern. For years, the county was forced to cap population at the Downtown jail at 586. Today — after renovations — the jail regularly holds more than 900, according to the motion filed on June 28. Dantis said the jail, rated to hold 993 people, isn't crowded, though its population fluctuates. "Have there been a couple of times they have exceeded the rated cap? There may have been, but I'm not aware of it being a problem and it was looked at carefully," he said. Dantis said no jail is perfect. "I don't know of any institution in the U.S. where there isn't going to be someone, either folks who are in there or lawyers, who aren't going to complain. What's important to me is when you raise those concerns, that they are investigated, that they are appropriately dealt with and we continue to move forward." Bernalillo County Commission Chairman Alan Armijo said he has not received specific complaints about the center, but wants more information about conditions there and about the death of a jail inmate last year. "I am concerned anytime anyone dies in a lockup or if they aren't getting medical attention," he said. Armijo said he's asked his staff to get more information on the situation. The New York Times reported on June 27 that Korean immigrant Young Sook Kim died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 11, 2006, in the Downtown lockup after pleading for medical help for weeks but not getting it. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General is under way, the Times said. Kim's death prompted Milstein to start his interviews about conditions at the jail. Some of the issues were brought to the county's attention this week when commissioners voted to approve what Dantis called technical changes to the operating agreement with Cornell. The commission approved the agreement 3-2 on June 27 after several rounds of review by the state Attorney General's Office. "We kept sending it back for two years, telling the county it wasn't OK" for legal reasons, Phil Sisneros, Attorney General's Office spokesman, said. Commissioners Michael Brasher and Deanna Archuleta voted against the agreement. Archuleta said she was troubled by "the fact that someone was held and not given access to proper health care." "Individuals, no matter what situation they are being held under, deserve to not have their humans rights ignored," Archuleta said. Milstein said he hopes the federal investigation into Kim's death looks at current conditions at the center, as well. In a letter to the Homeland Security Department, Milstein said Kim arrived at the RCC in late August 2006. Milstein alleges that repeated requests for medical attention for Kim were ignored or given scant attention. During her detention, Kim was "tossed a roll of Tums by a nurse at one point and may have been administered a finger-prick blood test for diabetes." Kim was taken to an outside medical facility only when her "eyes yellowed and she could no longer eat," according to Milstein. She died at the medical facility. "In addition to our deep concern for the unnecessary suffering Ms. Kim endured in the absence of minimally adequate medical care, we are also obviously and gravely concerned that ICE detainees at the RCC facility are not currently being provided with reasonable medical attention," he wrote. ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said the center meets agency standards. The agency has room for 700 immigrants at the lockup. "ICE audits the RCC as it does other contract facilities every year. It has met the same national detention standards that the ICE-owned facilities meet," she said.

April 18, 2007 Santa Fe Reporter
As hundreds of immigrants spend what may be their final days in the United States behind bars, the living conditions in New Mexico’s main immigrant detention facility are coming under fire. “Right now, people are being denied health care, the place is filthy and the food is so bad there have been hunger strikes to protest it,” Santa Fe lawyer Brandt Milstein tells SFR. Milstein, a cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, has been coordinating a team of local lawyers investigating the conditions at downtown Albuquerque’s Regional Correctional Center (RCC). Local attorneys and activists are keeping an eye on the conditions at Albuquerque’s RCC, where illegal immigrants are detained. In response to questions from SFR, Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for Cornell Companies, the for-profit operator of RCC, issued a statement that highlighted the company’s efforts, but did not respond directly to Milstein’s allegations: “Cornell strives to operate excellent facilities,” the statement begins. “We appreciate all concerns expressed by our inmates and their families, and we work to address them as efficiently as possible.” Milstein says he has visited the 970-bed facility, home to more than 700 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees in addition to other local and federal inmates. He met detainees with staph infections as well as ringworm. “That’s indicative of how bad conditions are in there,” Milstein says. While similar complaints have led to lawsuits elsewhere—most recently at an immigration detention facility in San Diego, Calif., earlier this year—Milstein says, “We are not prepared to announced any lawsuit as of now.” Marcela Díaz, the director of Santa Fe-based immigration rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, says she’s also heard concerns. “We’ve heard from family members that there’s an overall lack of information about immigration hearings or if family members are still detained or if they’ve already been deported,” Díaz says. Díaz says Somos also has heard “complaints from people that they don’t know how to send money to family members there to buy food or toiletries.”

July 21, 2006 AP
The American Civil Liberties Union dropped a lawsuit Thursday against the state Corrections Department after Secretary Joe Williams agreed to convene a special commission to address overcrowding at the women's prison near Grants. The action ended a dispute that began when the civil-rights organization sued in April. The ACLU claimed the agency wasn't complying with a 2002 law that provides for early release of nonviolent prisoners when a prison is over capacity for two months. Officials subsequently moved 68 women from the New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility to a privately operated Albuquerque jail. Corrections officials argued that the shift meant the Grants prison no longer was over capacity.

Salt Lake Valley Detention Center, Salt Lake, Nevada
September 17, 2008 Deseret News
A California-based company that previously ran a Salt Lake juvenile detention facility for 11 years is suing the state of Utah after a new five-year contract was awarded to another firm. Cornell Corrections of California, which does business as Abraxas Youth and Family Services, recently filed a lawsuit in 3rd District Court requesting that the decision regarding the multimillion-dollar contract be overturned and that Abraxas get the new contract instead. Abraxas alleges that the decision-making process used by the Utah Department of Human Services and other state agencies in awarding the contract was "arbitrary and capricious" and was "clearly erroneous." In fiscal year 2008, the budget for the Salt Lake Valley Detention Center was about $3.8 million, according to Liz Sollis, DHS public information officer. Abraxas in the latest round of bidding submitted a proposal containing a budget of approximately $5.2 million for fiscal year 2009, Sollis said. Meanwhile, Cornerstone Programs Corp. submitted a proposal that had a budget of about $4.4 million for fiscal year 2009. Cornerstone, based in Centennial, Colo., has operated the 60-bed Farmington Bay Juvenile Detention Facility in Davis County since 1995. Sollis did not comment on the litigation. However, she said contract proposals are initially reviewed by DHS and then referred to the state's Department of Administrative Services Division of Purchasing and General Services for final decisions. The Salt Lake Valley Detention Center is a 160-bed locked facility for juveniles ages 10-18 who are being held temporarily until their cases are resolved in court or DHS can find another place for them. While in the center, the young people receive a variety of services, including such things as schooling, medical and dental care, psychological help and other assistance. The center at 3450 S. 900 West is owned by the state, but services are provided through contracts with other organizations. The lawsuit said there were 4,190 admissions to the center during fiscal year 2007. Abraxas said in its suit that it had operated the center successfully and DHS recently gave it a 100 percent rating. "Cornerstone received 164 points for its proposal, while Abraxas received 161.22 points for its proposal. Because the scoring was so close, even a minor error in the scoring process would have resulted in Abraxas being awarded the contract," the lawsuit said. When notified that Cornerstone was getting the contract instead, Abraxas filed a protest with the state making several allegations: that Cornerstone's proposal did not comply with state requirements as far as employee education and other standards; that Cornerstone's proposal contained "blatant misstatements" regarding the services it would or could provide; and that Abraxas' score in one section was rounded down while Cornerstone's was rounded up. Attorneys representing Abraxas and representatives for Cornerstone were not available for comment at press time. (Cornerstone is not a party to this lawsuit; Abraxas is suing the state of Utah.) The Utah Attorney General's Office declined comment.

Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
December 19, 2003
After a 20-year hiatus, Santa Fe County will take over its juvenile detention center at an annual cost of $4.2 million.  On Tuesday, the Santa Fe County Commission by a unanimous vote approved a measure to allow Sheriff Greg Solano to oversee the jail. The move puts an end to the county's practice of hiring a private firm to operate the facility.  As part of the cost to take over the jail Jan. 29, the county plans to partner with Bernalillo County, which will consult and give direction on how to operate the facility at a cost of $100,000. Bernalillo County also assists Valencia County with its facility, said County Manager Gerald Gonzalez.  "This is to help the youth of Santa Fe County and the regional area," Commissioner Mike D. Anaya said. "It's our responsibility as the county to operate this facility."  The county chose to take over the jail because the county's current contractor, Cornell Companies Inc., will stop running the facility on Jan. 28.  The company is ending a three-year relationship with the county because of money. Cornell officials claim the company has lost money because the facility has not been full. Cornell also did not want to renew its contract because the county was seeking to increase the rent.  (ABQ Journal)


November 19, 2003
Guards at the Santa Fe County jail say they found an inmate with black-tar heroin inside the jail Monday afternoon.  Albert Ponce, 28, who is from southern New Mexico, has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, according to undersheriff Robert Garcia.  Police reports indicate a guard at the jail saw Ponce and another inmate walk out of a janitor's closet at the jail Monday afternoon. Another guard reportedly patted both inmates down and found a small sheet of folded paper with the heroin inside it taped to Ponce's body under his jail-issue clothing.  It was too early to know how the heroin found its way into the jail, Garcia said, but drugs inside the facility are not uncommon.  (Santa Fe New Mexican)

November 15, 2003

Nine months after the U.S. Department of Justice found health-care deficiencies at Santa Fe County's jail, problems remain.  The department still won't allow the jail to house federal prisoners, whose removal earlier this year cut off a source of revenue for the 682-bed adult-detention center south of the city.  Officials say solving the jail's medical-care problems will likely call for a greater investment from the county government, which already has felt a drag on its budget, and more cooperation from community health-care providers. The company that provides health services is not performing routine exams for prisoners locked up in the county-owned, privately-operated jail, and in many cases, inmates are being cared for by emergency medical technicians, who have less training than nurses, officials say.  Inmates have complained about medical care more than any other issue since the Justice Department found problems in the jail's medical-screening and treatment procedures.  "The question I have to ask myself is 'Are the inmates getting adequate care?' " said Stephen Spencer, a member of a county committee charged with inspecting jail operations.  Physicians Network Associates, hired to provide medical services at the jail, says there are major hurdles to the kind of care the county wants at the facility.  Some of the difficulties reflect the area's health problems in general: Among the most burdensome is stabilizing substance abusers held at the jail for lack of a more appropriate treatment area.  Physicians Network, which subcontracts with jail operator Management and Training Corp., has medical wards within prisons and jails in Texas, Arizona, Florida and New Mexico. But company vice president Jean Brock says the Santa Fe jail is its worst and most complex site.  Physicians Network admits staff turnover has been a problem in the unit, but president Vernon Farthing said he can't keep help at the jail despite offering an hourly wage that is $7 to $10 more than he pays equally qualified nurses in a Lubbock jail.  Santa Fe County officials have been talking about improving the jail since 2001, when the federal Justice Department first announced it was launching an investigation of civil-right violations there.  Even though the agency likely got involved because of problems with the former operator, Cornell Companies, by the time it audited the jail a year later, MTC was in charge.  Another year passed before the Justice Department issued its March report calling for millions of dollars in security, medical and staff investments.  Soon, the department is expected to file a lawsuit alleging civil-rights violations and a settlement agreement that will dismiss accusations and spell out how the county will ensure proper inmate care.  (Santa Fe New Mexican)

Two years ago, two former guards at the Santa Fe County jail placed a handcuffed Tony Sanchez in now-convicted killer Ivan Lara-Sanchez's cell. The guards placed the two in a cell together despite their knowledge that they were enemies, according to a lawsuit filed by Sanchez on Wednesday. "Lara-Sanchez immediately attacked and brutally beat Tony Sanchez, inflicting serious, permanent injuries," reads the suit. The two former guards who placed Sanchez in Lara-Sanchez's cell knew that Sanchez's jail classification form listed Lara-Sanchez as Sanchez's "sworn enemy," according to the suit. (ABQ Journal, September 6, 2003)

The adoptive parents of a former Santa Fe County jail inmate who died there at age 19 of a drug overdose in July, 2001, have sued the jail's former private manager, the county and others associated with the facility. Santiago Martinez of Chimayó was admitted to the jail around September 2000, on charges of heroin trafficking, drug paraphernalia possession and other charges, according to the suit. Martinez "had a very serious substance abuse problem or substance abuse addiction" at the time he was placed in the jail's custody, the suit says. The lawsuit alleges that Cornell Corrections, Santa Fe County and former County Sheriff Ray Sisneros, among other defendants, did not conduct appropriate medical screening for Martinez to identify and treat Martinez's drug problem. (ABQ Journal, July 2, 2003)

A recent report by U.S. Department of Justice investigators is harshly critical of the medical care provided to prisoners at the Santa Fe County jail, concluding that "certain conditions at the Detention Center violate the constitutional rights of inmates." The report contends inadequate care cost a diabetic inmate his sight and that other prisoners failed to get adequate care for head trauma, pregnancy and mental problems leading to suicide. (Albuquerque Tribune, April 5, 2003)

A woman who became a hostage of bank robber Byron Shane Chubbuck after he escaped from a prison transport van in December 2000 is suing over the incident. Stephanie Angus alleges in the complaint that Cornell Corrections of Texas Inc., then the operator of the Santa Fe County Detention Center, and the Santa Fe County Commission violated her civil rights by allowing Chubbuck to escape. (Albuquerque Journal, December 29, 2002)

Paula Arrietta-Boyce said her ulcer bled for two months during the time she was incarcerated at the Santa Fe County jail. But corrections officers and medical staff repeatedly ignored her requests for help. "I'd be in pain and I'd actually vomit blood," the 34-year-old mother said. Eventually, she said, the jail's medical unit gave her medicine. "When you go to medical, you have to have a stinking fit so they give you some help," the former inmate charged. Difficulty obtaining medical care was one of the leading complaints of inmates during the time Cornell operated the adult detention center on N.M. 14 south of Santa Fe. Under Cornell, inmates also complained about lack of toilet paper, being kept in segregation for too long, sexual harassment and lack of access to the facility's law library -- a room with plastic lawn chairs and portable shelves holding a few books. (The Santa Fe New Mexican, November 25, 2001)

Cornell Corrections Inc. withdrew its application Tuesday to continue running the Santa Fe County's adult jail for the next three years, saying it had experienced financial problems operating the facility. Paul Doucette, a spokesman for the Houston-based company, said Cornell had lost a significant amount of money running the jail. (AP, August 15, 2001)

A former Santa Fe County jail guard pleaded guilty Tuesday to helping three federal inmates escape the facility four months ago for $3,000. Lawrence Candelaria, 44, of Las Vegas, N.M., admitted in federal court he gave the inmates a hammer, a chisel and hacksaw blades they used to saw the metal bars and crack the window of one of the cells of the jail. The jail is privately run by Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. Candelaria, who was fired shortly after his arrest in April, also admitted letting one of the inmates use his cell phone to call for a ride. The inmates still have not been apprehended. (The Santa Fe New Mexican, August 1, 2001)

Police say Marcos Cordova engaged in sexual intercourse several times with a female inmate at Santa Fe County Jail. A former Santa Fe County jail guard was behind bars Tuesday charged with having sex with a female inmate on numerous occasions while he worked there. Police arrested Marcos Cordova, 39, of Santa Fe on a district-court warrant Tuesday. (The Santa Fe New Mexican, July 18, 2001)

A 17-year-old prisoner escaped from the Santa Fe County juvenile detention center around 6:40 p.m. Monday by climbing over a 20-foot-high chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, according to Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department. Montano said Haws apparently climbed the fence in an outdoor area of the detention center known as a "bullpen" when the guards weren't looking. "When the staff turned its back he climbed over the top and took off," Montano said. (Albuquerque Journal, June 19, 2001)

A Santa Fe County jail guard has been arrested on charges that he was to be paid $3,000 to help three federal inmates who escaped from that lockup Saturday. Lawrence Candelaria, 43, of Las Vegas, N.M., is charged with aiding and abetting an escape. Court documents obtained by The Journal said the investigation revealed Candelaria allegedly smuggled in three hacksaw blades and gave them to one of the inmates, let one of the inmates use his cellular phone to arrange Saturday's escape, and created diversions while the inmates cut and pounded their way out. (ABQ Journal, April 13, 2001)

Allegations of a drug smuggling attempt and an inmate beating have prompted the sheriff to launch a criminal investigation into activities at the privately operated Santa Fe County Detention Center. Sheriff Ray Sisneros has assigned a detective to the center on a full-time basis. Sisneros is particularly suspicious of allegations that a guard tried to sneak a small bag of marijuana into the jail and the arrest of another guard who allegedly beat an inmate. (AP, April 1, 2001)

A Santa Fe County jail guard has been fired for allegedly agreeing to take $70 to sneak a bag of marijuana into the Cornell run jail for an inmate. (AP, March 22, 2001)

Former guard Christopher Grule found himself on the wrong side of a cell door Friday after his arrest on charges he beat an inmate who was later stitched up at the hospital, according to a Santa Fe County sheriff's report. According to court documents, Gurule used his body to push Chatman into a cider-block wall in the jail's booking area, where Gurule was working as a booking officer. Gurule held Chatman against the wall and the slammed his head into it, giving Chatman a 1 1/2-inch cut to his right eyebrow, the document state. (Albuquerque Journal, March 6, 2001)

A convicted bank robber dubbed "Robin the Hood" used a key to free himself from his restraints before escaping from a prisoner transport van, a federal law enforcement officer said. He freed himself from his restraints, kicked out a window in the van and ran away. Authorities said at least one of the two guards in the transport van fired at Chubbuck after the escape. (Albuquerque Journal, December 23, 2000)

Santa Fe County Juvenile Detention Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
About 60 people who currently work at the Santa Fe County Youth Detention Center will have a chance to become county employees when the government takes over the youth jail from a private contractor later this month. Cornell Companies announced this summer it would not renew its contract to operate the 128-bed facility, which it has operated for about five years. Last month, the County Commission voted not to contract another private operator. (Santa Fe New Mexican, January 8, 2004)

November 15, 2003
Santa Fe County has a little more than two months to find a new company to operate its juvenile detention center.  Earlier this month, the county opened up its process to find a company to replace Cornell Companies Inc. The firm notified the county it will terminate its contract at the end of January.  Greg Parrish, county correctional service manager, said the county is in the process of taking bids from companies interested in operating the facility. Companies interested in running the jail need to submit a plan to the county by 3 p.m. Dec. 9.  "We are under a time crunch," Parrish said. "We need to move forward very quickly and get a new operator on board."  Cornell's decision to terminate its contract with the county happened two years after the Texas-based company stopped operating county's adult jail.  Cornell notified the county in August that it would terminate its contract to run the juvenile jail. The company has run the youth facility for three years.  Cornell is terminating its contract— to the surprise of county officials— because the company is losing money, said Paul Doucette, Cornell vice president.  The bottom line is also why Cornell in August 2001 decided to no longer operate the county's adult jail. Doucette said the 670-bed facility never operated at capacity and Cornell exited a three-year contract for the adult jail at an overall loss.  In the past two years, Doucette said Cornell has experienced similar results with operating the 57-bed juvenile center.  "The population at the facility has not been full," Doucette said. "The rent was going to be so high next year that it was going to be tough to sustain the programs we offer at the jail."  Before Cornell decided to end its contract, the company attempted to negotiate a new contract with the county with the hopes of getting a better deal on the rent, he said.  Doucette said the county was unwilling to negotiate a lower lease agreement and that led to the decision to terminate the contract. Doucette would not reveal the price the company was trying to negotiate.  The county pays a daily rate to Cornell for each youth, but the contract requires Cornell to pay $25,000 in rent each month and waive the daily fee for 8.25 beds per month.  (ABQ Journal)

A former corrections officer at the Santa Fe County Youth Development Program who pleaded guilty to raping a juvenile inmate will be released on house arrest and must undergo additional psychological evaluation before sentencing, state District Judge Michael Vigil ruled Tuesday. John Robertson, 39, pleaded guilty last week to two felony sex crimes for having intercourse with a 16-year-old girl at the facility. (Santa Fe New Mexican, September 3, 2003)

Schaffner Youth Center, Steelton, Pennsylvania
A 16-year-old Harrisburg boy escaped from a Dauphin County juvenile detention center, using a sock to disable a locked door and a walkie-talkie to create confusion. The teenager, who then outran two guards, remains at large following the escape at about 1 a.m. Tuesday from the Schaffner Youth Center in Steelton. No one was injured, according to county spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher. Two guards have been suspended without pay pending a review of the facility, which is managed by Cornell Abraxas and holds about 65 youths, Kocher said. "We did have several unfortunate breakdowns in security," she said. (AP, March 19, 2004)

Seal Beach City Jail, Seal Beach City, California
June 28, 2007 Orange County Register
A city jail that once housed up to 30 inmates has been effectively shut down, ending 13 years of operation under a management company whose former employees have in recent years been accused of stealing from jail inmates and conspiring with a former inmate to murder a Newport Beach couple. Seal Beach city officials have stopped short of saying the contract with Texas-based Correctional Systems Inc. was terminated because of problems with the company's employees, including a former jailer who is awaiting trial on conspiracy murder charges and three other jailers charged with stealing an inmate's Sony PlayStation and forging documents to cover up the crime. "We dismissed the vendor for a failure to produce a profit," said Seal Beach police Chief Jeffrey Kirkpatrick, explaining that the for-profit jail in the city's police station on Seal Beach Boulevard was losing money. "We had to share a loss, and that was not tenable." The Seal Beach jail, which Kirkpatrick said was costing the police department "thousands of dollars" a year to keep open, housed pay-to-stay prisoners for $70 a night as well as federal prisoners. The 30-bed jail was effectively shut down June 15, although individuals arrested by Seal Beach police still can be booked and held there for short periods of time. Under management by Correctional Systems, the Seal Beach jail in recent years also racked up numerous violations during inspections by state regulators more than any other city jail in Orange County, state records show. "It's embarrassing for the police department," said Seal Beach Mayor John Larson. "Even though it was a contractor running it for the city, we get blamed for everything." Perhaps the most notorious Correctional Systems employee was Seal Beach jailer Alonso Machain, who allegedly conspired with an inmate he met in jail to steal a $440,000 yacht in November 2004 and kill the Newport Beach couple who owned it. Machain, who was arrested a few months after the couple mysteriously disappeared, was charged with two counts of murder. Machain and the former inmate, Skylar Deleon, pleaded not guilty in court and remain in custody awaiting trial. The complex murder case actually involves another, earlier alleged slaying by Deleon while he was serving time in Seal Beach. In December 2003, Deleon, who was allowed out of the jail during the day on a work furlough program, allegedly killed a man named Jon Jarvi after conning him out of about $50,000. Authorities say Deleon drove Jarvi to Mexico, slashed his throat and dumped him on a highway. Deleon returned late to the Seal Beach jail that night, and it was Machain who allegedly allowed him inside. After Deleon's release in April 2004, he and Machain pretended to be interested in buying Thomas and Jackie Hawks' $440,000 yacht docked in Newport Beach, authorities say. The couple unknowingly took Deleon and Machain on test drives, and in November 2004, the men allegedly overpowered the couple at sea, forced them to sign over the yacht, killed them and weighed down their bodies with an anchor before tossing them overboard. About two years later, in an unrelated incident, three Seal Beach jailers were implicated in the alleged theft of an inmate's Sony PlayStation. After stealing the video game player last year, they created a false receipt indicating the inmate's mother had received the PlayStation and destroyed the original receipt, prosecutors said. Victor Calzada of Stanton, Fred Madrigal of West Covina and Michael Navarro of Bellflower, all in their 20s at the time, pleaded not guilty; their pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 6. Despite the bad publicity for the jail, city officials maintain that terminating the contract with Correctional Systems was a financial one. After the company began losing money on the jail, Seal Beach police proposed changing the contract to a tenant-landlord business model so the police department would not have to share in the jail company's losses. Correctional Systems declined the offer, police said. The company also was given two consecutive six-month probationary periods to improve its financial performance, according to police. The 12-month period would have ended June 30. Correctional Systems declined to comment, except to say that pulling out was a mutual decision. "Despite good-faith negotiations, we weren't able to reach agreements on the terms," said spokeswoman Christine Parker. Because Seal Beach police planned in advance for the closure of the jail and had stopped accepting longer-term inmates, only about three inmates had to be transferred to other jails, said Doug Shur, police department liaison for the jail. Seal Beach jail violations: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation cited the Seal Beach city jail for 15 violations in 2004 and six violations in 2006. The 2006 violations were: No written policy for maintaining records for in-custody injuries *No written policy for reviewing in-custody deaths *No written policy to ensure inmates who are kept in sobering cells for more than six hours are evaluated by medical staff  *No written policy for an inmate to file or resolve a grievance *Some cells lacking the required 25-square-foot space for work-related use *Insufficient space and furnishings to meet personal needs The 2004 violations were: *Documentation unavailable to show jailers had required supervisory training *Documentation unavailable to show jailers had required continuing professional training *Female employees not always available to assist female inmates in emergencies *Inconsistencies between written policy and practice *No written policy to segregate inmates suspected of an infectious disease *No written policy to identify, segregate and/or treat inmates with a mental disorder *No written policy to segregate inmates prone to escape, disruptive behavior or harm by other inmates *Improper policies to control and oversee inmates' mail correspondence *Inconsistent policy for inmates scheduled to be disciplined. The jail also was independently cited by Orange County health officials for problems with minimum diet standards, menu selection, kitchen sanitation and pharmaceutical management, bringing the total number of violations for 2004 to 15.

Sentencing Concept, San Luis Obispo, California
April 19, 2008 Tribune News
A San Luis Obispo business that abruptly announced it was closing at the end of the month temporarily left local criminal justice officials scrambling to keep juveniles electronically monitored and community work service and youth offender programs running. But on Friday, officials said they secured a business to run two of the programs while still searching for someone to electronically monitor youths released from Juvenile Hall. The San Luis Obispo office of Sentencing Concepts plans to shut down permanently April 30 after about 12 years of running criminal justice programs in the county, according to Wendy Martinez, the company’s regional director. “We had a last-minute notice that we were closing,” Martinez said Tuesday about the notice from its parent company, Cornell Companies Inc. in Texas. “We’ve made profit, just not enough profit to keep our people happy. We had a deadline by which we needed to make X amount of dollars … and the deadline came and went.” Sentencing Concepts was told to close its San Luis Obispo office, which employs two people. Its Santa Maria location will close June 30. The short notice left the county Probation Department and the District Attorney’s Office in precarious positions, scouting out a business to take over the services or leave offenders without programs. Former San Luis Obispo County Probation Officer Bill Pucciarelli said Friday he plans to pick up the Young Adults Deferred Judgment Program and the community work service program. A new vendor is still needed for the electronic monitoring program, which Sentencing Concepts will operate until July 1 from its Santa Maria office. Assistant Chief Probation Officer Jim Salio said Thursday he is confident a replacement will be found before then.

Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center, Canon City, Colorado
April 29, 2010 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An Alpharetta man was sentenced Thursday to three years and five months in prison for bilking a Colorado corrections facility project out of nearly $13 million. Edgar J. Beaudreault Jr. pleaded guilty in December to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In 2003, Beaudreault, 61, and San Diego co-defendant Howard Sperling tricked Cornell Corrections of California Inc. into transferring $13 million into an Atlanta account that was supposed to be an escrow account for the purchase price of a Canon City, Colo., facility under construction, court authorities said. Rather than having the escrow administered by a reputable bank, Beaudreault and Sperling wired the money to other accounts for their own personal use. Under the same contract, the two men and another defendant also were supposed to obtain a construction loan on behalf of the general contractor on the project, but didn’t. “These defendants were part of an elaborate fraud scheme that ironically involved the construction of a prison,” U.S. attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. “They will now experience how business is conducted inside a real prison.” In addition to the federal prison sentence, Beaudreault is required to serve three years on supervised release and pay $5.4 million in restitution.

February 23, 2010 Pueblo Chieftain
A Chicago man who pocketed $605,000 in construction funds during the building of a youth treatment facility here was convicted Friday of conspiracy and wire fraud. A federal jury in Atlanta found Robert B. Surles, 64, guilty of conspiracy and 15 counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to steal nearly $13 million from Cornell Co., which built the Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center in 2003. From Aug. 2003 to Jan. 2004, Surles, along with Edgar Beaudreault, 60, of Georgia, and Howard Sperling, 45, of San Diego, conspired to defraud Cornell of construction funds. Surles was to obtain a $12 million construction loan, but he and his co-defendants never obtained financing for the project and instead led the contractor to believe they had. The trio falsely represented that the funds were in an escrow account, but instead the money was transferred to other accounts. Although some money was used to get the construction started, the majority of funds was taken by the trio for personal purposes. The evidence at trial showed Surles took $605,000 of the funds, according to Patrick Crosby, public affairs officer for the United States Attorney's office in Atlanta. "This defendant fraudulently induced a company to transfer approximately $13 million into an ‘escrow account’ that turned out to be nothing but a piggy bank for the defendant and his co-conspirators," said Sally Quillian Yates, acting U.S. Attorney in Atlanta. "A federal jury was not fooled by the story he told when he testified and convicted him on conspiracy and multiple counts of fraud." Both Beaudreault and Sperling pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and testified against Surles. All three are awaiting sentencing for the crime and Surles is slated to be sentenced April 27.

August 15, 2005 Canon City Daily Record
Cañon City police charged 18-year-old David Allen June with attempted first-degree murder and attempted first-degree assault after an incident Thursday at the Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center, 700 Fourmile Parkway, in Cañon City. According to police reports, June, a resident at the center who has family in Penrose, lunged at staff member Laurie Nemcik wielding television chords. June allegedly tried to stab Nemcik in the neck with the prongs of the chords before being restrained by several staff members. Southern Peaks opened in August of 2004 as a treatment facility for adolescents in the region with behavioral or mental health issues. Six residents ran off from the campus during its first month of operation, but they eventually were caught. There have been a number of runaways and alleged assaults since, including a spate of nine assault arrests during the first week of March. In June, two teens were arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting another resident with a magic marker. Charges were later dropped against one of the defendants after the victim testified in the case.

October 29, 2004 Canon City Daily Record
It seems that the Cornell juvenile facility has had considerable startup problems. Does it really have that much economic impact on Cañon City? Would we be better off without this facility?
Cornell officials admit that the Fremont County facility (Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center) has had more problems than its fair share. Management has reacted with some terminations, transfers, demotions, additional staff training, slowing down intakes, moving out clients and establishing a community advisory committee.

October 8, 2004 Canyon Cafe
Recent escapes from the Southern Peaks Treatment Facility have local law enforcement and city officials, along with a growing number of citizens, concerned and looking for possible solutions. Since Sept. 29, seven students have escaped from the facility, located in the new Four Mile development off Highway 50.
While law enforcement officials are worried about the safety of the community and the strain on their budget, local citizens are beginning to worry about the placement of a new elementary school near the facility in the Four Mile Development. Rabe said that Sheriff Jim Beicker and Police Chief Dan Shull were willing to work with Southern Peaks to correct the problem. However, Beicker said he has not been contacted by anyone at Southern Peaks to help address the situation. “(Southern Peaks) has already been a burden on law enforcement and a safety concern to the community and it was not represented that way originally,” Beicker said. “It’s almost an unfunded mandate when the court orders me to transport these kids.” “I asked how many times do you expect law enforcement will have to come out there (to Southern Peaks), and he said ‘oh, once or twice a year.’ Well, they filled that quota in the first couple hours,” Beicker said. Florence Police Chief Mike Ingle picked up two of the escapees near a gas station when he noticed two suspicious looking teenagers, not knowing that anyone had escaped from Southern Peaks. “They’re filling up beds (in Spring Creek Youth Services Center). We’re only contracted for so many beds. That’s one of the reasons we can’t get kids in there sometimes, because they are filled with Cornell kids. Lisa Tauser, communications director for Cornell, a privatized corrections company that runs Southern Peaks, stressed that it is a treatment center for juveniles, not another jail like Fremont County residents are used to. “We don’t anticipate that kids are going to walk away, but I guess to an extent that is part of the life of this program,” Tauser said. “They’re not escaping, they are simply walking away from the facility. Tauser said that over time, as the staff is more properly trained, the incidents should decrease and they will not have to rely on law enforcement.

October 7, 2004 Daily Record
Four more juveniles have escaped from the Southern Peaks Treatment Center in east Cañon City after breaking a window Saturday night at the Cornell detention center, according to Cornell officials. The latest incident comes days after two escapees were caught Sept. 28 in Florence.

October 7, 2004 Daily Record
Two juvenile males, 16 and 17, who escaped from the Cornell Youth Detention Center in Cañon City, were apprehended at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday by Florence police officers.
"I was very concerned that we were not notified by Cornell that these people were even missing," Florence Police Chief Mike Ingle said.

October 7, 2004 Daily Record
The escape of two juveniles from the Cornell Youth Detention Center has caused the facility to rethink how it informs local law enforcement of such incidents.
"This incident made us aware that our policy for contacting local law enforcement needed to be changed," Cornell Director of Communication Lisa Tauser said. Cornell personnel reported the escape to the Cañon City Police Department, but the Florence Police and the Fremont County Sheriff's Office were not notified. The two offenders escaped through a window from Cornell's dormitory units Monday night. Cornell has confirmed there was another escapee, and a warrant has been issued.

October 5, 2004 Daily Record
In other business, the council:
— Discussed the effect of a spate of escapes from the newly opened Cornell juvenile detention facility on placement of the combined middle-elementary school at the Four Mile ranch. Havens said the city has little jurisdiction because "the placement of a school is usually a matter of right in all zones." Mortensen recommended the council draft a resolution to the school board stating "it's a bad idea to place a school near a correctional facility, such as Cornell." One of the primary concerns has been the lag time between when Cornell has discovered escapes and when law enforcement officials and the public have been notified.

October 1, 2004 KOAA
Three juvenile convicts are sitting in a Colorado Springs detention center after escaping from a new Canon City mental facility. The teenagers apparently broke out of the Cornell Southern Peaks Treatment Center and walked all the way to Florence, where police noticed their suspicious behavior and picked them up.
The Cornell facility has been open less than two months.

South Mountain Secure Treatment Unit, South Mountain, Pennsylvania
May 4, 2006 The Record Herald
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's Office of Children, Youth and Family will take over management the South Mountain Secure Treatment Unit for juvenile offenders on South Mountain Road starting July 1. The move also affects residents from the South West Secure Treatment Unit in Torrance, which is closing, according to Stacey Ward, spokesman for DPW. They will be moved to South Mountain. “One of the things we look at every year is fiscal responsibility. Occupancy was an issue,” Ward said. The South Mountain facility was maintaining an 80 percent occupancy rate. There are now 27 residents in the 52-bed facility that has been managed by Cornell Companies Inc. since 1997. “Through combining the two, we'll be at almost 98 percent,” she added. The secure treatment units house more aggressive and difficult court-adjudicated juveniles who have experienced difficulty adjusting to other placements and have extensive placement histories. The state also is hoping to absorb as many of the 71 Cornell employees at South Mountain as possible, she said. “We have heard from a lot of them and they are interested in staying. They become so committed to these kids, they want to stay,” added Ward.


State Training School, Plankinton, South Dakota
November 8, 2004 Argus Leader
Cornell Cos. finally has pulled the plug on its experiment with the former State Training School in Plankinton. Cornell says it won't reopen a 40-bed detention center. And it won't go ahead with plans for an 80-bed residential treatment center. The company came into South Dakota with great fanfare and support from the folks in Plankinton, as well as those in Pierre. The company has experience running detention centers and treatment facilities for youths, and it worked out a deal to reopen the former school. That meant jobs in Plankinton. It meant facilities in South Dakota, so we didn't have to ship young people out of state. It won't happen now, at least not with Cornell, which says it can't make enough money. All that means is that we start over.

Here is our critical review of the past week’s triumphs, tragedies, oddities and blunders.  HISSES on the collapse of the reopening of the juvenile detention center in Plankinton. What just days ago appeared to be a rosy future for the former State Training School now has taken on a funeral pall. Sharp disagreements between the state and Cornell Companies over rate of payment caused a major rupture earlier last week, which turned out to be a roadblock that nobody wanted. There’s little to do now except start over and seek other options for this facility, which needs to be utilized.  (The Daily Republic, August 9, 2004)

Unfortunately, the picture that has emerged regarding the Cornell Companies closing at Plankinton wasn’t a major misunderstanding over reimbursement as much as an assumption by Cornell that the state would give in and pay a higher rate.  If that turns out to be the case, it will go down as one of the biggest miscalculations a company ever could make.  What remains puzzling about this whole unfortunate episode is why a company would gamble so much on the state of South Dakota coming across with a higher pay rate for juveniles at the residential treatment center. The difference between what the state had offered - $125.27 - and what Cornell said it expected to receive - $179 - is a significant amount. However, Gov. Mike Rounds and Social Services Secretary Jim Ellenbecker both stated unequivocally that the state never indicated, much less promised, that it would pay the higher rate.  Even if we give Cornell the benefit of the doubt and assume it was all a big misunderstanding, the logical question then is, what kind of business operation would move forward on a project without knowing exactly what its compensation would be?  (The Daily Republic, August 5, 2004)

Cornell Companies announced Thursday that it would temporarily close its juvenile detention center at Plankinton while working to secure a higher rate of payment for its residential treatment center.  The 40-bed detention center opened only three months ago. It will close as soon as the four remaining children are placed in other facilities.  Cornell had expected to open the treatment center later this month with daily payment of $179 per child from the state. But last week, the state approved a rate of $125.27.  “The structure that’s in place was dependent upon the economies of scale of running both programs side by side,” said Paul Doucette, Cornell’s vice president of business development and public affairs. “It was not a good investment on the part of our shareholders or us to retain the smaller operation pending the opening of the larger operation. It’s a better arrangement to suspend both operations.” Aurora County Commission Chairman Oscar Thompson said Thursday that he was disappointed with Cornell, but he was still hopeful about the company’s future in Plankinton. “I’d say there was a little problem in prior planning as far as Cornell is concerned,” Thompson said. “I’m very disappointed that they did not have everything positively in place. We as a county would like to see a stronger commitment on behalf of Cornell - we evidently were misled a little, too.”  On Wednesday, as rumors of a closure surfaced, Gov. Mike Rounds and other state officials said they never led Cornell to believe that the $179 rate for the residential treatment center would be granted. Rounds said he thought Cornell was trying to “threaten to take jobs away at Plankinton to put pressure on the state.”  Social Services Secretary Jim Ellenbecker and Child Protection Services Administrator Virgena Wieseler also denied Cornell’s claim of being assured a special $179 rate. They said the state could not make an exception to its rate structure, especially when the average rate of payment to the other 13 residential treatment programs in the state is only $113.68.  Furthermore, state officials said Cornell had not shown any evidence that its programs would be more advanced than the other in-state programs. And without a higher level of care, the state could not justify a higher payment.  Doucette said Cornell was assured the $179 rate by a “very senior state official.” He declined to identify the official.  (The Daily Republic, August 7, 2004)

Republican State Sen. Ed Olson said Thursday that an effort is under way to bring all the players in the Cornell situation to a meeting, even though some legislators are angered and bewildered by Cornell’s business practices.  Cornell officials said they were led to believe that the state would pay $179 daily for each child housed at the company’s residential treatment center in Plankinton. State officials emphatically deny that claim, saying that Cornell knew it could only qualify for the rate of $125.27 that was granted last week.  If company officials had done any research at all before starting operations at Plankinton, Olson said, they would have known that the highest rate possible under the state’s current system is only $125.27. So when company officials said they were assured a higher rate by somebody in state government, Olson was skeptical.  Olson said one of the Cornell officials admitted privately that the company may have been too arrogant in its dealings with the state. The official also regretted, Olson said, that Cornell had not insisted on a written guarantee of a higher rate.  “My next question,” Olson said, “was whether any state official or anybody in a position with the state ever said to you that you would get a rate of $179 - whether any state official ever said to you that there was any possibility at the current time that you would get any other rate, at the level of licensure that you’re looking for, other than $125.27. And he said no.”  Olson, therefore, blames Cornell executives for the current state of affairs. But not every lawmaker feels that way.  (Mitchell Republic, August 7, 2004)

Three months after the State Training School at Plankinton reopened as a privately run detention and treatment center, the company operating the facility says it might close the doors.  Officials with Houston-based Cornell Cos. told the Aurora County Commission this week that they're not sure they can afford to treat juveniles at the daily residential-treatment rate offered by the state.  Cornell said it needs $179 a day for each child the South Dakota Department of Social Services sends it. The state said its rate structure allows it to pay only $125.27.  Rep. Lou Sebert, R-Mitchell, said he was puzzled that Cornell would spend money on refurbishing the old training school and not have some idea of the rate that the state was willing to pay.  But Virgena Wieseler, administrator for Child Protection Services in the Department of Social Services, said Cornell knew how high the state was willing to go.  She said Cornell officials met with the departments of Social Services and Corrections last October and were told how those rates were formulated, taking into account such factors as administrative, operational and capital costs. They also were told the highest rates the state paid to other facilities in South Dakota providing similar services.  "The highest rate then for a residential treatment facility was around $121 a day per child," Wieseler said. "No other facility in residential treatment in our state was getting anything above that. And Cornell knew that."  The company was told the same thing in January, Wieseler said, and again in March.  "At no time did anyone in our department guarantee Cornell that they would receive $179 a day or a rate higher than any of the other residential providers," she said. "And I believe that was communicated to them."  (Argus Leader, August 5, 2004)

A decision could come by week's end on whether the company that reopened the state training school at Plankinton will need to close the center at least temporarily.  Chas Fedorco, regional director for Cornell Companies, said the center is still providing treatment but is struggling financially.  ''We're looking at our options, and we hope to make a decision by the end of the week,'' Fedorco said.  However, Fedorco said Cornell officials had been asking for $179 per child per day.  Paul Doucette, vice president for business development and public affairs for Cornell, said the rate proposed by the state makes it tough to provide proper care.  (AP, August 5, 2004)

Taft, California
August 4, 2006 Midway Driller
Too many questions about the city's future and a prospective prison facility operator's past prompted the Taft City Council to unanimously turn down a request to endorse a bid to open another community correctional facility. The Cornell Companies asked the city to write a letter endorsing their plan to open CCFs next to the existing deferral prison on Cadet Road on city-owned land and sell the land if it is successful in its bid. The major issue was ensuring adequate infrastructure to allow the city to expand. The council wants to make sure that the wastewater treatment plant that currently serves the federal Taft Correctional Institution and would serve the new private facility if it is built would have adequate room to expand to handle anticipated residential growth on the east side of Taft. In addition, several of the councilmen had questions about The Cornell Companies reputation. Cornell officials first met with individual councilmen in late spring to discuss their proposal privately, they came to the council on July 18 to ask the city to write a letter to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The council held a special meeting a week ago to consider that request, then tabled action for a week to get public input. “I'd hate to sell the city short be selling this land,” Craig Noble said. “I think we need to pull back and think on this before we go ahead.” Mayor Cliff Thompson said the people he talked to overwhelmingly supported a new prison, but he too had concerns - both about the wastewater issue and things he had found out about Cornell in the past week. “”I have some issues with what kind of company they are.” Noble said an internet search of Cornell alerted him to hisses with a facility Cornell operated in New Mexico that led to lawsuits and the city of Santa Fe hiring an attorney to work full time on problems with Cornell. He also wondered why Cornell came in with the last -minute request to have the city write the letter, and then also say they needed more land than they first asked for. Noble said that brings Cornell's credibility into question and I'd hate to give any letter of recommendation to a company like that. Thompson said Cornell officially had lied to him about the wages they paid. He said he was told Cornell would pay $10 to $14 per hour, but later found out they would only pay $8 to $10 per hour. Cornell officials didn't attend Tuesday's meeting.

Texas Adolescent Treatment Center, San Antonio, Texas
April 3, 2008 KRIS TV
Eight immigrant teenagers held at a facility for unaccompanied minors filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming they were abused and denied access to attorneys. The teens from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba were being held at the San Antonio facility run by Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. under a contract with the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. Undocumented minors caught by authorities in the United States fall under the care of ORR while their immigration cases are decided. But Susan Watson, an attorney for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, said the teens were beaten and subjected to other excessive force in violation of their constitutional rights. At least one teen was knocked unconscious, but complaints to facility administrators were ignored, according to the lawsuit. Officials at Cornell also denied the teens access to attorneys by unnecessarily transferring them to other facilities before scheduled lawyer meetings, the lawsuit alleges. The suit names Cornell and 15 employees along with three employees of ORR. It does not name ORR itself because the teens have not filed or exhausted their administrative claims against the agency, a requirement that must be fulfilled before the federal government can be sued. "We vociferously dispute the charges in the lawsuit, and we'll make our case in court," said Cornell spokesman Charles Siegel. The facility has 122 beds, but Cornell has a contract to house no more than 25 unaccompanied minors there, Seigel said. Calls to officials at ORR were not immediately returned Thursday. The allegations raised by the immigrant teens were not the first against Cornell. Arkansas fired Cornell from the operation of a juvenile facility in November 2006 after finding employees inappropriately injected youth with anti-psychotic medication to control behavior. And in September, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials removed 600 detainees from an Albuquerque, N.M., facility run by Cornell, citing failure to maintain safety, health and well-being standards there.

Tom DeLay, Sugar Land, Texas
September 29, 2005 Star-Telegram
In a move denounced as a political witchhunt, Rep. Tom DeLay was indicted Wednesday with two associates on a felony charge of conspiring to circumvent Texas' prohibition of corporate campaign donations to secure the Republican takeover of the Texas House in 2002. Shortly after Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle announced the indictment, the Republican congressman from Sugar Land resigned his powerful majority leader post in Washington, at least temporarily. DeLay, 58, is accused of conspiring with two associates to convert $190,000 in donations from several corporations into campaign contributions on behalf of seven Republican candidates who were involved in what many had believed would be close contests for seats in the Texas House.

September 28, 2005 Bloomberg
U.S. Representative Tom DeLay, the No. 2 Republican in the House, was indicted by a Texas grand jury for criminal conspiracy in connection with illegal corporate political donations, prompting him to give up his leadership post. Two former campaign aides, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, were also charged with conspiracy by the state grand jury in Travis County, according to the single-count indictment. The charge stems from an investigation into alleged use of illegal corporate contributions by DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, in the 2002 races for the state House of Representatives. The four-page indictment charges that DeLay conspired with Ellis and Colyandro to use donations from companies including Williams Companies Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., now Sears Holdings Corp., to help finance the election campaigns of seven members of the Texas House in 2002. Under Texas law, corporations aren't permitted to donate to candidates. Other companies named, but like Williams and Sears, not charged in the indictment were Diversified Collections Services Inc., Cornell Companies Inc., Bacardi U.S.A. Inc. and Questerra Corp.

September 13, 2005 American-Statesman
A Travis County grand jury today added new felony charges against two officials with Texans for a Republican Majority who first were indicted last fall. The grand jury re-indicted political consultants John Colyandro and Jim Ellis on first-degree felony charges that the two laundered a $190,000 corporate check into campaign donations during the 2002 elections. It added lesser felony charges of unlawfully making a contribution to a political party and criminal conspiracy involving the $190,000 transaction. Just weeks before the 2002 election, Colyandro, who was executive director of the political committee created by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, sent a blank check to his counterpart, Ellis, in Washington.

September 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A Travis County grand jury indicted a business organization and a political committee founded by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Thursday on felony charges of violating election laws by using corporate money to influence state elections. The indictments accuse the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee of two counts of illegally soliciting corporate money for political campaigns. The indictment of TRMPAC is significant because it reflects on DeLay's role in overseeing the committee. DeLay served on its board of advisers and helped raise some of the corporate money at the core of the controversy. Texas election law prohibits the use of corporate or labor-union money to influence races for elective office. TRMPAC could face a fine of up to $40,000, but the committee filed articles of dissolution with the Texas Ethics Commission in July. Earle said the dissolution does not matter because TRMPAC's management or board of advisers can be held liable for its criminal conduct.

August 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle
A state district judge refused Tuesday to dismiss charges of money laundering and accepting illegal political contributions against two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. Judge Bob Perkins denied arguments from John Colyandro and Jim Ellis that the charges were based on an unconstitutionally vague law and that the indictments were improperly worded. Lawyers for Colyandro, who worked for DeLay's fundraising committee Texans for a Republican Majority, and Jim Ellis, who worked for Americans for a Republican Majority, have said they will appeal, likely delaying any trial for at least several months. The charges stem from the 2002 Texas legislative elections. The money-laundering charges are based on $190,000 in corporate money that was sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee.

July 13, 2005
AUSTIN - A state district judge declined Tuesday to dismiss charges of accepting illegal political contributions against an associate of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.  Lawyers for John Colyandro, who worked for DeLay's fund-raising committee Texans for a Republican Majority, had claimed that the indictment against him was based on an unconstitutionally vague law.  Judge Bob Perkins also declined to dismiss a charge of money laundering against Colyandro, although that issue remains technically alive.  The charges stem from the 2002 Texas legislative elections.  The money-laundering charges are related to $190,000 in corporate money sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee.   The committee then gave the same amount to seven Texas House candidates.

May 27, 2005 Star-Telegram
A fund-raising operation founded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay broke the law when its treasurer failed to report more than $500,000 in corporate money funneled into Texas campaigns during the pivotal 2002 elections, a judge ruled Thursday. Texas District Judge Joseph Hart ruled that the treasurer, Bill Ceverha, must pay five Democratic candidates who lost their elections a combined $196,660 in damages. It was the first time -- amid a flood of lawsuits and criminal investigations surrounding the Republican Party's rapid rise to power in Texas -- that part of the GOP's aggressive fund-raising operation has been found illegal. Hart's decision, which came in a lawsuit brought by the Democratic candidates, added quickly to the pressure mounting against DeLay, the Sugar Land Republican who has been under siege for ethics issues and questions about his relationships with lobbyists.

April 21, 2005 New York Times
A children's charity established by Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, has been underwritten by several of the nation's largest companies and their executives, including companies that routinely lobby lawmakers on issues before Congress, according to a review of charity records released by the companies and other documents. The 19-year-old charity, the DeLay Foundation for Kids, has consistently declined to identify its donors, citing their desire for privacy. But a review of corporate and charitable records shows that recent donors have included AT&T, the Corrections Corporation of America, Exxon Mobil, Limited Brands and the Southern Company, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates, the Microsoft founder and his wife, and Michael Dell of Dell computers. The Gates and Dell family foundations have donated at least $350,000 to Mr. DeLay's charity since 2001. Among the largest corporate gifts was a $100,000 check given to Mr. DeLay last year by the Corrections Corporation of Nashville, which manages federal prisons. AT&T and Exxon Mobil say they have each donated $50,000.

April 15, 2005 Salon
"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special-interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know. I say the best disinfectant is full disclosure." That populist polemic was delivered on the House floor in November 1995 by well-known reformer Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Now nationally notorious for his own lobbyist-paid luxury trips to Scotland, Russia and South Korea, among other places, where he has been wined and dined by a bewildering variety of special-interest groups, the House majority leader is no longer quite so strict about full disclosure, either. Even the trait often described as his most admirable -- his concern for abused children -- has been tainted by his penchant for backroom influence peddling. Last year, DeLay was forced to cancel an ambitious series of charitable events to be held at the Republican Convention in New York, following a blast of public criticism over the grossness of the solicitations sent out to lobbyists and corporate donors. For donations ranging between $10,000 and $500,000, these potential benefactors of abused children were to be feted at an exclusive Long Island golf club, as well as provided with a yacht cruise, a VIP suite at the convention, and a special suite for viewing the president's acceptance speech. As the Houston Chronicle noted sourly at the time, the 13-page promotional brochure "had exactly one sentence mentioning abused and neglected children." While that venture was abruptly canceled, DeLay hasn't stopped soliciting corporate interests to raise funds for his charity -- and himself -- at venues around the country. These events aren't publicized and in fact are rarely reported. Last August, for example, DeLay appeared at a luncheon in Lexington, Ky., hosted by Rep. Hal Rodgers, R-Ky., at which donors coughed up money for the DeLay legal defense fund, but this event wasn't reported in the local press until four months later. Among those attending the Lexington luncheon was an executive of the Corrections Corporation of America, who handed the majority leader a $100,000 check made out to the DeLay Foundation for Kids. As the largest private prison contractor in America, CCA relies on the federal government to fill its prisons and its coffers, and is seeking to privatize the prison system in Texas, where DeLay has a bit of influence, too. A spokeswoman for the company told the Lexington Herald-Leader that CCA gives to charities and politicians alike without any expectation of favors in return. In fact, those present at the DeLay luncheon were reportedly emotionally moved to see that big check being handed over.

March 16, 2005 The Free Press
Some civilians believe the definition of an honest Texas pol is one who stays bought. But among pols of the old school, the saying was, "If you can't take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women and vote against 'em anyway, you don't belong in the Legislature." Many of our pols have the ethical sensitivity of a walnut. All this has led many to conclude erroneously that Tom DeLay, an alumnus of the Texas Legislature, is somehow our fault. I grant you a certain resemblance to some of our more notorious standards: "Everybody does it" and "They did it first" are actually considered excuses here. But I categorically reject cultural responsibility for Tom DeLay. Real Texas politicians are neither hypocritical nor sanctimonious. A pol does what he must -- fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly -- but no pol of the Old School, when DeLay served in the Lege, would add self-righteousness to shady dealing. Doing favors for big campaign donors may indeed be an "everybody does it," but when those favors take the form of laws that directly hurt your people, you're supposed to draw the line. Over the line is where Texas pols would put using a children's charity as a cover for collecting soft money from special interest groups and then spending it on dinners, a golf tournament, a rock concert, Broadway tickets and so forth. Because the money was supposedly for a charity, Celebrations for Children, Inc., special interests who wanted favors from DeLay were able to give him money without revealing themselves as campaign donors. Cute trick, Tom, but a really cruddy thing to do. In another example of ethical rot, DeLay took a $100,000 check from the Corrections Corporation of America, a company that runs private prisons in Texas and has a 20-year history that includes mismanagement and abuse. CCA wants the Texas Lege, over which DeLay exercises considerable sway because he's a money conduit, to privatize the prisons. And that check? Made out to DeLay's children's charity, the DeLay Foundation for Kids. Barf.

December 13, 2004 Newsweek
Faced with mounting lawyers' bills to fend off ethics complaints and a grand-jury probe in Texas, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is increasing efforts to raise money for his legal-defense fund. But DeLay, who has raked in more than $400,000 for the fund since last July, could face new questions over how he's raised the cash in the past. In addition, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader last week reported that, while attending a fund-raiser for DeLay's legal fund last August, the head of a private prison firm handed DeLay a $100,000 check for a foundation he operates for abused children.

December 1, 2004 Democrats.org
House Republican leader Tom Delay, after being shielded from losing his leadership position upon indictment by a grand jury, is yet again pushing the ethical envelope. Recently, Delay took a check for $100,000 for his charity from Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company that was looking to add to its list of government prison contracts. So Delay's ethical problems cost him a sizable amount of money in legal bills, then House Republicans changed their ethics rules so that he could stay in the leadership even if indicted on criminal charges, then those same House Republicans helped organize a fundraiser to help him pay for his bills, then at the fundraiser he took a check for $100,000 from a company looking for federal prison contracts and yet, the Republicans still want this man as their leader?

December 1, 2004 Star Telegram
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose aggressive campaign fund raising is the subject of a Texas grand jury investigation, took a $100,000 check from a private prison company at a Lexington fund-raiser in August for a charity he operates. DeLay, R-Sugar Land, has refused to identify donors to his nonprofit DeLay Foundation for Kids, despite calls for disclosure from government-ethics groups that criticize anonymous, unlimited gifts to the charities of powerful members of Congress. However, Corrections Corporation of America confirmed last week that its chief executive officer, John Ferguson, traveled to Lexington to present $100,000 to DeLay's charity. "We absolutely get no favors in return, and we expect no favors in return," Louise Chickering said. Ferguson announced the $100,000 gift before scores of guests at a fund-raising luncheon for DeLay's legal defense fund, organized by Rep. Hal Rogers, Kentucky's senior congressman. Through its political-action committee, CCA contributed nearly $180,000 for federal races during the 2004 elections. DeLay and Rogers took at least $4,500 and $6,000, respectively, from CCA for their campaigns or their "leadership PACs," used to help their colleagues' campaigns.  Calls to Rogers' congressional office were not returned this week.  "These political foundations have become methods for well-heeled corporate executives, lobbyists and others to purchase influence and face time with top politicians, and without the limits or disclosure required of campaign donations or lobbying," said Rick Cohen, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

October 22, 2004 AP
Two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay who have been indicted for alleged campaign finance violations will be allowed to put off answering a civil lawsuit until their criminal charges have been resolved.  State District Judge Joe Hart on Thursday postponed a civil lawsuit against John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, who were charged last month with laundering corporate donations during the 2002 elections.

September 22, 2004 AP
The money laundering allegation in a congressional ethics complaint filed against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay involves the same $190,000 in political contributions that led to indictments of the Texas congressman's aides on similar charges. DeLay is accused in an ethics complaint of misusing the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee to launder $190,000 in illegal corporate contributions through the Republican National Committee for use in Texas legislative races. On Tuesday, a grand jury in Texas indicted Jim Ellis, a paid consultant to Texans for a Republican Majority, and John Colyandro, former executive director of the Texas committee, on money laundering charges involving the same $190,000 check. A third aide was indicted on separate charges. The indictments allege that on Sept. 13, 2002, Ellis delivered a check for $190,000 to the Republican National Committee. The check was signed by Colyandro and made out to the Republican National State Elections Committee. Accompanying it was a list of several GOP Texas legislative candidates and the amount of money that each should get from the RNC, according to the indictment. The indictments said the $190,000 came from corporate contributions to Texans for A Republican Majority. Givers included Diversified Collection Services Inc., $50,000; Sears, Roebuck and Co., $25,000; Williams Companies Inc., $25,000; Cornell Companies, $10,000, Bacardi USA, $20,000 and Questerra Corp., $25,000, the indictments said. They did not account for the remaining contributions. The Republican National State Elections Committee subsequently wrote checks totaling $190,000 to seven Texas candidates, the indictment alleges.
Texas law prohibits the use of corporate money for direct political purposes.

Valencia County Detention Center, Valencia County, New Mexico
March 18, 2009 News-Bulletin
A federal district judge has filed an order approving a preliminary settlement agreement in a class action suit against the county regarding unlawful strip searches at the jail. In April 2007, the law firms of Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom, Schoenburg and Bienvenu in Santa Fe and Griego and Guggino and Associates in Los Lunas filed a class action suit against the county and Cornell Companies, a private corrections company that operated the jail for several years after the new facility was built. The federal civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of two clients who claim they were unlawfully strip-searched while at the county jail. The suit claims that strip searches of all incoming pre-trial detainees were unconstitutional and conducted on people booked into the jail on minor charges or by mistake. According to the order, which was filed late last month, once Judge Christina Jaramillo signs off on the final settlement agreement, the defendants, which include the county as well as Cornell Companies, will pay the plaintiffs $3.3 million. The county will pay $2.145 million, while Cornell agreed to pay its share of the final settlement of $1.155 million. The two plaintiffs in the case will each receive $42,500. The preliminary settlement also says that $1.1 million will be allocated for attorneys' fees, gross receipt tax on plaintiffs' attorney's fees, and plaintiffs' litigation expenses and costs. The actual costs of claims administration, which includes notice to the class, processing and administering the settlement will be paid from the settlement claim. The balance of the settlement fund will be distributed among class members who timely file qualifying forms. "We think there are probably about 630 people that are potentially members of the class," said Santa Fe attorney John Bienvenu. "They are defined as people arrested on charges not involving drugs, weapons or violence between April 3, 2004, and April 3, 2007."

July 27, 2005 News Bulletin
The county administration's efforts to improve its financial status are paying off.  County Manager Mike Trujillo told the Valencia County Commission, during a special meeting Friday that it will begin the 2005-06 budget with a million dollars more than his staff had expected while designing the preliminary budget.  "The additional cash balance from 2004-05 is at an excess of what we expected," Trujillo said of the $2,962,078, which is the largest cash balance since 2001 when the county began experiencing financial problems.  Trujillo attributes three things — delinquent tax collection, managing the adult detention center and a new one-sixth of 1 percent gross receipts tax — for improving the county's projected cash balance.  "Our treasurer's office efforts to collect delinquent taxes has generated $870,000 for the county out of the $3 million they have collected," he said. "We expect the effort to continue with help from the state property tax division."  The administration is expecting a saving of at least $600,000 from the cost of operating the adult detention center.  The county took over operation of the adult detention center Jan. 1, 2004, and was able to finish out the fiscal year at less than the budgeted costs of the private management contract.  However, Trujillo expects to see a greater saving this fiscal year.  "We expect our cost to be $2,656,366 this year compared to the contract with Cornell Corrections Inc., which was $3.26 million," Trujillo said.

May 25, 2005 News-Bulletin
Road conditions, employee salary increases and avoiding Environmental Protection Agency fines are the Valencia County Commission's concerns as it is asked to approve the preliminary 2005-06 budget on Wednesday, May 25.
"We have a commission that is moving the county forward," said County Manager Mike Trujillo. Trujillo and the county's business manager, Michael Steininger, will present a budget that reflects the commission's attempt to fix several problems. "This commission is pro-active," said Steininger. "Yet they only want to fix it once, so they want to do it right." With that attitude, the county took over the management of the adult detention center in January to reduce the amount being spent on the facility. "We are expecting to save at least $850,000 in this year's budget because of the change of management," Trujillo said. "We have the same level of staffing, and we haven't lost any quality of service." This time last year, the commission budgeted $2.9 million for its contract to Cornell Corrections Inc. to manage the county detention center. For fiscal year 2005-06, $1.95 million is budgeted, which includes revenue the facility makes for housing other governmental agency inmates. "By managing the detention center, we are freeing up money that we can use elsewhere in the county operation," Trujillo said.

January 8, 2005 News-Bulletin
The Valencia County Commission approved the settlement of assets with Cornell Companies as the final act of transferring management of the adult detention center to the county. "When we began the process of transferring management, Cornell had quoted assets worth a little over $300,000 that we needed to reimburse," said Michael Steininger, county business manager. "After many hours of our staff researching the list of assets, the final amount was $96,611."
"We have no proof that we paid for the phone system or miscellaneous assets, so we are paying for them now," Steininger said. Overall, Steininger said the amount paid to Cornell was $30,000 more than he had budgeted, but he added that it wouldn't adversely affect the center's budget.

December 29, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
When the Valencia County Commission decided to take over management of the county's adult detention center on Jan. 1, many people felt it couldn't be done in three months. But with two days remaining in Cornell Correction's management contract, County Manager Mike Trujillo says it looks as if the transition will be smooth. "The key things we wanted to have in place before we took over were staffing, food service, medical care and commissary service," Trujillo said. "These are in place." Interim Administrator Michael Oliver says if these positions are not filled by Jan. 1, it will not affect the quality of protection. Oliver said the Cornell employees who opted to join the county's staff said one reason was better benefits. "Currently, Cornell offers a health insurance package, but the employees have to pay 100 percent of the premium," Oliver said. With the county, they will only pay 20 percent. "The employees are looking forward to being in the Public Employee Retirement Association rather than a 401K," Oliver said.

December 21, 2004 KOBTV
A man accused earlier this year of impersonating a law enforcement officer in Valencia County is now facing a federal lawsuit alleging he raped a woman while working as a jail guard.
In pleadings filed at US District Court in Albuquerque, the woman claims she was raped on more than one occasion by a corrections officer while she was an inmate at the Valencia County Detention Center in 2001. Named in the lawsuit are the former corrections officer, the warden of the detention center, and Cornell Corrections Corporation, which runs the jail.

July 27, 2005 News Bulletin
The county administration's efforts to improve its financial status are paying off.  County Manager Mike Trujillo told the Valencia County Commission, during a special meeting Friday that it will begin the 2005-06 budget with a million dollars more than his staff had expected while designing the preliminary budget.  "The additional cash balance from 2004-05 is at an excess of what we expected," Trujillo said of the $2,962,078, which is the largest cash balance since 2001 when the county began experiencing financial problems.  Trujillo attributes three things — delinquent tax collection, managing the adult detention center and a new one-sixth of 1 percent gross receipts tax — for improving the county's projected cash balance.  "Our treasurer's office efforts to collect delinquent taxes has generated $870,000 for the county out of the $3 million they have collected," he said. "We expect the effort to continue with help from the state property tax division."  The administration is expecting a saving of at least $600,000 from the cost of operating the adult detention center.  The county took over operation of the adult detention center Jan. 1, 2004, and was able to finish out the fiscal year at less than the budgeted costs of the private management contract.  However, Trujillo expects to see a greater saving this fiscal year.  "We expect our cost to be $2,656,366 this year compared to the contract with Cornell Corrections Inc., which was $3.26 million," Trujillo said.

A jail guard at the Valencia County adult jail was arrested Thursday night and booked on counts of trafficking in a controlled substance after he allegedly was found selling drugs to inmates, Valnecia County Sherriff's Deputy M. Torres said. Torres said the guard works for Cornell Corrections. The suspect was being held in jail in isolation under a $160,000 bond. (The Albuquerque Journal, June 8, 2002)

Former Valencia County finance officer Carlos Montoya has questioned what he termed "inappropriate" expenses paid to Cornell Corrections when it opened the county's new adult jail two years ago. Montoya, in an interview this week, said the county paid for such items as travel expenses for Cornell employees to fly from Houston, for part of Cornell's salaries and closing costs for warden Anthony Romero when he relocated to Valencia County. (Albuquerque Journal, January 17, 2002)

Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, Leake County, Mississippi
November 3, 2010 WXVT
The family of a deceased inmate is suing the town of Walnut Grove and a private corrections company, claiming Dennis Earl Homes was denied adequate medical care before dying of diabetes. The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, said Homes went to Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility on a robbery conviction in 2007. The lawsuit alleges Homes lost 30 pounds over five months before dying Nov. 1, 2007. He was 20. The lawsuit said Walnut Grove is named as a defendant because the town has a contract with the state to house inmates ages 12-21. GEO Group Inc. and Cornell Companies Inc., which runs the facility, are also named as defendants. The town attorney didn't immediately respond to a message. GEO Group had no comment.

December 8, 2004 Commercial Appeal
The convictions of two Leake County prison inmates on charges of plotting an escape were upheld Tuesday by the state Court of Appeals. Steven Farris, serving a life sentence for a 1998 murder, and Thomas Frederick, serving a four-year sentence on car burglary, were accused of conspiring to escape the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in 2001. The Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, in Leake County, is privately run and houses juveniles who have been sentenced as adults. Witnesses testified at their 2003 trial that prison officials intercepted telephone calls and letters between the inmates and their mothers, alerting them to the escape plans.

Westmoreland County Prison, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania
March 3, 2006 Tribune-Review
A federal judge has ruled against Westmoreland County and a company previously hired to run the local jail in a lawsuit filed by the family of a Sewickley Township man who committed suicide while behind bars in 2003. The ruling means the lawsuit can go forward. Westmoreland County, Cornell Companies Inc. and NaphCare Inc. had asked U.S. District Court Judge William L. Standish to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed last year by Renee L. Wright, who contends the county and prison officials acted recklessly by not preventing the April 18, 2003, suicide of her brother, Robert R. Steadman. Steadman, 33, hanged himself in his cell four days after he was incarcerated for failing to make a payment as ordered by a family court judge. Prison officials kept him in a regular cell even though he had been put on suicide watch during a previous jail stint four months earlier. In the lawsuit, his family contends that county and prison officials should have placed Steadman on suicide watch in a special unit with enhanced surveillance during his incarceration in April because he had been deemed a suicide risk only months before. The Steadman suicide was one of several at the county jail in recent years. The lawsuit cites three other inmate suicides that occurred between 2000 and 2003. A fourth inmate took his own life in 2004. In the aftermath of the Steadman case, the county cited financial reasons for replacing Cornell, took over management of the prison, and revised its policy regarding how it deals with potential suicide risks.

July 15, 2005
A former inmate at the Westmoreland County Prison claims in a federal lawsuit that he needs a liver transplant because of substandard medical care he received while an inmate there. Harvey C. Roupe Jr., 45, who now lives in Washington, Washington County, alleges in a civil rights complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh that repeated pleas to prison and county officials for permission to continue special treatments he needed for a pre-existing liver disease and hepatitis C in 2002 and 2003 were ignored. Roupe claims his right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was violated. Listed as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, are Westmoreland County; the prison; Cornell Corrections Inc., the private company that formerly operated the prison; the prison's former warden, Michael Millward; and Cornell's former medical supervisor, William Nicholson. Lisa Tauser, of Houston-based Cornell Corrections, said it is the company's policy not to comment on pending litigation. After a two-year contract with Cornell to operate the prison expired in May 2003, county commissioners decided to return to an in-house warden system to save money.  

Three days after suddenly ending his sex assault trial with a guilty plea, 32-year-old Marc Filippino ended his life Monday morning at Westmoreland County Prison. Filippino, formerly of Monroeville, faced a seven- to 20-year prison term for rape and assault. Deputy Coroner Joe Musgrove said Filippino was seen alive at a 7 a.m. security check at the prison. Another inmate spotted his body hanging in his one-man cell five minutes later. "He knotted his shoelaces and affixed them to an air register above the sink ... a good seven feet up. He put that around his neck and asphyxiated himself," the coroner said. Filippino was declared dead at 8:08 a.m. County detectives and the coroner are investigating, Musgrove said. The hanging was the fifth suicide at the Westmoreland County facility since 2001. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 5, 2003)

A 33-year-old inmate used his shoelaces to hang himself at the Westmoreland County Prison early Friday morning. Robert R. Steadman, of Hutchinson, had been in the county lockup since April 14 on charges related to a domestic dispute. It was the second hanging death this year at the prison in Hempfield Township. (Tribune-Review, April 21, 2003)

Westmoreland County wants to hire a warden to run its prison again. The county fired its own warden and hired Cornell Corrections of Houston, Texas, to run the county prison two years ago after a scandal that involved inmates selling drugs with the help of some guards. Yesterday, two of the county commissioners said the county will not sign a new pact with Cornell, whose current contract will expire May 31. Instead, the county will advertise this weekend for a new warden. Commissioners Tom Balya and Tom Ceraso said the decision was made for financial reasons. "If we can save $200,000 in the management of the prison, I think we're going to take that step," Balya said. Ceraso, chairman of the county prison board, said it was not necessary to take any formal action because the Cornell contract will expire automatically. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 18, 2003)

Two Westmoreland County commissioners said Monday that the company hired last year to run the jail is not making enough money and should be replaced. Tom Ceraso and P. Scott Conner said the experiment of converting the prison to private management while keeping it a publicly owned facility has failed. "We haven't made any money," Ceraso said. Cornell Corrections Inc., a Houston-based, publicly traded company, was hired in May 2001 to run the prison for $360,000 a year and to provide a warden and deputy warden. As part of the deal, Cornell was given permission to add one bed to each of the 40 cells that would then be leased to other counties and the federal government. Money generated from the leases would be paid to the county and cover the cost of Cornell's contract. The county was expected to be paid about $400,000 for the leased beds, while Cornell estimated it would earn about $250,000. (Tribune-Review, October 8, 2002)

Whittier, Alaska
August 12, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who made his fortune off private halfway houses in Alaska, pleaded guilty Monday to two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won. Weimar had a long-standing relationship with the candidate running in the 2004 primary, a charging document filed Monday said. Weimar held a "contingent interest" in a private prison project worth $5.5 million, but only if the project was completed, the charges say. He faces prison time in the plea deal and may have to forfeit "certain property." Prosecutors estimate a sentence of 10 to 16 months. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick isn't bound to that. He set sentencing for Oct. 29. Weimar, who owned Allvest Inc., becomes the 11th person charged in the broad, ongoing investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice into political corruption in Alaska. Weimar, 68, now lives in Big Arm, Mont. At the brief hearing on Monday, Weimar answered the judge's routine questions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini outlined the two charges: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and illegally manipulating currency transactions to avoid reporting them to the Treasury Department. Weimar has admitted paying the consultant a total of $20,000 during the primary in August 2004 to cover expenses for the candidate, without reporting the payments and without routing them through the campaign. How do you plead? Sedwick asked. "Guilty," Weimar answered, to each charge. LAWMAKER NOT NAMED -- For years, Weimar pushed plans for a private prison in Alaska, but the project was always controversial and no prison was ever built. A Democratic activist in the 1970s, Weimar later became close to the Republicans who controlled the Alaska Legislature. Neither the Senate candidate nor the consultant -- both accused of conspiring with Weimar -- is named in the charging document. Prosecutors declined to expand on it Monday. But the candidate described in the documents, and in court Monday, appears to be former state Sen. Jerry Ward. He didn't return phone calls or e-mail messages on Monday. Ward, a Republican elected from Anchorage in 1996 and the Kenai Peninsula in 2000, fervently pushed private prison projects as a legislator. The charging document says the candidate running in 2004 had a long relationship with Weimar, and held elected office part of that time. Ward and Weimar were "buddies," according to a statement that former lobbyist Bill Bobrick, who worked for Weimar, gave to the FBI in September 2006. Bobrick also has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation. He declined to comment on Monday. In 1997, a plan for a private prison in South Anchorage with Allvest and Veco Corp. as partners crumbled under strong public opposition. As that project evaporated, Ward emerged as the lead architect of a new plan to build private prisons in the Mat-Su and Seward. "By God, this really solves the problem," Weimar was quoted as saying at the time. In 2001, Ward signed on as the only Senate sponsor of a House bill pushing a private prison on the Kenai. The charging document against Weimar doesn't say whether the candidate won in 2004 and does not call the person a legislator. Ward lost his seat in 2002 to Tom Wagoner. He was trying to regain it in 2004, but lost in the Republican primary to Wagoner. SEATTLE CONSULTANT -- In court Monday, Bottini told the judge the consultant was from Seattle. Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash. Numerous calls left for Madison principal Brett Bader on Monday were not returned. The charges against Weimar and other court documents quote details of a number of telephone conversations he had with the consultant and the candidate from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2004. In a telephone conversation on Aug. 17, 2004, the consultant told Weimar that the campaign was having money trouble, court documents say. "I'm worried we're reaching the limit now. I don't know where we find 10 grand unless (Candidate A) can get more in," the consultant said "There's no legal way to do that. At least not on that scale," Weimar responded. Later that day, Weimar arranged to cover the next advertising mailer for the candidate, and told the candidate so, the document says. On Aug. 20, 2004, Weimar told the candidate of an unpaid invoice of $20,000 with the consultant. The candidate's campaign funds were depleted, the charges say. The candidate said he had only $300 to $400 left in his account. On Aug. 23, 2004, Weimar made arrangements with the consultant to pay off the debt, the charges say. He then called the candidate and told him "he would not be receiving any further bills from Consultant A," the charging document says. Weimar sent the consulting company a $3,000 check on Aug. 23, 2004, then sent $8,500 in cash that same day by express mail, and another $8,500 cash the day after, the charges say. "WE'VE MOVED ON" -- The charges also do not name the private prison company, but Cornell Corrections Inc. tried to build a prison in various Alaska communities, including Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The charging document describes the unnamed company's Alaska interests as halfway houses, a planned juvenile treatment center, and a private prison project, and that matches Cornell's interests. In 1998, in the midst of planning for a private prison in Delta Junction, Weimar sold five Alaska halfway houses to Cornell for $21 million. He also formed a partnership with Cornell to pursue the Delta prison and subsequent deals for a private facility. One goal of the conspiracy was to get the private prison company to give campaign contributions to the candidate to help win election, according to the charges. A spokesman for Cornell said the company was unaware of the charges but supports the prosecution. The executives now in charge of Cornell weren't there at the time of the events that involved Weimar, spokesman Charles Seigel said Monday. Company records don't show any evidence of wrongdoing, he added. "We've moved on and we are very different and have it behind us," Seigel said. Cornell also has not pursued a private prison in Alaska for years and is no longer interested in that, he said. "We're glad this investigation is going on but whatever was going on or may have been going on in the past, that is not the Cornell that exists now, both in the policy on the private prison as we've talked about and in general about the way we do business." By 2004, Veco was no longer involved in the prison project, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, Cornell consultant and FBI informant, has said. ANDERSON INVOLVED -- The failed private prison effort was also central in the government's case against former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, now in prison. At Anderson's corruption trial last summer, Prewitt was a key witness who testified at length about his undercover work to collect evidence against Anderson, and also about questionable acts in his own past. From the witness stand, Prewitt said that in 1994 -- when he was corrections commissioner and Weimar owned Allvest -- he accepted $30,000 from Weimar. Prewitt testified that he considered the money a loan, which he repaid the next year, after he left his state post, by working four months for Allvest for free. Weimar helped start Allvest in 1985, then bought out his partners and turned it into a multimillion dollar corporation with operations in Alaska and Washington state. Its government contracts were worth an estimated $10 million a year. Allvest also operated a lab that did contract urinalysis work, and used to run the city's Animal Control Center and the Community Service Patrol. In 2002, Allvest was forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid judgments in civil suits against the company. The bankruptcy case eventually was settled.

October 9, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
When FBI agents searched the Wasilla office of Rep. Vic Kohring on Aug. 31, they weren't just looking for documents related to Veco Corp., its executives and ties to lawmakers. They also wanted information about developer Marc Marlow as well as the state Department of Corrections. That element of the ongoing FBI investigation emerged last week when Kohring's attorney, Wayne Anthony Ross, provided a copy of the search warrant to the Daily News, along with the list of items taken. Those documents, though lacking detail or context, suggest that the probe is wide-ranging and not focused on any one company, issue or individual. No one has been charged in the investigation, and federal authorities have declined to discuss it except to say that it continues. The lead prosecutors are from the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., which often handles government corruption cases. In all, offices of six lawmakers have been searched, along with Veco offices and additional undisclosed locations. Other lawmakers whose offices weren't searched have said they were interviewed by the FBI. The warrant also sought all correspondence between Kohring and the Alaska Department of Corrections. Ross said Kohring was questioned by the FBI about efforts to build a private prison in Whittier. "He indicated it was a facility that Cornell was hoping to build in the past and that's apparently all they asked about that," Ross said. Cornell Cos. had teamed with Veco in the private prison endeavor, which ultimately died last year after the city of Whittier dropped its support. Along with those of Kohring and Stevens, FBI agents searched offices of Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage; Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome; Rep. Pete Kott, R-Eagle River; and Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R- Juneau. Messages left for them were not returned. Kohring is the only one of the six still facing an election battle in November. Kott lost in the primary, Stevens and Weyhrauch aren't running again and the others aren't up this year. What's known: • Dozens of FBI agents executed about two dozen search warrants Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, though in some cases individuals agreed to the search. • Six legislative offices were searched, and so was Veco Corp. Searches were conducted in Anchorage, Juneau, Eagle River, Wasilla, Willow and Girdwood. The office of Senate President Ben Stevens was then searched a second time, on Sept. 18. • One search warrant, provided by Sen. Donny Olson, said the FBI was looking for "any and all documents" related to Veco, four of its executives and two political pollsters, as well as information on Olson Air Service, among other matters. When agents searched Stevens' office, they seized materials related to controversial fisheries organizations. In the search of Rep. Vic Kohring's office, agents also sought information on developer Marc Marlow and on the state Department of Corrections. • The lead prosecutors on the case are from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., which handles public corruption cases. • No one has been charged. What's not known: • Perhaps the biggest of the many unanswered questions is this: Who or what is being targeted? • Authorities also won't say how many FBI agents or prosecutors are working on the investigation, when it began, when it might end or how they are proceeding.

September 7, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
For two decades, oil man and political financier Bill Allen has been a familiar presence in the halls of the Alaska Capitol. But toward the end of this year's regular legislative session, the Veco chief executive may have taken that familiarity a step too far. Allen was watching the state House debate oil taxes on the next-to-last night of business in May when he began passing notes to legislators across the railing of the small spectator gallery, according to Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage. Rules say the public can pass notes through the front door to be delivered by a page. Direct engagement from the visitor gallery is forbidden once the speaker's gavel sounds. Crawford said he saw Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, carry several notes from Allen to other legislators. Anderson has received Veco campaign contributions and has also reported $30,000 in consulting contracts with the company since 2003. Several other legislators say their staff observed similar goings-on. "He was definitely directing traffic back there," Crawford said of Allen. Veco's role in Alaska's political process is under intense scrutiny now. Last week the FBI served search warrants on legislative offices and others seeking a wide range of information related to Allen and other Veco executives, including gifts to public officials. But much of Veco's influence, dating from the early 1980s, comes from sources in plain sight. This includes close to $1 million in state and federal campaign contributions over the past decade as well as consulting contracts with individual legislators. Veco's presence in Juneau is distinctive not just for its role in helping finance many campaigns but for the personal role played by Allen and several other company executives. Veco has hired top-drawer professional lobbyists in the past, as it did while pushing for a private prison between 1996 and 2002. But Allen, 69, is known for taking a personal hand in promoting his priorities, in a manner often described as gentlemanly rather than bullying. In 1996, the Legislature added a new twist -- anyone registering as a lobbyist was barred from giving campaign contributions outside his or her home district. The idea was to prevent favor-seeking lobbyists from working a building full of people they'd given money to. Allen spent a lot of time in the Capitol in 2002, pressing the Legislature to pay for a private prison in Whittier (Veco was teamed with a national prison company, Cornell, to build the project) and to authorize a property tax break for construction of a North Slope natural gas pipeline. Allen was in the Capitol so much that APOC ordered him to register as a lobbyist. Allen protested, saying business owners looking out for their own interests should not be treated like professional lobbyists who represent a variety of clients. Allen eventually complied, registering for 2002 and 2003 and reporting his hourly wage as $156.25. That meant he had to forgo writing campaign checks in those years. (Not that candidates were starved for Veco money: Other company officials gave more than $200,000 to state candidates in 2002 alone.)

March 30, 2005 Anchorage Daily News
The city of Whittier is cutting its ties to Cornell Cos., a private corrections operator, finally ending a political battle over new prisons that has held Alaska in gridlock for a decade. The Whittier City Council voted 5-1 last week to drop its three-year effort to win state money for a huge, privately run prison in the isolated port town. A Cornell spokeswoman said that's the end of the line for the Houston-based corrections company. At this point we're not going to be pursuing anything," Cornell communications director Lisa Tauser said. "We're disappointed but we respect their decision." Private prison advocates have been wielding influence in Juneau since 1995, as proposals for private correctional facilities in Anchorage, Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier found favor among legislators. Two prison deals were approved, and two others made it through the state House. Competing proposals to build state-run facilities were pushed aside. But each private plan eventually died, falling victim to local opposition, resistance from correction-worker unions and skepticism from some state officials. Lurking around each successive plan were complaints about backroom dealing. "What I see, over and over, is repeated sole-source, prearranged, heavy-money deals that go to specific contractors," Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, complained in a hearing last year. "It's never been a clean competitive proposal." History of private prisons in Alaska Plans to build the first private prison in Alaska have set off controversy in recent years: • APRIL 1997: Corrections Group North, a partnership between halfway house operator Allvest and oil field service company Veco, withdraws plans for controversial 768-bed medium-security prison in South Anchorage. Project is scrapped days before city voters reject the plan by a 2-to-1 margin. • JANUARY 1998: Voters in Delta Junction approve plan by Allvest to build 800-bed prison on former Fort Greely Army post. • AUGUST 1998: National prison company Cornell Corrections Inc. buys Allvest for $21 million. • SEPTEMBER 1999: Delta Junction City Council repeals contract with Cornell/Allvest. • OCTOBER 2001: Voters on the Kenai Peninsula defeat a proposal, backed by Cornell, for an 800-bed private prison by a 3-to-1 margin. • MAY 2002: Plan allowing private prison in Whittier, proposed by Cornell, passes House and stalls in Senate during Legislature's closing days.• March 2005: City of Whittier cuts ties to Cornell, and company says it has no plans to pursue a private prison in the state.

May 23, 2002
Plans to build a big private prison in Alaska are dead again.  But private-prison backers say they're willing to try again next year, depending on how things go in the November election. This year's plan for a 1,000-bed prison in Whittier, the fourth such idea to hit the Legislature since 1996, passed the House but stalled in the Senate in the session's final days.  The Legislature did clear up a lingering headache from one of those earlier private prison proposals. Lawmakers agreed in the closing days to give a $1 million no-interest loan to the city of Delta Junction to pay off a legal settlement with Allvest Corp., the private firm that once had teamed with Delta to develop a prison for the state.  But the Knowles administration -- and several key legislators -- preferred an alternative this year that would expand regional prisons and jails. The administration's resistance toughened in the closing days of the session, when Corrections Commissioner Margaret Pugh issued a letter recommending a veto of the Whittier bill.  Cornell will still follow the local debate and continue to run six Alaska halfway houses, said company spokesman Doucette.  Delta Junction is glad to have the $1 million loan, given that the legal settlement was due July 1, said city administrator Pete Hallgren. He said the city has already undertaken a study of forming a local borough, in part as a response to a flood of federal money now reaching the area as part of the national missile defense project being built at nearby Fort Greely.  The former Army post was to have been the site of the private prison. Delta Junction backed out of the deal with Allvest, the principal company in the Delta Correction Group, amid local controversy over a lack of competitive bidding. Allvest sued and won a settlement from the city.  (Anchorage Daily News)

May 21, 2002
Private prison bill Special session resurrection should stay in committee House Bill 498, authorizing a private 1,000-plus-bed prison in Whittier, has come to life again as Senate Bill 2012 in the current special session of the Alaska Legislature.   SB 2012 has been referred to the Rules Committee and then the Finance Committee. If the goal of senators is to further explore the pros and cons -- forgive the pun -- of a private prison in Alaska, fair enough. But that's as far as this legislation should go. As of Monday, lawmakers already were deep into overtime trying to finish their work. And there's still the matter of a special session to consider a constitutional amendment on subsistence.   This is no time to push for a private prison in Alaska.   Whether it's called HB 498 or SB 2012, this bill and previous attempts at private prison projects have been exercises in special interests. The need to increase Alaska's prison capacity is clear, with an inmate population growing by 200 a year, but neither special interests nor the desires of Whittier to boost its economy are reason to rush to approve a private prison -- particularly as a byproduct in a special session.   The burden of proof must be on the backers of a private prison to show why their proposal is beneficial to Alaska beyond the interests of a relatively small group of people who would stand to profit.   They haven't made a convincing case so far, and it won't happen in the waning hours of this session.  (Anchorage Daily News)

May 13, 2002
The Senate Finance Committee on Sunday night approved a bill for a private prison in Whittier.  With just two days left in the regular session, the legislature faced a logjam of bills this morning, from the routine to the historic.  A bill authorizing a government-owned, privately operated 1,000-bed prison in Whittier was approved by the Finance Committee 6-3.  The city would contract with the state, and Cornell Cos. Inc. would contract with the city.  But the Knowles administration favors a more regional approach to increasing jail capacity, said Margot Knuth of the Department of Corrections.  For example, 100 more beds each are needed in Fairbanks and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Knuth said.  "What you need are regional beds where inmates who are pre-trial or who have short sentences can stay."  (The Juneau Empire)

May 13, 2002
House Bill 498 to authorize a private 1,200-bed prison in Whittier appears stuck in the Senate Finance Committee.  Alaska will be better off if it dies there.  Whittier's desire for economic life beyond tourism, boating and its status as a unique light at the end of the tunnel is understandable.  But the state's primary interest is not Whittier's development.  It's the integrity, professionalism and security of its corrections system.  Private prison plans have gotten the boot twice before in Alaska, and legislation for them has been an exercise in special interests looking for a home.  Neither special interests nor the desires of one community are reason enough to approve a private prison.  The need to increase prison capacity is clear.  But HB 498 is not the way to do it.  (Anchorage Daily News) 

May 9, 2002
Last Saturday, a line of just over a dozen cars paid $15 to drive single-file through the Whittier tunnel.  Whittier’s bane used to be its inaccessibility. Now it’s the tunnel.  But if the momentum in the state legislature continues, what Whittier may soon have instead is a 1,000-bed prison, the largest in the state – so big that it would dwarf Whittier’s scant population. The prison would be owned by Whittier, built by Veco Construction, and run by Cornell Companies, a private, for-profit prison firm.  Cornell, whose finances the Wall Street Journal recently likened to Enron’s, has been down this road before. The company tried to build a private prison in South Anchorage, Delta Junction and Kenai before coming to Whittier. All of its previous efforts failed, as well as its overtures to Wrangell and Ketchikan, at least in part because, given a say, a lot of residents weren’t thrilled about having a big private prison in their backyards, even in a big backyard. Mayor Ben Butler says that’s not a problem in Whittier. Cornell Companies, his erstwhile partner, says the solution is simple: just don’t give people a say.   About 670 Alaskans are currently incarcerated in a private prison in Florence, Arizona. If nothing else, the Whittier proposal would bring them home – although, says Rep. Eric Croft, "Whittier is almost as remote as Arizona."   Cornell and Veco are lobbying heavily for a private prison in Whittier. To that end, they’ve retained Kent Dawson, Mark Higgins and Joe Hayes, heavy hitters in the capitol. The Whittier bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Eldon Mulder, the house finance chair. Mulder’s wife, Wendy, works for Hayes. Croft, who’s against the Whittier project, says he finds that "disturbing" and "almost beautiful in a corrupt sort of way."   People from Anchorage and Girdwood will come to Whittier for $13-an-hour jobs, said Cornell spokesman Paul Doucette. And if that doesn’t work, Doucette says they can hire from Outside. Not likely, says Louise Green. She’s the vice president for marketing at Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s biggest private prison contractor, which runs the private prison where Alaska inmates are housed in Arizona. "They definitely won’t be bringing people up from the Lower 48 to live in Whittier," Green said. Staffing is just one hurdle. Management and Training Corporation (MTC), another leading private prison contractor, didn’t bid on the Whittier project because they thought the site was inadequate. Both MTC marketing manager Mike Murphy and CCA senior director of business development Kevin Ashburn said that the first things private prison contractors look for is an adequate pool of potential employees, and infrastructure: water supply, sewer systems, and nearby health and fire facilities. Whittier has none of that, says state Department of Corrections strategic planning coordinator Margot Knuth. "Of all of the proposals I’ve seen, this is the worst," she said at recent state senate hearing. "It requires a level of sophistication that Whittier doesn’t have. It worries me and it should worry you. We could have a hundred-million-dollar embarrassment on our hands."  The way to prevent that is a feasibility study, says CCA’s Ashburn. Cornell, said Ashburn, has "probably done a feasibility study. I’m sure they would have. That should come first."   No, said Cornell’s Doucette: No feasibility study.  But having a relatively uniformed, or quiescent, citizenry seems to be part of Cornell’s plan. When Cornell was courting Ketchikan, Frank Prewitt, a Cornell executive, and former Alaska DOC commissioner, sent an email to Ketchikan real estate agents telling them how to expedite the prison proposal. They needed to "select a local government entity that is legally able, and politically willing, to sell revenue bonds without a public vote," Prewitt wrote.  Under the current plan, Whittier will sell revenue bonds to help finance the private prison. Will the people of Whittier vote on that?   No, says Butler. "It’s not a requirement," he said. "Because it’s not going to cost the citizens of Whittier anything."  (The Anchorage Press)

April 30, 2002
A bill clearing the way for a 1,000-bed private prison in Whittier was passed in the House on Monday.  The House voted 24-14 for the measure, which calls for the state to contract with the city of Whittier to house state inmates.  Whittier would contract with Cornell Cos. Inc. to build and operate the prison.  Opponents said Whittier won't be easy for rural residents to visit.  If the concern is rehabilitation, they said, inmates should be brought home to prisons nearer their own communities.  This is the fourth time a private prison proposal has come up in the Legislature.  Previous efforts, including one in Kenai last year, were derailed by community opposition.  Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, objected to the sole-source selection process.  He said he has seen four private prison proposals since 1996, with different justifications each time.  But each time it involved the same private prison company, he said, "with the same powerful, influential people pushing it."  "This is not about privatization.  This is about getting a lot of money to one entity," Croft said.  "We wouldn't do this buying 1,000 pencils.  But we're going to do it with hundreds of millions of dollars."  (Anchorage Daily News) 

April 17, 2002
A bill calling for a private prison to be built in Whittier now also calls for expanding a public prison in Bethel. The measure passed the House Finance Committee on Tuesday. The change could broaden support for the bill, although the administration and some legislators still don't like it. The bill's chief backer, Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez, said he added the 96-bed expansion at Bethel because that seemed to be the highest priority for the Department of Corrections.  Lawmakers are looking at several competing prison proposals. Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, is sponsoring a bill that would have 11 cities and boroughs float $190 million in bonds to build or expand prisons and lease them to the state. The state would pay $72 million annually to operate the prisons and make lease payments to the communities.   The Knowles administration proposes to sell $117 million bonds to add 563 beds to prisons in Palmer, Bethel, Fairbanks and Seward and design future prison expansions. The Department of Corrections has opposed the private prison bill. Language stating that the Legislature intends to spend no more than $89 to $91 a day on the Whittier prison is not binding, and the actual cost could be higher, Knuth has said.  (Anchorage Daily News)

March 26, 2002
The Alaska Legislature has repeatedly tried to open the door for profit-making prisons in the state. Each time prison industry lobbyists have persuaded state lawmakers to give the idea a whirl, local opposition has stymied the project.   The private prison industry refuses to give up, though. And it has a powerful patron in House Finance Committee Chair Eldon Mulder, whose wife works for a prison industry lobbyist.  Privatizing an important public safety function like prisons makes no more sense than hiring Pinkerton security guards to replace state troopers. A private outfit can undercut the price of a state-run prison or state cops, but the lower cost is made possible by our settling for lower quality and less professionalism.  Alaska definitely needs more space in its jails and prisons. It's an embarrassment to have to send 800 inmates thousands of miles away to a private prison in another state. The Legislature ought to give up its obsession with building a private megaprison and support a more practical regional expansion plan.  (Anchorage Daily News/Opinion)

March 6, 2002
A House committee looked at a plan Tuesday to build a large private prison in Whittier, while a Senate committee took up a competing proposal to expand state-run prisons around the state.   Frank Prewitt, a consultant for Cornell Companies, said that firm's proposal for a 1,200-bed private prison in Whittier would cost $44 a day less than a Knowles' administration plan to expand existing prisons and jails.  Administration officials said they're not sure Prewitt used the right variables in comparing state and private proposals, but they could not be certain without further analyzing his numbers.  Marvin Wiebe, senior vice president for governmental affairs at Cornell Companies, said the firm can do the job for less than the state partly by providing less space for prisoners and paying employees less.   Also, it's more economical to put 1,200 prisoners in one place than to add space to prisons around the state, Wiebe said.   Compensation, including benefits, will total $36,000 for a beginning correctional officer with no experience, Wiebe said.   The state, by contrast, pays its beginning correctional officers about $48,400 with benefits, said Bruce Richards, a special assistant in the Corrections Department.   This is the third time the Legislature has considered a private prison. It approved previous proposals for private prisons in Delta Junction and then in Kenai, but both fell apart in the face of community opposition.  The Senate State Affairs Committee took its first look Tuesday at an alternative proposal, Senate Bill 336. The Knowles administration bill calls for floating a $117 million bond to add 563 beds to prisons in Palmer, Bethel, Fairbanks and Seward and design future prison expansions.  "I think it's a wise use of state funds," said Steve Sweet of Fairbanks. "I think it's important for family members to be close to inmates for visitation rights."  (Anchorage Daily News)

January 24, 2002
Frank Prewitt neglected to list his full credentials in his bio following his Jan. 22 article in the Empire. If a used car salesman did what Frank Prewitt just did, he would be fired for his lack of ethics. Yes, Cornell salesman Frank Prewitt, the "former commissioner for the Department of Corrections" who was fired from that post by Gov. Walter Hickel, neglected to say that he is much more than a former commissioner and "practicing attorney" in Anchorage. Mr. Prewitt is a full-time employee of one of the largest campaign contributors in Alaska, Cornell Corrections.  (Bill Rogers/The Public Safety Employees Association)

January 14, 2002
The seeds of Alaska's first private prison may have found fertile soil in the economically barren city of Whittier.   On Dec. 21, a 6-0 vote by Whittier's city council selected Cornell Cos., based in Houston to plan, promote, design, construct and operate a minimum 800-bed medium security correctional facility. Not selected was Corrections Corp. of America, which operates a facility in Florence, Ariz., where about 800 Alaska prisoners are incarcerated because of a shortage of bed space in Alaska prisons.   Whittier's interest in a private prison came after 73 percent of Kenai Peninsula Borough voters gave the Cornell-led project the cold shoulder Oct. 2.   "We thought that was about as strange as it could be," Whittier Mayor Ben Butler said. "So we thought Whittier should give it a try, and we started the process."   He said Whittier views the prison as a way to save a "dying community."   "We are not trying to debate the philosophical reasons between a private- and a state-operated prison," Butler said. "What we're trying to do is get some economic development going in this town."   Paul Doucette, Cornell's public relations spokesperson in Houston, said Cornell stood ready to work with Whittier. He described the project as a 1,200-bed medium security prison, larger than the 800-bed facility approved by the Whittier council.   Despite voting for the partnership with Cornell, Whittier city council member Arlen Arneson doesn't support the project.   "The majority of (Whittier) people won't 'fess up to it, but 60 to 70 percent of them are against the prison, too," he said. "The simple reason is that the ordinance was written to exclude a public vote. ...   There's no public vote. Not even an advisory vote."   Arneson also voiced concern over lack of a feasibility study.   However, Butler said, "We don't have any problems with thinking the prison isn't feasible. The contractor will do a site evaluation and that will be a feasibility study."   In 1998, the Legislature authorized the creation of a private prison by the city of Delta Junction at abandoned U.S. Army facilities at Fort Greely. Corrections Group North, formed by Cornell and Weimar Investments, worked with Delta Junction on that project. Pete Hallgren, the executive director of Delta Junction's department of economic development and the city administrator, said a $75,000 feasibility study "indicated that there wasn't anywhere near enough money appropriated under the enabling legislation to make it financially feasible."   Constructing the private prison was not pursued, lawsuits were filed, and Hallgren said, "We came out of the project defending against a lawsuit by the proposed prison operator. We ended up settling the case for $1.1 million."   Delta Junction has paid $100,000. The remaining $1 million is due July 1.   "It's more money than we've got," Hallgren said.   Jeff Sinz, finance director of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, said the borough invested $75,000 in the project that was ultimately rejected by voters.  (Alaska Daily News)

November 15, 2001
Whittier would seem to be ahead of Ketchikan and Wrangell as the three towns vie for a possible private prison development that would house 800 Alaskans now incarcerated out of state.  Frank Prewitt, a consultant for the Texas-based Cornell Companies Inc., wrote last month that Ketchikan political leaders must act quickly to promote a private prison project and sell revenue bonds without a public vote.  (Daily News)

Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center, Central Falls, Rhode Island
October 25, 2011 AP
The management company that formerly ran a Rhode Island prison is suing the facility's governing body, saying it is owed more than $671,000, according to a complaint filed in federal court. In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Providence, Cornell Corrections of Rhode Island, Inc. says the corporation running the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls still owes money it agreed to pay the firm in 2008. The prison is run by the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation, a quasi-public agency. Cornell Corrections operated Wyatt from its opening in 1993 to July 31, 2007, when the corporation took over, according to a 2009 report on the facility. Cornell Corrections says it reached a deal in 2008 with the corporation over the amount of money it was owed under an earlier agreement. The lawsuit says Wyatt's governing board still hasn't paid. The suit seeks $671,808, plus interest, costs and attorneys' fees. The corporation stopped making full payments to Cornell Corrections in 2006, according to a report released last month by former R.I. Auditor General Ernest A. Almonte. As of August 2007, the corporation owed Cornell Corrections more than $3.9 million, Almonte's report found. The 776-bed facility houses medium- and maximum-security federal detainees awaiting trial or transfer to federal Bureau of Prisons facilities. It lost a contract to house federal immigration detainees after one died in its custody in 2008. The jail has been beset by financial problems in recent years, having lost $6.2 million and taken on $3.5 million in additional debt from 2007 to 2009, Almonte's report said. The city of Central Falls once banked on revenue from the prison, but hasn't been paid in three years. The city filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Attorneys for Cornell Corrections and the corporation did not immediately return messages on Tuesday.

September 1, 2010 Smart Money
Owners of municipal bonds issued to pay for jails might not get to pass Go--and could have trouble collecting interest payments as well. These tax free bonds don't have a monopoly on defaults, but they're well represented among failures and troubled issues among the more speculative classes of municipal bonds. Data from Municipal Market Advisors reveals a slew of tax-free bonds issued to fund construction of privately run prisons and detention facilities in states from Texas to Rhode Island to Montana. The most recent example is Littlefield, a West Texas town of about 6,500 people. Located between the New Mexico border and Buddy Holly's hometown of Lubbock, Littlefield had to dip into reserves to cover payments for about $1.2 in bonds and other debt used to finance the Bill Clayton Detention Center. The bonds were issued in 2000, but the expected revenue stream evaporated when, after a prisoner suicide in 2008, the 310-bed private prison lost its contract to house out-of-state inmates. In 2009, the Geo Group (GEO), formerly known as Wackenhut Security, ended its operating agreement with the detention center, leaving it unoccupied. In April, Fitch Ratings, which in 2009 lowered the bonds to BB from BBB, affirmed a negative rating outlook. Littlefield city manager Danny Davis says the city is scrambling to avoid default on the $780,000 worth of annual payments and plans to cut police and fire service while dramatically raising property taxes when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The property could be sold or could be taken over by the state, though neither option is certain. "It's going to be difficult," he says. "In the meantime, we're just trying to keep our heads above water until we get to a solution." Bob Libal is the Texas campaign coordinator for Grassroots Leadership, a lobbying group which opposes for-profit prisons, and the editor of the blog Texas Prison Bid'ness. He says many small towns agree to build "speculative prisons" to be run by private contractors using municipal bond financing but that many of these projects in a post-Sept. 11 boom have had trouble. Libal criticizes the development groups that get paid up front for building detention centers thus saddling the bond-issuers (usually special public facilities corporations created solely for those projects) with risky debt. "They go after a lot of towns without a lot of sophistication and resources to do the due diligence," Libal says. "If they let the bonds go under, it's very difficult for them to issue any more debt." Matt Fabian, director of research at Municipal Market Advisors, cites similar bond woes in Central Falls, R.I.; Hardin, Mont.; and Baker County, Fla., where about $105 million in total debt has run into trouble because the prison projects haven't worked out as expected. "The incarceration rates drives speculation," he says. "There's an idea that you can profit from this prison trend." Investors in these increasingly-insecure jail bonds have certainly had to assume more risk, even though they get higher yields. The $99 million Central Falls Detention Facility bond issue of 2005 entered technical default in 2009 when it drew on its reserves to make payments. The bonds, issued at par with a yield of 7.25%, last traded at the end of 2009 at 85.3 cents to the dollar, with a yield of 8.69%. Municipal revenue bonds issued in 2002 that funded the West Alabama Youth Services detention facility defaulted in 2005. The bonds last traded in February at 9 cents to the dollar with a yield of 73.6%. Fabian says some of the biggest private prison busts are unlikely to have simple resolutions. A shopping center is easy to repurpose; a detention center is not. "It's hard to restructure," he says. "Even the land underneath a prison isn't worth as much as it was." Even with a resurgent effort by the private prison industry to use their facilities to detain illegal immigrants and an attempt by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to overhaul detention procedures, problems persist. The Baker Correctional Development Corporation, created to finance a correctional facility and immigration detention center west of Jacksonville, Fla., dipped into reserves for its August payment to holders of bonds issued in 2008. With those bonds trading last at 71.25 cents to the dollar with a yield of 20.73%, investors looking to lock up their money should probably seek less risky types of municipal bonds.

November 11, 2009 AP
The widow of a Chinese immigrant wants the federal government to remain a defendant in her lawsuit over the death her husband, who was detained at a Rhode Island jail. Hiu Lui Ng died of liver cancer in August 2008 while he was being held for overstaying a visa. Investigators say he was abused and denied medical care at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls . The private jail contracted with the federal government to house immigration detainees. The government has asked to be dismissed from the case, saying Wyatt staff were private contactors and not government employees. But lawyers for Ng's widow say federal immigration authorities failed to act even after it became clear that Ng was being seriously mistreated.

July 30, 2009 The Providence Journal
A former employee at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility has agreed to plead guilty to a charge that he lied to federal investigators about having sexual contact with an immigrant detainee in the jail’s infirmary. Glenn Rivera-Barnes, a medical technician, allegedly tried to falsely convince the investigators that the detainee sexually assaulted him when there was no evidence that it ever happened. Instead, officers from the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and U.S. Marshals Service had DNA samples proving that Rivera-Barnes initiated the sexual conduct with the detainee on May 11 and May 24, 2008. In exchange for the guilty plea, filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, federal prosecutors have recommended that Rivera-Barnes serve a one-year sentence in home confinement with an electronic bracelet attached to his ankle. Rivera-Barnes and the victim are both men. “Clearly, Mr. Rivera-Barnes’ conduct was deplorable,” said Bill Fischer, the jail’s spokesman. “His conduct is not becoming of the type of employee that we want at Wyatt.” He credited the jail’s Professional Standards Unit and the Rhode Island State Police for their work on tracking the DNA evidence. The state police took custody of the DNA samples and delivered them to the state Department of Health lab in Providence. The jail’s Professional Standards Unit launched its investigation in the spring of 2008 after the detainee, identified only as M.P.A., claimed that Rivera-Barnes had unwanted sexual contact with him in the jail. On July 15, 2008, he was placed on unpaid administrative leave and the internal investigative team referred the case to the federal authorities. Bill Fischer, Wyatt’s spokesman, said that Rivera-Barnes was fired on Jan. 21. It’s a crime to lie to a federal investigator and punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. No such penalty exists for lying to a local or state police officer. In March, The Journal first reported about the investigation and the jail’s warden, Wayne T. Salisbury Jr., issued a news release that said the jail first learned of “a serious allegation” in the spring of 2008 involving a staff member and “two detainees.” He pointed out that the staff member, now identified as Rivera-Barnes, was hired on June 28, 2007, by Cornell Corrections, the Texas-based firm that ran the prison until Aug. 1, 2007. One of the detainees, Allen Seymour, of Oxford, Mass., contacted The Journal, claiming that Rivera-Barnes had victimized him. He said he went to the prison infirmary in April 2008 and was inappropriately touched and groped. Upon his return to the cellblock area, Seymour said, he told the immigrant detainee identified in the plea agreement as M.P.A. about his experience. He said the detainee told him that he had a similar experience with the same medical technician. Seymour’s allegation is not mentioned in the criminal complaint or plea agreement. No date has been set for Rivera-Barnes to enter his guilty plea in federal court. He lived in Woonsocket when he worked at Wyatt and now lives outside of Boston.

March 26, 2009 Providence Journal
The current executive director of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility was paid nearly $1 million to oversee the $48-million expansion of the jail while he was also collecting an annual fee for other consulting work at the detention center for federal immigrant detainees and prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing. Anthony Ventetuolo Jr. confirmed this week that he and his firm, Avcorr Management LLC, of Warwick, was paid $961,671 for the second job over a three-year period that ended in October 2007. The payment represented 2 percent of the project’s cost, a fee structure that Ventetuolo said is customary for large capital construction projects. Ventetuolo had no competition for the job, which more than doubled the number of beds at the jail. Albert M. Romanowicz, then chairman of the Central Falls Detention Facility Corp., the municipal agency that owns Wyatt, approved on Feb. 23, 2004, an amendment to the Avcorr contract to provide correctional consulting services that also designated Avcorr and Ventetuolo to serve as “project representative” for the three year addition project at the same time. In a phone interview this week, Romanowicz said that Ventetuolo’s experience in corrections and his knowledge of the Wyatt jail made him the perfect choice for the job. Romanowicz, who resigned as board chairman last month, remains aggravated that city officials have in the last few weeks questioned Ventetuolo, his salary and the way he has run the jail since he became executive director in August 2007. “He’s got a helluva lot more integrity than the people going after him,” he said. During the time Ventetuolo and his firm served as project representative or construction manager, Avcorr also collected between $133,863 and $157,000 annually for correctional consulting services there, monitoring Cornell Corrections, the large Texas corrections company that was the management services contractor hired to run Wyatt until mid-2007.

March 5, 2009 Providence Journal
Federal investigators are looking into allegations that a former medical technician at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, in Central Falls, sexually assaulted two prisoners in the jail’s infirmary last year. The technician has since been fired and agents from the U.S. Marshals and the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General in Boston have questioned him, the alleged victims and other prisoners, officials confirmed. The medical technician and the two prisoners are men. The investigation is the latest development in a series of problems that have plagued the Wyatt jail since an immigrant federal detainee, Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng, died in custody last August. Separate inquiries, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which had detained Ng; the state police and the jail’s Professional Standards Unit, all condemned several corrections officers and the nursing staff for failing to provide proper treatment to Ng. A corrections captain and the director of nursing have been fired. Ng, who suffered from excruciating back pain, had liver cancer and a fractured back that went undiagnosed until the final days of his life. Last month, Ng’s widow, Lin Li Qu, and her two young boys, filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against ICE, Wyatt and a host of other defendants, saying that Ng’s medical needs were “ignored and ridiculed,” and that jail staff subjected him “to physical abuse that resulted in serious physical harm.” Ng’s death and inadequate medical care for jailed detainees across the nation has gained more attention in recent months. On Tuesday, the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on health services for immigration detainees in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Mr. Ng’s case of medical abuse should have sounded an alarm that our health services for immigration detention are badly broken,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Unfortunately, Mr. Ng was just one of over 80 deaths in a system that undermines American values of fairness and dignity. Reforming immigration detention is truly a matter of life and death.” Brown urged Congress to ask officials of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “what steps they can take to prevent another incident such as Mr. Ng’s case from occurring in the future.” IN RESPONSE to a Journal inquiry about the latest issue, Wyatt’s warden, Wayne T. Salisbury Jr., issued a news release that said the jail first learned of “a serious allegation” last April involving a staff member and “two detainees.” He said the jail’s Professional Standards Unit launched an investigation and turned its findings over to the federal Inspector General’s Office. Salisbury pointed out that the staff member had been hired by Cornell Corrections, the Texas-based firm that ran the prison until Aug. 1, 2007. Avcorr Management of Warwick, and its president, Anthony Ventetuolo Jr., now run the jail under contract with the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation, a municipal agency. “Since this matter is still under investigation, we will have no further comment at this time,” the statement reads. Salisbury did not name the staff member or the detainees. The Journal is not identifying the medical technician because he has not been charged with any crimes.

February 26, 2009 Providence Journal
The current executive director of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility was paid nearly $1 million to oversee the $48-million expansion of the jail while he was also collecting an annual fee for other consulting work at the detention center for federal immigrant detainees and prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing. Anthony Ventetuolo Jr. confirmed this week that he and his firm, Avcorr Management LLC, of Warwick, was paid $961,671 for the second job over a three-year period that ended in October 2007. The payment represented 2-percent of the project’s cost, a fee structure that Ventetuolo said is customary for large capital construction projects. Ventetuolo had no competition for the job, which more than doubled the number of beds at the jail. Albert M. Romanowicz, then chairman of the Central Falls Detention Facility Corp., the municipal agency that owns Wyatt, approved on Feb. 23, 2004, an amendment to the Avcorr contract to provide correctional consulting services that also designated Avcorr and Ventetuolo to serve as “project representative” for the three year addition project at the same time. In a phone interview this week, Romanowicz said that Ventetuolo’s experience in corrections and his knowledge of the Wyatt jail made him the perfect choice for the job. Romanowicz, who resigned as board chairman last month, remains aggravated that city officials have in the last few weeks questioned Ventetuolo, his salary and the way he has run the jail since he became executive director in August 2007. “He’s got a helluva lot more integrity than the people going after him,” he said. During the time Ventetuolo and his firm served as project representative or construction manager, Avcorr also collected between $133,863 and $157,000 annually for correctional consulting services there, monitoring Cornell Corrections, the large Texas corrections company that was the management services contractor hired to run Wyatt until mid-2007.

February 19, 2009 Providence Journal
The Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union yesterday questioned the wisdom of selling the troubled Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, now owned by the City of Central Falls, to a private corporation that owns and manages more than 65 correctional, detention and juvenile institutions nationwide. Steven Brown, executive director of the affiliate, faxed a letter to Mayor Charles D. Moreau that highlighted a host of problems — including inmate deaths — in jails run by Corrections Corporation of America, the Nashville, Tenn.-based prison firm. “Selling the facility to a corporation like CCA is, from our perspective, like jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” Brown wrote. “… Please consider the consequences that flow from such public-private partnerships that seek to make money, often by cutting corners, with little oversight and with little regard for anything other than the bottom line.” On Feb. 5, two CCA representatives spent several hours touring the jail with Moreau, prison administrators and two newly appointed members of the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation, the board that is appointed by the mayor and oversees the jail. Moreau has repeatedly said that “everything is on the table right now,” and that the city would consider selling the jail to CCA or anyone else who would pay top dollar and provide the best deal for taxpayers in this financially troubled, one-square-mile city. The jail and land have been appraised at a total of $45.1 million, according to www.appraisalresource.com. Yesterday, Moreau said that there have been no further discussions with CCA and the city has no intention of jumping into a purchase-and-sales agreement. Still, he said that anyone in the corrections business has had problems including deaths within its jails. “There are deaths that happen in prison facilities across the country every day,” he said. “If we were to sell the facility, it would be to a reputable company. I’m not going to do anything that’s not going to bolster this city.” The operation of the city-owned jail has come under fire following the death of Hiu Lui Ng, a Chinese national, last summer while in Wyatt custody. Ng’s death led to three separate investigations, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement withdrew all 153 of its immigrant detainees from the jail in December. The Ng family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Wyatt, the corporation board and Avcorr Management, the Warwick firm that oversees the management of the jail. Last month, ICE announced that it was terminating its contract to send detainees to Central Falls. The move has sent jail and city officials scrambling to replace the prisoners, a deal that was bringing the detention facility $100,000 a week and the city about $50,000 a month. Brown, in his letter, said that problems at CCA jails have trailed them for years. He cited a 1998 Justice Department report that was highly critical of a CCA jail in Washington, D.C., where two inmates were stabbed to death, there had been deaths attributed to poor medical care, and there had been several escapes. CCA agreed to pay damages of $1.65 million, Brown wrote. Brown also pointed out overcrowding, violence and accusations of excessive force at CCA-run jails in San Diego; Olney Springs, Colo., and Hutto, Texas. In the Texas jail, Brown wrote, children “as young as two years of age were held in the former medium-security facility in prison garb; received inadequate education, medical care and recreation.” He said that guards also threatened to permanently separate them from their families. A call left with CCA seeking comment was not returned yesterday.

January 31, 2009 Pawtucket Times
The consultant charged with overseeing the operations of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility may become a target of a legal complaint from a second detainee alleging mistreatment at the facility, just months after the death of a Chinese national there. Both the Wyatt and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency have in recent weeks released the results of internal investigations into the death of Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng. A Hong Kong native, Ng died in ICE custody waiting to face immigration-related charges. He succumbed last summer to advanced stage cancer that had apparently gone undiagnosed during his brief stay at the Wyatt. Now a former Wyatt detainee who once shared a cell with Ng has filed a legal complaint regarding his own treatment there. In that complaint, Marino De Los Santos is looking to have Wyatt executive director Anthony Ventetuolo and his consulting firm, Avcorr, named as defendants. On Friday, attorney Angel Taveras confirmed that he had submitted a request in federal court to have Ventetuolo and his company recognized as defendants, as an amendment to a complaint originally filed by his client, de Los Santos, who is from Bridgeport, Conn. According to Taveras, De Los Santos made several complaints to Wyatt staff in writing, alleging that he received inadequate medical treatment or no medical treatment on several occasions during his incarceration. He claims that he fell and suffered injuries on two occasions. According to a New York Times report, Ng had indicated that he might have been singled out as a possible “troublemaker” by Wyatt staff after he had been observed speaking with De Los Santos. A complaint filed by Taveras states that De Los Santos was being held on drug-related charges at the Wyatt on two occasions: the first from April 2006 to May 2007, the second from November 2007 until August 2008. According to the complaint, De Los Santos continues to endure physical pain and difficulty walking due to injuries suffered as a Wyatt detainee and subsequent lack of proper treatment. The complaint named several defendants, including Cornell Corrections Inc. (which formerly ran the facility), the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation, Wyatt Warden Wayne Salisbury, an associate warden, and several correctional and medical staffers. In the complaint, De Los Santos claims that he suffered injuries after falling near the showers on two occasions. The first fall allegedly occurred on Aug. 30, 2006. “Due to an excessive and unsafe accumulation of water in the shower area, there was water leaking out from the showers and running into the hallway,” the complaint read. “Despite the unsafe conditions of the floor, there were no signs posted indicating that the floor was wet or slippery. As Mr. De Los Santos was walking toward the showers, he slipped on the slippery floor and fell.” De Los Santos allegedly “suffered severe pain and injuries to his neck, back and right foot” as a result of the fall. A guard then allegedly ordered employees to mop the floor and, following “several minutes of Mr. De Los Santos unsuccessfully attempting to pick himself off the floor,” requested medical attention for him. According to the complaint, De Los Santos was seen by a doctor, who sent him back to his cell after giving him “two Tylenol.” He allegedly “remained bedridden for approximately two weeks,” requiring the assistance of other inmates in daily activities. The complaint alleges that De Los Santos made several unsuccessful attempts to get further medical attention. On Nov. 5, 2006, he reportedly suffered a similar fall, causing him to “defecate and temporarily lose consciousness,” and further injuring his back and neck. De Los Santos was then taken to a hospital, the complaint states, where he was diagnosed with a chest wall contusion, a soft tissue contusion and a neck sprain. He was prescribed a neck brace, but a Wyatt doctor allegedly removed and confiscated it upon his return. In May 2007, De Los Santos was transferred to the New Haven (Conn.) Correctional Center in response to his written request to the U.S. Marshals Service. In November of that year, however, he was transferred back to the Wyatt. Continuing to experience pain, De Los Santos allegedly submitted several requests for medical care and a wheelchair. A nurse is said to have indicated that he did not “meet the criteria” for a wheelchair, and that her department would not communicate with him further regarding his medical issues. The complaint added that in April 2008, a corrections officer placed his hands around De Los Santos’ chest without consent, in an effort to “straighten” him out. A grievance form he submitted regarding this incident allegedly “received no response.” Wyatt spokesman Dante Bellini had no comment on the matter. He had previously indicated that Ng had received ample medical attention, and that the facility’s staff was held to high standards. Several staffers were reportedly disciplined or fired following the ICE investigation into Ng’s death. The ICE abruptly removed all 153 of its detainees from the Wyatt in December after the Ng investigation. As part of an effort to get ICE detainees back — and the funding that comes with them —Mayor Charles Moreau has replaced four of the five board members that oversee Wyatt operations via the Central Falls Detention Facility Corp.

January 15, 2009 ICE PR
Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has notified the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation of the agency's intention to terminate the agreement to house detainees at the Donald Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island. ICE will terminate the agreement effective 60 days from Friday, January 16, 2009. Due to an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Hiu Lui Ng at Wyatt, ICE took precautions and promptly ceased sending additional detainees to the Wyatt contract facility and quickly relocated the remaining 153 ICE detainees from the facility in December 2008. The investigation, which was completed on January 12, 2009, revealed a consistent lack of communication regarding Mr. Ng's healthcare needs between medical and security personnel at Wyatt. The investigation also revealed that there were instances of non-compliance by Wyatt contract personnel with the ICE National Detention Standards and multiple failures to adhere to the facility's rules and policy. As part of the investigation, ICE reviewed the policies and procedures used by Wyatt to evaluate the health care needs of Mr. Ng and to provide him with access to health care. ICE further reviewed the procedures used to distribute medication to detainees and the use of wheelchairs to assist in the transportation of detainees, including Mr. Ng. ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) found that contract personnel at Wyatt failed to provide Mr. Ng a wheelchair on a number of occasions, resulting in Mr. Ng effectively being denied access to his counsel as well as to a medical appointment. ICE OPR also found that the facility guards and medical staff failed to adhere to the facility's use of force policy. ICE strives to maintain safe, secure and humane detention conditions and quality health care. We make every effort to enforce all existing standards and whenever possible, to improve upon them. ICE requires that all facilities housing detainees meet our National Detention Standards, which meet or exceed industry standards. When we find that our standards are not being met by contract facilities, we take immediate action to ensure the safety and well being of all ICE detainees.

August 20, 2008 New York Times
A lawsuit filed in federal court a year ago by a Dominican detainee makes complaints about health care at a detention center in Rhode Island that are similar to accounts of how the center treated a Chinese New Yorker who died Aug. 6 in immigration custody. That inmate was suffering from a fractured spine and extensive cancer that had gone undiagnosed until five days before his death. The lawsuit, filed in Providence, asserts that employees at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center, in Central Falls, R.I., denied a wheelchair to Marino De Los Santos, who said that he suffered serious injuries to his neck, back, chest and spine in two falls at the center in 2006. According to the suit, employees accused Mr. De Los Santos of faking his injuries and refused to take him to scheduled examinations by a spine specialist. Cornell Corrections of Rhode Island, one of the defendants, which ran the center at the time covered by the suit, denied any wrongdoing in its answer. In the case of Hiu Lui Ng, who was the subject of an article last week in The New York Times, lawyers and relatives said that when he was racked with pain and too weak to walk, detention officials refused him a wheelchair, failed to take him to scheduled appointments for an M.R.I. exam or a CT scan, and instead took him in shackles to Hartford — where he was pressured to withdraw his appeals and accept deportation. The lawsuit by Mr. De Los Santos and details of earlier medical evaluations that fell short of diagnosing Mr. Ng’s terminal illness and debilitating injury, emerged this week as members of Congress demanded a full accounting by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security. In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Mr. De Los Santos, 37, said that Mr. Ng was briefly his cellmate early last month and that his extreme back pain and weakness were apparent. “He was crying all night,” Mr. De Los Santos said from his home in Bridgeport, Conn., where he returned after he was released on bond on Friday. He faces deportation as a convicted drug dealer. “I got bottom bunk, he got the upper bunk, and when he’s going to bed, it’s terrible. And I got problems, too, in my back, but him, when I see him, I can’t sleep.” Mr. Ng was eventually assigned to a lower bunk in another cell, but by late last month he could barely walk, Mr. De Los Santos said. “When you line up to take medicine, he would grab a chair, because he couldn’t stand. And they would tell him he had to let the chair go, he had to stand, but he couldn’t.” He said that when Mr. Ng was bedridden, he saw a nurse go to check him in his cell. “She came out laughing and saying he was faking,” Mr. De Los Santos said. Mr. Ng, a computer engineer with no criminal record, overstayed a visa years ago and had been applying for a green card through his wife, a United States citizen, when he was swept into the detention system in July 2007. Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an e-mail message that the agency “continues to investigate allegations that Mr. Ng was mistreated in any way while in detention.” But she added: “Based on a review of the medical records, it appears that Mr. Ng was examined by medical staff at the facility where he was detained and at the local hospital in Rhode Island both as a normal course of admission to the facility and for individual complaints he had. Tragically, but not unlike similar situations involving citizens of this country, Mr. Ng was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer and sadly succumbed to the illness within days of the diagnosis.” Officials at Wyatt would not answer questions last week, but asserted in a written statement that Mr. Ng had received proper care. In a letter to Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, on Monday, Representatives John C. Conyers Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Zoe Lofgren, chairwoman of its subcommittee on immigration, said that based on the article, “ the treatment provided to Mr. Ng is simply unforgivable.” It is “particularly distressing,” the letter added, “considering that much of it took place when ICE was facing intense scrutiny over the quality of its medical care system and when agency personnel had assured Congress that problems had been addressed.” According to Mr. Ng’s relatives and lawyers, he began complaining of severe back pain and an itchy rash in April, when he was being held at the Greenfield County Sheriff’s lockup in St. Albans, Vt., where little or no health care was available. When he was transferred to Wyatt on July 3, a health screening form listed a rash, but no back pain. Later, he was seen by detention center doctors for back pain, and after his relatives urged further tests, given an X-ray of his back and hip on July 20, medical records show. The radiologist’s report came back with a diagnosis of mild scoliosis, without complications. Since Mr. Ng’s spine fracture was diagnosed 12 days later, when an M.R.I. also found terminal cancer in his bones, lungs and liver, it is unclear whether the radiologist missed evidence of his broken back or if that injury occurred sometime between the X-ray and his Aug. 2 admission to Rhode Island Hospital, in Providence. A doctor at the detention center noted in the record that a CT scan should be performed if Mr. Ng’s pain did not respond to painkillers and muscle relaxants. Instead, on the evening of July 26, a Saturday, Mr. Ng was taken to the emergency room at a hospital in Pawtucket, R.I., which does not perform CT scans on weekends. Doctors there scheduled a CT scan for the following Monday, but according to affidavits from Mr. Ng’s lawyers, the detention center’s staff made no effort to take him back there. Another scan was scheduled for Tuesday, the affidavits said, but Mr. Ng missed that one, too, because, his lawyers assert, he was unable to walk to the car and detention center officials refused to give him a wheelchair, then reported that he had refused to go. According to affidavits, concern over Mr. De Los Santos’s lawsuit may have played a role in Mr. Ng’s treatment. Mr. Ng’s lawyers said that he told them that a detention captain had ordered him to stop talking to a detainee who had filed a civil suit over a back injury suffered at Wyatt. After his painful trip to Hartford on July 30, Mr. Ng expressed fears that he, too, had been labeled “a troublemaker” by detention officials, and that they had determined to get rid of him or to prove that he was faking illness.

August 1, 2007 Providence Journal
The Central Falls Detention Facility Corp. today takes over the management of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility from Texas-based Cornell Corrections. That means the detention board — made up of five people appointed by the mayor of Central Falls — will take over the day-to-day operations of the expanded prison, which houses about 575 inmates and has been run by Cornell for the past 13 years. The detention board decided to take over after contract negotiations broke down in May when the sides failed to agree on what Cornell would be paid to run the facility. The board had expected to celebrate the completion of a $47-million expansion, which doubled the size of the prison and its number of inmates, by the time it took over management of Wyatt but construction delays will postpone its completion for another month, says Dante Bellini Jr. of RDW Group, the spokesman for the Central Falls Detention Facility Corp. The detention board rehired former warden Wayne Salisbury to serve as Wyatt’s warden. Cornell removed Salisbury in May during contract negotiations with correctional officers. Salisbury, who was hired by Avcorr Consulting, which provides professional oversight to Wyatt, served on a transition team that included Central Falls Police Chief Joseph Moran, Avcorr president Tony Ventetuolo Jr., Tammy Nova, a Wyatt accountant who will now serve as its chief financial officer, and Eugene Racquier, a member of the detention facility board, as well as Ray Meador, Don Hunt, Paula Lisa and Keith Martin. “We did a lot in a very short time, said Bellini. “There was a punch list of over 150 specific items that needed to be resolved. Everything from payroll issues, financial, benefit issues, everything you could imagine when taking over this kind of facility,” he said.

June 22, 2007 Providence Journal-Bulletin
The Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation gave notice to Cornell Corrections, which has run the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility for the past 13 years, that come Aug. 1, it will take over the prison. The corporation is set to operate the facility at about the same time it expects to celebrate the completion of a $47-million expansion that has doubled the size of the prison and the number of inmates. Contract negotiations broke down last month when both sides could not agree on what the detention board would pay Cornell to run the prison, said Anthony Ventetuolo Jr., president of Avcorr Consulting, which provides operational oversight to Wyatt. Under enabling legislation passed in 1991, the detention board has the authority to operate the facility with its own forces or contract out. The board has told Wyatt employees that they can stay. Of the 190 employees, 150 of those agreed to stay, according to Ventetuolo. Cornell is one of eight private prison operators in the United States and the third largest in the country. The Texas-based company posted its revenue earnings at $9.2 million (excluding direct reimbursements) in 2006 under the contract with Wyatt. Ventetuolo said that Wyatt’s rising debt service due to its expansion and the increasingly high cost of paying Cornell factored in the board’s decision to run its own detention facility. “We went from a debt service of $2.7 million a year to $8.4 million which is a big jump but we’ve got additional [detainees] that will help offset that over the next two years of transition,” Ventetuolo said. He said that prior to expansion construction, the corporation paid Cornell $12 million a year to run the prison. Cornell wanted “too much money for the next year and a half for what was reasonable,” Ventetuolo said. “We think we can save between 10 and 15 percent which is critical to us right now.” The detention board has negotiated a $96-per-day rate for each prisoner, up from $89.90, with its primary users, the U.S. Marshal’s Office and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ventetuolo said. Wyatt added 120,000 square feet of space which include two additional floors and an additional building for training. The number of detainees the prison can hold went from 342 to 642. There are now 600 detainees at Wyatt. The detention board directed Ventetuolo to form a transition team to determine what needs to be done to transfer the operation by Cornell to the corporation. Former warden Wayne Salisbury, who ran Wyatt until last month when Cornell abruptly removed him, is a member of the transition team and is also working for Avcorr. Ventetuolo said he hired Salisbury for his expertise with the prison. He said that once the corporation takes over it will hire a new warden and Salisbury would be in contention for the post.

May 31, 2007 Prime News Wire
Cornell Companies, Inc. (NYSE:CRN) announced today that the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation has notified the company of its intent to transition the management contract for the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center to another provider following the conclusion of the current management agreement at the end of July, 2007. Revenues (excluding direct reimbursements) earned in 2006 under this contract were approximately $9.2 million. Management intends to discuss any changes to 2007 guidance as a result of this contract transition at the same time guidance is updated to reflect the company's recently-announced contract award from the Arizona Department of Corrections.

May 31, 2007 Providence Journal-Bulletin
Cornell Corrections, the private company that runs the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, has removed warden Wayne Salisbury from his job. No one is giving the reason for Salisbury’s removal. Cornell made its decision May 25 to replace Salisbury, according to Dante Bellini Jr. of RDW Group, the spokesman for the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation, which owns the prison. Cornell Corrections replaced Salisbury with acting warden William Massingill, who has already started work at the detention center, according to Bellini. Massingill once served as chief of security for the prison. Salisbury’s removal comes at a time when Cornell Corrections is in the midst of contract negotiations with the Rhode Island Private Correctional Officers Union. They are scheduled to reconvene for negotiations June 4, according to Christine Parker, spokeswoman for Cornell Corrections. A federal mediator has been brought in to work with the two sides. Cornell, one of eight private prison operators in the United States and the third largest in the country, is also in negotiations with Wyatt to continue to run the prison. Cornell’s contract with Wyatt ran out in January. The prison has been trying to get an increase in the $89.90 per day it receives from federal agencies. Parker would not discuss the reason for Salisbury’s removal, saying that the company does not comment on personnel matters. “We continue to operate the facility. We have a seasoned team of qualified and experienced personnel that we are utilizing to continue operations of the facility,” Parker said. Salisbury became acting warden in 2003 and later became the warden. Wyatt houses federal detainees mostly from the U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Immigration Customs Enforcement.

May 7, 2007 Pawtucket Times
After four days of silence, talks between the Rhode Island Private Correctional Officers Union and the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility resumed Monday, although a strike is "still a very strong option," according to union President Heath Letourneau. On May 1, the day before their three-year contract was scheduled to expire, Wyatt's 107 correctional officers voted to authorize a strike. Despite the fact that the two parties have agreed to return to the bargaining table next Tuesday and Wednesday, Letourneau said Tuesday's meeting, which was refereed by a federal mediator, bore no fruit. The main sticking point, he said, was the prison's insistence on cutting an hour of previously guaranteed overtime. "Since their last offer, they haven't moved at all," said Letourneau. "In that offer, all they did was move the money from our guaranteed hour [per week] of overtime and factor it into our hourly wage..." According to a Wyatt press release, the most recent offer provides for a 16.5 percent pay increase over five years, with a 4.5 percent hike in the first year. Not surprisingly, prison workers' right to strike is limited by the federal government's interest in public safety, a fact duly noted by prison officials in a statement to The Times. "The National Labor Relations Act requires that unions provide adequate notice before a strike," a prison spokesperson wrote. "While there is no specified definition of 'adequate notice,' existing court decisions suggest that six weeks' notice is adequate for guard services such as those provided by RIPCO at the Wyatt Detention Center."

May 3, 2007 Pawtucket Times
The 107 correctional officers employed by the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility voted to authorize a strike Tuesday, according to a written statement from the Rhode Island Private Correctional Officers Union. The employees' three-year contract expired today, although the statement did not say when or under what circumstances a strike would occur. "The major issues which the parties have yet to resolve include wages, proper security measures, training and minimum staffing," wrote Union President Heath Letourneau. "We are seeking your support and assistance in our quest to be treated fairly during this period of negotiations." Attempts to contact Letourneau with the telephone number provided in the statement were unsuccessful. For their part, prison officials said they hadn't heard anything about a strike and warned that a sneak attack would be unwise. "The National Labor Relations Act requires that unions provide adequate notice before a strike," a prison spokesperson told The Times in a written statement. "While there is no specified definition of 'adequate notice,' existing court decisions suggest that six weeks' notice is adequate for guard services such as those provided by RIPCO at the Wyatt Detention Center." The prison recently contacted a federal mediator to facilitate ongoing contract negotiations between the prison and the union. The discussion between the two parties has not progressed since the prison's most recent - but not final - proposal, which provides for a 16.5 percent pay increase over five years, with a 4.5 percent hike in the first year. No mediation meeting has been scheduled. "Our primary concern at this point is for the safety and security of our detainees," said Warden Wayne Salisbury, Jr. "We cannot allow for these necessities to be compromised by labor negotiations. As such, we have begun making contingency plans in the event that RIPCO members do strike. Meanwhile, we hope that the strike can be avoided altogether. Our negotiator remains available during normal business hours to meet with both the federal mediator and union representatives."

January 30, 2007 Connecticut Post
A federal judge, frustrated by the medical attention given to two inmates, ordered one released on $1 million bond so he could seek private care, while the other must be taken by prison officials to an orthopedic surgeon. U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall issued the orders after hearing lawyers in two separate hearings just hours apart complain that their clients did not receive adequate treatment. "It is my view that the United States of America, through its Bureau of Prisons, should take care of the medical conditions of its prisoners in custody," Hall said Monday. The inmates are Bruce Forest, 50, the reputed Porta-Potty bomber from Weston, and Gary John, the 58-year-old retired FBI agent from Stratford recently convicted of assaulting a federal marshal. Both are in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at the private Donald C. Wyatt detention center in Central Falls, R.I. "Lawyers have an incredible sense of frustration with the medical care at Wyatt," said Robert Mann, John's lawyer. "Our clients are just not getting the medical attention needed at Wyatt." Wyatt officials did not return telephone calls Monday. However, Felicia Ponce, a spokeswoman for the prisons bureau, said her agency takes "any medical concerns of our inmates very seriously & we make it our utmost priority." Ponce could not comment directly on the two cases.

March 19, 2005 Pawtucket Times
This weekend, the federal inmates at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center can pretend they’re at the beach. After a 3,000-gallon water heater burst Thursday afternoon, the prison’s showers became as brisk as a public-use cabana, according to prison officials. The Times received a concerned phone call Friday from a relative of an inmate who said prisoners had been without heat and hot water for two days and had been denied blankets by prison guards. On Friday afternoon, prison consultant Tony Ventetuolo said the public can rest easy: the problem is temporary and not at all serious.

After 13 months without making contributions to the city budget, the Central Falls Detention Facility Corp. announced that it will resume making monthly payments to the municipal coffers.  The corporation’s board of directors, which oversees the Wyatt Detention Facility, will immediately resume paying the city $25,704 per month.  The board is not legally obligated to pay a specific dollar amount to the city, but does pay an "impact fee" from money still left over after paying the prison’s debts and operating costs.  Al Romanowicz, chairman of the jail board, said the number of prisoners held at Wyatt had dropped, reducing the prison’s revenue.  "The census at the facility dropped, and the city is last in line for its fees," Romanowicz said. "Bondholders come first. Operational expenses come second, and the city is last in line to get any of the proceeds."  (Pawtucket Times, April 29, 2004)

A strike at the Wyatt Detention Facility that had been called for this morning was averted when union and management reached a three-year agreement late last week.  The R.I. Private Correctional Officers, which represents 72 COs at the private, for-profit High Street jail, initially set a strike deadline of midnight on April 1 when its prior three-year contract expired.  Although Cornell pays no taxes on the operation, it is one of Central Falls’ top revenue producers, consistently making payments to the city of about $500,000 a year.  (Zwire.com, April 13, 2004)

The Rhode Island Private Correctional Officers' Union has given notice that it plans to go on strike April 13 at 6:45 a.m. if no contract is reached with the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center.  The union and Wyatt had broken off contract negotiations Wednesday and were facing a possible strike by its 73 correctional officers last night at midnight when the union's contract expired.  "We are making $8,000 less than the guards at the ACI [Adult Correctional Institutions]. It takes us six years to get what people at the ACI get," he said. A starting correctional officer at Wyatt makes $25,667, according to Weston.  (Providence Journal, April 2, 2004)

Dunn M. Beckett, the former prison guard convicted last year of possessing a sawed-off shotgun, has begun serving a 33-month federal prison sentence. Beckett had worked as a guard at the Donald W. Wyatt Federal Detention Center in Central Falls for eight years, and had served as president of the Rhode Island Private Correctional Officers' Union. (The Providence Journal-Bulletin, March 24, 2003)

A corrections officer was found guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court of possessing a sawed-off shotgun. A federal jury convicted Dunn M. Beckett, 33, on one count of possessing an unregistered shotgun shorter than the legal length. Federal agents found a shortened shotgun barrel and a shotgun stock in Beckett's garage while searching his home, at 58 Edgewood Drive, Cumberland, Aug. 16 in connection with a murder investigation. (The Providence Journal-Bulletin, March 30, 2002)

Dunn M. Beckett, a corrections officer at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center, in Central Falls, was identified by a federal prosecutor as a "suspect or target of two murder investigations" during his appearance yesterday in U.S. District Court on federal firearms charges. Beckett the president of the 57-member Rhode Island Private Correctional Officer's Union has been charged with possession of a shotgun shorter than the legal length and possession of a stolen firearm. (The Providence Journal-Bulletin, September 1, 2001)

A carbon monoxide leak at a privately run prison Wednesday afternoon sent a dozen inmates and employees to the hospital. The leak affected inmates and employees in the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility laundry and kitchen area. All other inmates who were not injured were left in their cells. Wyatt is a private, for-profit jail owned by Texas-based Cornell Companies Inc. Most of the inmates are federal prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing. (AP, August 8, 2001)

Guards at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility reached an agreement with the jail's parent company right before midnight Tuesday, and called off a planned strike. The prison's parent company, Texas-based Cornell Companies Inc., and the union representing the guards negotiated for several hours before agreeing on a 5 percent pay raise this year, and a 4.5 pay raise for each of the following two years. Health care costs, which had also been an issue, will not change. (AP, April 4, 2001)

Guards at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility voted Saturday night to go on strike Wednesday, as a union-imposed deadline passed with no new contract for correctional officers at the private, for-profit jail. Union members voted to begin the strike Wednesday at 7 a.m. After a day of picketing and demonstrations, the guards except to return to work Thursday morning. Union president Dunn Beckett called an earlier offer from the company insulting. That proposal called for 2 percent raises in each of the next three years, and required union members to pay higher premiums for their health insurance. Nonunion employees will be used during the planned one-day strike, and if needed, the prison's parent company, Texas-based Cornell Companies Inc., can also draw resources from its other facilities around the country, Chief Deputy William Fallon of the U.S. Marshal's office in Providence said. (AP, April 1, 2001)