|------ Original Message -----
From: H Jones
To: 1-PrisonNewsNetwork ; 4 PRUP LIST
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 4:37 PM
SUNBURY - During his first months as warden at the Northumberland County Prison, Ralph "Rick" Reish was criticized for his administrative style and policies.
Several guards, in fact, went to the media with detailed complaints about Reish.
Wednesday's arrest of seven former and current guards on drug smuggling and assault charges, however, validates the direction Reish has taken as the new warden, according to the county prison board.
The seven-member board, which gathered for an emergency meeting and executive session Wednesday in light of the arrests, issued a one-page statement in relation to the case.
"Today's arrests validate what the board has been trying to do with the support and cooperation of Reish during his 14-month tenure - create a more professional, accountable and responsible prison system," the statement reads. "The prison board has already established or revised, promulgated and enforced many policies similar to those recommended in the grand jury report (which led to the arrests), including contraband control, use of force by officers and criminal activity.
"The warden has been further directed to implement any recommendations made by the grand jury that have not already been addressed and that do not require formal approval by the prison board, and to report back to the board at its May 5 meeting regarding this and any additional action that needs to be taken."
Reish, questioned Thursday, declined to comment beyond the prison board's statement at this time. He said he may elaborate at a later date on his policies.
Rumors of widespread corruption at the prison have existed for the past several years and led to a two-year investigation by the state Attorney General's Office, Pennsylvania State Police and Sunbury police.
Charged as a result of a grand jury investigation are current correctional officers Holly Yucha, 33, of Shamokin RD 2; Christopher Guise, 48, of Marion Heights; Kazimir "KC" Grohowski, 32, of Mount Carmel; and Nathaniel Wohlheiter, 25, of Turbotville; and former guards Hubert "Hank" Dorkoski, 53, of Mount Carmel; Floyd Hulsizer III, 26, of Trevorton; and Shawn Dinklocker, 24, of Coal Township.
Yucha, Grohowski, Guise and Wohlheiter have been suspended without pay by the prison board, pending the outcome of their cases.
Authorities reported Hulsizer was previously fired from his position as a correctional officer while Dinklocker resigned. Dorkoski recently retired as a guard.
Authorities said no prison administrators or inmates were charged as part of the probe. Yucha is charged with one count of delivery of contraband to a prisoner and criminal conspiracy involving the furnishing of marijuana to several inmates in 2001 and 2002.
Guise, who is a borough councilman in Marion Heights, is charged with one count of aggravated assault. He is accused of assaulting inmate Norman Miller on Oct. 29, 2000.
Grohowski is charged with two counts of possession of marijuana and criminal conspiracy, and one count each of possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine and aggravated assault.
Wohlheiter is charged with one count each of possession with intent to deliver marijuana and possession of marijuana, and two counts of criminal conspiracy. Hulsizer is charged with three counts of delivery of marijuana, one count of possession of marijuana and two counts of criminal conspiracy.
Dinklocker is charged with one count of possession of marijuana and two counts of criminal conspiracy.
And Dorkoski, a former Mount Carmel police officer, is charged with one count each of delivery of marijuana and contraband (money), three counts of possession of marijuana, nine counts of criminal use of a communication facility and two counts of criminal conspiracy. The prison board is comprised of the three commissioners, Samuel Deitrick, Kurt Masser and Frank Sawicki; District Attorney Tony Rosini; President Judge Robert B. Sacavage; Sheriff Charles Berkoski; and Controller Charles "Chuck" Erdman.
Rosini stressed Wednesday that former prison wardens Clarence "Buddy" Bixler and Patrick Kepler, and Reish, were not part of the grand jury investigation.
Attorney General Jerry Pappert added, "This is not an indictment of the entire staff at the prison." Pappert said the investigation began when Sunbury police initiated a probe into stolen weapons. During their investigation, officers developed information on drugs and other contraband being smuggled into the prison. Sunbury police then began coordinating their efforts with state police and the attorney general's office.
Between 2000 and 2002, numerous guards at the prison allegedly brought marijuana, tobacco, cigarettes and other contraband into the prison for inmates to use. The guards allegedly received a "fee" for bringing the contraband into the prison.
Pappert said the grand jury heard testimony from
20 witnesses, including law enforcement officers, former and current employees,
guards, inmates and others, who described the egregious security and accountability
problems at the prison dating back more than five years. Guards allegedly
also relinquished control of the prison to a select group of inmates.
Pappert said the grand jury found that the county prison had an utter disregard for the appropriate creation and preservation of records by corrections officers and prison administrators.
Among the grand jury's 14 recommendations were that the prison establish a clear statement of policy requiring that, where there is evidence of criminal misconduct by prison officials and administrators, a complaint or report be referred promptly to law enforcement authorities; that the prison implement and follow a mandatory system of review and evaluation regarding the performance of its employees; and that the prison immediately implement a policy requiring the random drug testing of all inmates and employees.