Prison Guard Jumped During Fight in the Yard

A fight broke out among inmates last year at the correctional institution in Herlong, California. An officer entered the yard to take control of the situation and ordered the offending inmates to get on the ground. The inmates complied with the order.

As often happens in such situations when combatants are separated but remain within striking range, insults were exchanged and it appeared as though hostilities might break out again.

The officer approached one of the main loudmouths, Cresencio Ochoa-Tovali, a 46-year-old Mexican national. Suddenly Ochoa-Tovali jumped up to a standing position and struck the officer in the face.

Ochoa-Tovali pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal correctional officer. He could get an additional eight years in prison tacked on to his original sentence when he learns his fate in March 2015.

In other prison developments:

  • A correctional officer working at a pretrial detention facility in Florida has pleaded guilty to stealing the personal identifying information of inmates housed at the facility. The officer kept a notebook with 49 names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of the prisoners. The information was used to create bogus debit card accounts, and W-2 forms were created in the inmates’ names. Phony tax returns were then electronically filed via online tax software tools such as Turbo Tax. The guard, Harold B. Walbey III, of Jacksonville, Florida, claimed more than $250,000 in fraudulent refunds.
  • A Fairbanks, Alaska, man already in custody at the Fairbanks Correctional Center awaiting sentencing was indicted by a grand jury for soliciting the murder of federal officers. Guy Christopher Mannino, 56, allegedly solicited another person in 2014 to murder several unnamed officers. Mannino previously had pleaded guilty to felony weapons charges including possession and transfer of a machine gun equipped with a silencer. He also admitted to concealing assets from bankruptcy court and creditors.
  • Information provided by inmates at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County, Florida, indicated that guard Jason Monroe Epstein, 29, of Orlando, Florida, was accepting bribes in return for smuggling tobacco and marijuana into the prison. An investigation resulted in recorded conversations between Epstein and the inmates in which Epstein admitted to accepting the bribes. When confronted by investigators, Epstein confessed that he had received “hundreds of dollars” in illegal payments from the inmates and that he had smuggled the contraband into the prison for them on at least “three or four” occasions. After a guilty plea Epstein was sentenced to 18 months behind bars.

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