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Contract Killings


Thursday, 14 October 2010

leader of the "Mexican Mafia" prison gang.

24-year-old Toni L. Morris failed to show up for the hearing, prompting Henry Circuit Court 1 Judge Mary Willis to issue a warrant for her arrest.

Authorities said Morris had the phone hidden in her bra last March 2 when she showed up for a planned visit with inmate Joseph Uvalle, a convicted sex offender and bandit from Lake County described in court documents as leader of the "Mexican Mafia" prison gang.

That case is one of scores related to the NCCF filed by Henry County Prosecutor Kit Crane's office since the prison opened in 2002 at the site of a former state hospital.

Not that Crane is upset about the additional burden those cases put on his staff.

So long as the prison's population exceeds 1,500 inmates -- and state Department of Correction records indicate the NCCF had an average daily population of more than 2,400 in 2009 -- state government picks up the tab for the salary and benefits for two of Crane's six deputy prosecutors.

(Should the prison population fall to below 1,500 inmates, the state would provide the funding for a single deputy prosecutor.)

"This help has been financially beneficial to the county," Crane said Monday. "I didn't hire additional deputy prosecutors, but instead moved county-paid deputy prosecutors off of the county payroll and onto the state payroll."

The state puts no restrictions on what types of cases the state-funded deputies handle, Crane said.

The Henry County prosecutor said he couldn't immediately produce statistics showing how many cases his office had handled related to the NCCF.

Over those past eight years, those cases have included:

Twenty-eight inmates facing charges stemming from an April 2007 riot at the NCCF.

Two inmates being convicted of murder in a fellow prisoner's June 2006 slaying.

Inmates being charged with attacks on staff members, ranging in severity from savage beatings to thrown feces.
There have also been numerous prosecutions stemming from failed attempts to smuggle contraband to inmates -- most commonly tobacco, marijuana and cell phones -- with defendants that have included both visitors, like Morris, and NCCF staff members.

Perhaps the most persistent of those defendants was Cynthia Ann Angel, now 45, of Centerville, who in July 2009 was arrested after she tossed a package containing five cell phones and tobacco over a NCCF fence.

That arrest came about seven months after Angel had pleaded guilty to an unrelated count of trafficking with an inmate, receiving a suspended sentence.

The Wayne County woman wasn't so fortunate the second time around, drawing a four-year prison term.

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