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Published: Wednesday, 4/15/2009

County lockup has experienced its share of problems

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The indictment of Lucas County Sheriff James Telb and three employees over a death of a jail inmate is not the first problem at the county lockup.

Most recently, former Lucas County Corrections Officer Seth Bunke was found guilty of three counts of violating civil rights.

He was convicted of assaulting two inmates who were in custody at the Lucas County jail between September, 2006, and July, 2007, and of portraying himself as a police officer when he stopped a driver he suspected of drunken driving.

A victim, Jeffrey Jones, who was 44 when the incident occurred July 11, suffered a concussion, broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and dislocated shoulder.

Bunke was found guilty on Oct. 14, and later sentenced to four years in prison.

Sheriff's Deputy Joel McConnell and Corrections Officer James Kotlarczyk pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of witness tampering.

They were sentenced to one day in prison, with credit given, stemming from their roles in authoring inaccurate reports and persuading others not to file reports about the Jones incident.

In 2003, a former county jail employee smuggled bullets and a gun clip to a convicted murder, giving the inmate needed parts to make a working gun that he used in a failed escape attempt.

Mario P. Crosby was sentenced to four years in prison for taking money from people outside the jail as payment to take the bullets, a cell phone, pizza, and other food into the locked-down facility for Prentiss Williams.

Crosby was fired from the jail in October, 2003, after Williams pulled a 9mm handgun from his waistband in a maximum-security area Oct. 14 and fired twice through a metal door at a corrections officer, who fled to safety.

The inmate pointed the gun at another officer, but surrendered it and was subdued.

In another instance in early 2008, former corrections officer Edward Drane was found guilty of accepting a bribe to smuggle contraband into the jail.

Drane met with a Toledo police undercover detective and was given tobacco and marijuana in wrappers holding fast-food sandwiches and $100 in cash, officials said.

There also have been a variety of escapes from the county jail in recent history, including a suspect walking out the front door and another snatching a master key to make his way out.

In January, 2008, a South Toledo man escaped from the booking area of the jail and led police on a foot chase through downtown Toledo.

The man, Jeffrey L. West, was waiting to be booked in the lobby on Jan. 5, 2008. But when he rose to approach the counter, he instead turned and ran outside through the front doors.

Sheriff's deputies ran after him and he was taken back to the jail about 15 minutes later.

An accused bank robber used a master key to escape in August, 2006, and then robbed a North Toledo bank before he was found missing from the lockup.

Robert Harris escaped Aug. 22, 2006, after finding keys left on a desk by a corrections officer who was working in his module. One was a master key that allowed Harris to unlock two doors and ride a service elevator to the basement, where he left through a locked but unguarded door at the jail's north end.

Two Lucas County sheriff's deputies and a corrections officer were suspended in connection with the incident.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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