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Prison lieutenant resigns from post

| Tuesday, May 2, 2006

HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP -...A Westmoreland County Prison lieutenant has quit amid allegations he developed a personal relationship with a female inmate.

Timothy Jones, 50, resigned on Monday during a prison board meeting.

Jones was suspended two weeks ago after prison officials confiscated letters he allegedly wrote to a female inmate. In addition to the correspondence, Jones reportedly had corrections officers take the inmate from her cellblock to his office so he could meet with her.

After an internal probe, Warden John Walton said there was no evidence to label the relationship a romantic one, but the matter has been turned over to District Attorney John Peck for further investigation.

Jones attended yesterday's meeting accompanied by his wife. He declined to comment as he walked out of the prison.

As one of six lieutenants at the 691-bed lockup in Hempfield Township, Jones oversaw shifts of about 30 corrections officers. County records show that Jones was hired in October 1992 and was promoted to the supervisory position in July 1996. He was receiving a $39,204 salary.

Walton and several prison board members said Jones had a spotless record throughout his 14-year career. The situation with the inmate appeared to be isolated but broke one of the most basic rules of conduct for correctional officers: not to become personally involved with inmates, Walton said. In resigning, Jones did not admit any guilt.

"He's apologizing to the board for any mistake he may have made," Walton said. "He had a perfect record. That's a difficult thing to do in any job. I thought he did a good job while he was here."

Jones' resignation was accepted after the board spent 30 minutes behind closed doors discussing his employment. Walton said he was unsure whether the board would have fired Jones had he not resigned.

Prison board Chairman Tom Ceraso said last week he wanted to commission an independent probe into complaints of misconduct and security breeches at the prison. Yesterday, he said he was backing off the idea because he felt "proper steps were taken" to address problems.

"At this time, I don't think we're going to take any action," Ceraso said.

Jones was suspended close to the same time a nurse quit when corrections officials discovered she'd developed a relationship with a male inmate. Also, a different problem was found in the booking department when an officer released a woman by mistake.

On April 13, Krista McManamy, 18, of Derry, was released instead of her mother, Ruthanne McManamy, 41, also of Derry. After the elder McManamy complained, corrections officials alerted police, who picked up Krista McManamy in Jeannette.

Walton said a photo system has been installed to allow guards to verify the identities of inmates being released. The warden declined to name the booking officer who released Krista McManamy. He said a disciplinary letter was put in the officer's personnel file, but there was no suspension.

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