3rd jail search finds pills on inmate
Convicted felon Fremont Mathias Jr.'s brief drug-smuggling operation didn't spur any changes to the way officers search inmates at the Allegheny County Courthouse.
But his attempt to bootleg drugs into the jail reminded authorities that thorough searches could save lives.
Mathias, 33, of Monroeville tried to smuggle 42 pills into the jail on June 5, the day he was sent there for one to two years for fatally striking a motorcyclist along Hochberg Road in Monroeville on June 30, 2013.
Although Mathias got the drugs past sheriff's deputies at the courthouse by wedging them inside the tongue of his sneakers, he didn't get them through a more thorough search at the jail.
Where Mathias hid the contraband was “beyond the normal search” parameters at the courthouse and “extremely hard to find,” said Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen. Searches at the courthouse generally consist of a pat-down and a pocket search, Mullen said.
“The searches are important so they don't smuggle something into the jail,” Mullen said, “whether it's drugs, a handcuff key, a razor blade or something else that could be used against a deputy or a guard.”
Even at the jail, where guards perform body cavity searches, they didn't find the pills until the third try, officials said.
“Our system at the jail worked as it is supposed to in identifying possible contraband,” said Warden Orlando Harper. “Like other policies and procedures, that system is constantly evaluated to determine whether improvements can be made.”
Chuck Mandarino, president of the Allegheny County Independent Prison Employees Union, could not be reached for comment.
Mathias was charged with six counts of possessing a controlled substance and sent back to jail.
Common Pleas Judge Philip Ignelzi this week denied a prosecutor's motion for a lengthier sentence on the homicide by vehicle conviction in light of Mathias' new charges.
Mathias' lawyer declined comment. His wife, Heather Mathias, 32, who was sentenced to one year of probation for pleading guilty to hindering her husband's apprehension, could not be reached.
Although Mullen determined that his deputies did nothing wrong concerning Mathias, he said he retrained employees and reinforced his department's policy of when and how to search inmates.
Now, Mullen said, deputies search inmates each time they're brought to and from the jail and courthouse. They check pockets, waistbands and socks, he said.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Dormont man missing since Wednesday found dead at Station Square
- U.S. Marshals task force arrests homicide suspect in Monroeville
- Police seek help finding missing Squirrel Hill man
- $750K earmarked to help Allegheny County ‘Live Well’
- State lawmaker proposes changes to Penn State’s board of trustees
- Penn Hills votes to sell, lease vacant school space
- Allgheny County charter school students give more than $11K to assist homeless children
- Land eyed for trail connectors to expand Harrison Hills Park
- Witnesses recall scene of crash in Lincoln Place homicide by vehicle trial
- Lawsuit filed against PWSA for inaccurate billing from radio-controlled meter readers
- Mt. Lebanon police chief to retire, replacement selected