Former prison worker sentenced to jail term
By Liz Zemba
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 7:18 p.m.
A Fayette County woman who smuggled cellphones and hair dye to inmates at a state prison was sentenced on Wednesday to a jail term of three to 23 months.
Moments before she was handcuffed to be led to the Fayette County jail, Leann Cellurale, 36, turned toward four family members in the courtroom, smiled and blew them a kiss.
Cellurale, of Dunbar Township, pleaded guilty on July 3 to possession with intent to deliver contraband, possession and two misdemeanor counts of contraband. Cellurale worked in the dietary department of the State Correctional Institution at Fayette, where she provided inmates with forbidden items, including marijuana, phones, hair dye, Muslim oil and incense, according to a criminal complaint.
Police said Cellurale hid the packages on her person when she entered the prison in Luzerne between Jan. 24 and July 17, 2012.
An unidentified inmate turned over one of the packages containing marijuana to prison personnel on July 17, according to the complaint, and Cellurale “admitted to bringing five to eight packages into the prison” during a July 20 interview with a state trooper.
Senior Judge Gerald Solomon on Wednesday ordered Cellurale to be transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Muncy in Lycoming to serve her sentence.
Defense attorney Jeremy Davis of Uniontown said he will seek to have her incarcerated instead in the Greene County jail so she can apply for work release.
The Fayette jail does not offer work release, and female inmates are typically sent to state prisons once sentenced because of overcrowding at the lockup in Uniontown. Solomon told Davis he would approve the arrangement, if Davis can arrange for it.
Davis said Cellurale will be responsible for any expenses associated with her possible incarceration in Greene County, instead of a state prison.
Cellurale works with her family at Cellurale Garden Center in Dunbar Township, Davis said.
In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop two additional charges of possession and contraband, according to court records.
Solomon accepted Cellurale's pleas after Judge Nancy Vernon had rejected them.
Vernon rejected the proposal when Cellurale told the judge on May 30 she smuggled the items into the prison out of fear for her safety because of an earlier attack on her at the prison.
When Cellurale went before Solomon on July 3 for a second try, she made no mention of the alleged attack.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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