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Judge denies plea deal for former Westmoreland jail guard

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Assistant District Attorney James Hopson barely got through presenting a plea agreement Tuesday when Judge Al Bell cut him off.

“Absolutely not,” Bell said in rejecting the agreement prosecutors reached with Melissa Ann Boggs, 43, of Latrobe in connection with a sexual assault at the Westmoreland County Prison.

Boggs had been set to plead guilty to a count of institutional sexual assault Tuesday and once Hopson recommended a sentence of one year's probation, Bell declined to accept the agreement.

“That plea is absolutely an abomination,” Bell said.

Boggs was arrested in November by county detectives after the inmate filed a complaint against her. She had been working as a part-time corrections officer in the prison and quit in September 2011 when a year-long internal investigation began. The investigation failed to uncover wrongdoing.

During her year of employment, Boggs allegedly started a relationship in April 2011 with a 28-year-old inmate from Acme who was serving a 23-month sentence after his parole was revoked in a 2008 case for attempted theft and simple assault.

Investigators said the inmate and Boggs would exchange letters and spent nights talking while he worked. In June 2011, Boggs allegedly went into the inmate's cell and told his cell mate to put on headphones and face the wall so the pair could have sex, according to investigators.

Boggs admitted to sexual activity with the inmate, but denied having intercourse with him, according to investigators.

Defense attorney Patricia Elliot argued that the recommended sentence is within the standard guidelines, but Bell wasn't swayed. Elliot said the case will be placed on the trial list.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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