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MAHONING COUNTY JAIL Corrections staff errs by releasing inmate



Published: Thu, June 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The inmate's absence went unnoticed until the court called and inquired about him.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Sheriff's Department has something in common with Britney Spears' hit song "Oops, I Did It Again."

For the second time in six weeks, the jail released an inmate who should not have been let go.

Eleven deputies were disciplined last month when Sheriff Randall A. Wellington blamed them for letting Brian Lamar James free when he should have been transferred to the state penitentiary.

Confusion arose because another inmate named Brian James was to be released on probation.

Here's what happened: The latest snafu began Tuesday afternoon when Paul A. Nadal, 25, of West Judson Avenue appeared in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a hearing on a domestic violence charge.

Nadal, already on probation to the Adult Parole Authority on a weapons conviction, reached a plea agreement, said Maj. Michael Budd.

The new charge was dismissed and Nadal stipulated that he had violated his parole, Budd said. Judge Robert G. Lisotto set sentencing for June 14.

With that, Nadal returned to the jail, where he'd been since arrested May 10.

"He was supposed to stay until the sentencing," Budd said Wednesday.

Staff let him go: Corrections staff, though, let him go from the jail Tuesday after he returned from the court hearing, the major said.

Nadal's absence went unnoticed until 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, when Judge Lisotto's court, hearing somehow that the inmate had been released, called the jail, Budd said.

Deputies checked Nadal's list of jail visitors and then started looking for him at each location. They found him at 10:17 a.m. at his sister's house on Lauderdale Avenue.

Budd said the man intended to turn himself in.

"We were very lucky to find him at his sister's. He knew he wasn't supposed to leave," Budd said. "We probably won't pursue an escape charge because what happened appears to be a clerical error."

Investigation under way: The sheriff's department internal affairs division has launched an investigation, Budd said.

Budd said a new set of checks and balances is being implemented to avoid another such release.

He acknowledged that similar sentiments were spoken the last time this happened.

The sheriff could not be reached.

meade@vindy.com




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