M. Swiger loses bid for parole

WARREN -- The Ohio Parole Board rejected Michael Swiger's request for parole from prison, but he did get a projected release date of just more than five years from now.
A spokeswoman for the board said today that Swiger, 34, formerly of Tiltonsville, Ohio, met with the board at the Trumbull Correctional Institution and was told that though he won't be released now, he could get out of prison Jan. 2, 2008.
That's his projected release date, said JoEllen Culp, explaining that, nine months before that date, the parole board will automatically review his prison record to determine if there have been any disciplinary or other problems that would delay his release.
Barring that, no further parole hearing will be required and he will be released on parole on or after Jan. 2, 2008, she said.
Swiger has served 12 years of a 21-to-53-year sentence on his 1990 conviction in Summit County for kidnapping with a gun specification and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Roger Pratt, known as Butch, near Akron in June 1988.
Pratt's family led a letter- and petition-signing drive opposing Swiger's efforts to win release, arguing that the seriousness and brutality of the crime warranted that Swiger serve his complete sentence. Michael Pratt, Roger's brother, couldn't be reached for comment this morning.
Roger Pratt was lured to Akron from his home in Munhall, Pa., and beaten to death in a wooded area. His body was then hauled back to Pennsylvania and buried in a shallow grave on a farm near Pymatuning Reservoir, where it lay undetected for 16 months.
Swiger isn't the only one serving prison time in Ohio in the case.
His brother, Edward Swiger, 36, is serving 40 years to life for his conviction of murder with death specifications, a gun specification and kidnapping and won't be eligible for parole until 2033.
He had been Butch Pratt's friend and roommate at Thiel College in Greenville. Authorities said Pratt was killed to keep him from telling what he know about burglaries and a furniture store arson in Greenville.
Parole denied
Linda J. Karlen, 49, of Greenville, is serving seven to 15 years for conspiracy to commit kidnapping in his death and has had her parole denied twice.
Even if Michael Swiger is released from prison in Ohio in 2008, he won't really be free.
He will be returned to Pennsylvania, where he must serve five to 10 years on a guilty plea to arson in the 1988 burning of a Greenville furniture store in which Karlen was a partner.
Authorities said it was an attempt at insurance fraud, and both Karlen and Edward Swiger face the same Pennsylvania prison term in that arson. Both pleaded guilty to starting the fire.

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