LAWRENCE COUNTY Inmates, ex-guard charged with bringing drug to jail
City police are investigating more drug use at the jail.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Seven people, including a former corrections officer, have been charged with bringing OxyContin into the Lawrence County jail.
City police were called to the jail after inmate Glenn Benegasi was taken to Jameson Hospital after reporting that he had taken OxyContin, a prescription drug, and was in pain.
Police said he was treated at 2:20 a.m. July 8 and told officials he had taken four 80 mg tablets. Court papers said Benegasi did have opiates in his system.
According to an affidavit to support the charges, Benegasi told police his grandmother, Vera Frank, 74, of North Cedar Street, who legally has a prescription for OxyContin, gave Benegasi's girlfriend 10 pills.
The girlfriend, Elena LePore, 33, of West Clayton Street, took the pills and $30 to Tire Express in New Castle and gave them to Albert Tedrow, a work-release inmate, court papers said.
Tedrow told police when he returned to the jail, he gave the pills to another inmate, Ross Edward Seliga, 34, of Logan Avenue, Sharon. The affidavit said Seliga then gave the pills to another inmate, Thomas George Farah II, 45, of Park Avenue, New Castle, who passed them on to corrections officer David B. Kennedy, 22, of Ellwood Road, New Castle.
Kennedy then went to Benegasi's cell and threw in a folded up piece of paper containing six OxyContin tablets, police said. Police said Kennedy no longer works at the jail.
Police said they have a telephone conversation taped at the jail between Benegasi, Frank, LePore and Farah discussing how the drugs would be brought into the jail.
Charges were filed Tuesday against all seven.
Benegasi, 31, of North Cedar Street, is charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver and possess a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and criminal use of a communication facility.
Frank, Kennedy, LePore, Tedrow, Farah and Seliga are each charged with criminal conspiracy to possess a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
Frank, LePore and Farah are also charged with criminal use of a communication facility.
Matthew Mangino, county district attorney, said the arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into drugs and contraband being brought into the jail and more arrests are pending.
Last week the district attorney's office petitioned common pleas court to halt the jail's work-release program for 48 hours to allow police to investigate how contraband is getting into the lockup. That request came after an inmate died Aug. 13 of a suspected drug overdose.
Mangino said Tedrow, the work-release inmate, and Farah, who is on child-care release during the day to care for his children, are still leaving the jail daily, but he expects their release privileges will soon be revoked.