Inmate gets 10 years for harassing prison officers

The inmate threatened to kill guards and their families, a prosecutor says.

YOUNGSTOWN — An Ohio State Penitentiary inmate has drawn a 10-year additional prison term after he pleaded guilty to 15 counts of harassing, assaulting or intimidating corrections officers and lieutenants and others in 2007 and 2008.

Having been escorted to court by three corrections officers and two corrections lieutenants, Michael A. Jones, 24, formerly of Struthers, drew the sentence Thursday from Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The judge made that sentence consecutive to a nine-year prison term Jones is already serving for a March 11, 2006, felonious assault on a deputy sheriff while Jones was in the county jail.

The new sentence is also to be served consecutively to a five-year term Jones is serving for intimidating a witness, meaning Jones will be locked up for a total of 24 years.

“This conduct is egregious conduct. It is completely unacceptable,” Judge Krichbaum told Jones before sentencing him. “The more I think about this, the more angry I become,” the judge added.

J. Michael Thompson, assistant county prosecutor, who called for a 15-year consecutive sentence, gave a statement on behalf of the victims. “This particular defendant has truly crossed the line, including threats to kill guards and their families and including an attempt to stab a guard. They would simply ask that he be held accountable for that,” he said.

A long, additional prison sentence for such behavior is justified because: “The state has to protect the safety and the lives of officers who are willing to take on such a dangerous job,” Thompson said after court.

In the case for which Jones was sentenced Thursday, Jones had earlier pleaded guilty to nine counts of harassment with a bodily substance, three counts of intimidation, one count of felonious assault and two counts of assault.

The felonious-assault charge pertains to his having used a sharpened piece of a plastic smoke-detector cover to superficially scrape a corrections officer’s arm through an opening in his cell door June 30, 2007, after Jones had threatened to kill that officer. The other assaults on corrections officers occurred May 23 and Nov. 10, 2008.

Eight of the charges of harassment with bodily substance pertain to his spitting at corrections officers or lieutenants, Thompson said. The ninth pertains to his throwing urine and feces on a corrections lieutenant, Thompson said.

The intimidation charges pertain to threats Jones made against a prison unit manager, a corrections officer, and an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper, who investigates assaults committed at the prison.

Jones threatened to kill the trooper while she was investigating another disturbance Jones had created, Thompson said.

“I never tried to stab an officer,” Jones told the judge, adding that security provisions in the super-maximum security prison would make assaulting guards impossible.

The judge denied Jones’ request to withdraw his plea, saying Jones was adequately represented by his lawyer, Walter Ritchie: A thorough plea hearing took place; and the last-minute request was unreasonable.

Ritchie told the judge nobody was seriously hurt in the assaults and that his client has said he no longer wants to hurt anyone. Jones came from a broken home, has mental-health problems and has been locked up for all but three weeks of his life since he was 14, Ritchie said.

In the Mahoning County jail incident, Jones microwaved and threw a boiling oil concoction at the deputy, who said he suffered painful burns, eye hemorrhaging, headaches and dizziness because of that attack. Jones also removed the radio from the deputy’s belt and beat him with it.

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