United States Penitentiary, Hazelton

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US Penitentiary, Hazelton
USP Hazelton.jpg
Location Preston County,
near Bruceton Mills, West Virginia
Status Operational
Population 1,500 (150 in minimum-security prison camp; 700 in Secure Female Facility)
Opened 2004 (Secure Female Facility opened in 2006)
Managed by Federal Bureau of Prisons
Warden Terry O'Brien

The United States Penitentiary, Hazelton (USP Hazelton) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates in West Virginia. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility has a satellite prison camp for minimum-security male offenders, as well as a Secure Female Facility that houses female inmates. A new medium-security facility is under construction at the site, which will have a capacity of 1,152 male inmates when completed.

The facility is located in Preston County, West Virginia, several miles east of Bruceton Mills.[1]


USP Hazelton was built due to an increasing need for modern facilities to house the growing number of federal inmates. The high security facility and the satellite minimum security prison camp cost $129 million to build and takes up 996 acres, and were designed by KZF Architectural Firm.

The 650,000-square-foot high-security facility, completed in 2004, contains six two-story buildings with 768 general housing cells and 120 "special housing cells" where especially dangerous prisoners are housed. In addition, there are several one- and two-story buildings which house various prison programs, as well as a factory where prisoners work. It is surrounded by a triple security fence with a taut wire system, and six guard towers around the perimeter.

The 27,000-square-foot minimum security Federal Prison Camp, also completed in 2004, is located outside the high security perimeter of the high-security facility. It consists of living units and prison program facilities and has a capacity of 128 inmates.

The 250,000-square-foot Secure Female Facility was completed in 2006 at a cost of $69 million. It contains two housing buildings which have a capacity of 512 inmates, as well as several program buildings which surround a courtyard area.[2]

Notable incidents[edit]

On October 7, 2007, inmate Jesse Harris was murdered at USP Hazelton. A long and complex investigation led to an October 2, 2012 indictment charging inmates Patrick Andrews and Kevin Bellinger with second-degree murder. Since both inmates were already serving life sentences, Andrews for two separate homicides in 1997 and 2000 and Bellinger for an attempted murder in 2007, they were also charged with murder by a federal prisoner serving a life sentence.[3][4] William J. Ihlenfeld, II, the US Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, announced that the Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against Andrews if he is convicted.[5]

On December 6, 2009, inmate Jimmy Lee Wilson was killed during a fight involving at least five other inmates. Five other inmates were injured during the fight, which was reportedly racially motivated, were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The facility was placed on lockdown and remained on lockdown for over a month after the incident until prison officials were reasonably certain that there were no further threats to the safety of staff and inmates. Wilson, 25, was serving an 11-year sentence for an armed robbery in Maine.[6][7] Wilson's killing remains under investigation.

In January 2012, USP Hazelton inmate Gerrod Thompson pleaded guilty to escape. Thompson, who was serving a 120-month sentence at the minimum-security prison camp, admitted that he commandeered a Bureau of Prisons truck on February 12, 2011 and drove it out of the camp to visit his wife. Thompson was apprehended later that day. He was sentenced to three additional months of incarceration.[8]

Notable Inmates (current and former)[edit]

Main Facility[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Danilo Velasquez 14341-111 Serving a life sentence. Former leader of the San Francisco branch of MS-13, a violent international street gang which engages in murder, assault, drug trafficking, theft and extortion; convicted in 2011 of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder.[9][10]
Joaquin Valencia-Trujillo 02440-748 Serving a 40-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2037. Former leader of the Cali Cartel in Colombia; extradited to the US in 2004; convicted in 2006 of drug trafficking conspiracy for directing the shipment of more than 100 tons of cocaine a year into the US over a ten-year period.[11]
Ali Abdi Mohamed 77997-083 Serving a life sentence. Somali pirate; pleaded guilty in 2011 to piracy for hijacking the civilian yacht Quest and taking hostages for ransom in 2010. Four hostages were killed during the incident. Ten co-defendants are serving life sentences at other federal facilities.[12][13]
David Kwiatkowski 94620-038 Serving a 39-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2046. Former hospital lab technician, pleaded guilty in 2013 to injecting himself with fentanyl using syringes meant for patients and replacing it with saline tainted with his own infected blood, causing a hepatitis outbreak in 2012 during which 46 people in three states were infected.[14]

Minimum-Security Camp[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Richie Farmer 16226-032 Serving a 27-month sentence; scheduled for release in 2016. Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner from 2004 to 2012 and standout basketball player for the University of Kentucky; pleaded guilty in 2013 to corruption charges for using state funds for personal expenses.[15][16][17]

Secure Female Facility[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Hawo Mohamed Hassan 15353-041 Serving a 10-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2022. Naturalized US citizen from Somalia; convicted in 2011 of providing material support for terrorism for soliciting donations in the name of charity, then funneling the funds to the Somali terrorist organization Al-Shaabab.[18][19]
Karla Chávez-Joya 16082-179 Serving a 17-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2018. Pleaded guilty to harboring illegal immigrants in connection with the 2003 deaths of 19 people who suffocated in a truck while being driven into Texas from Mexico, the most deadly incident in the history of human smuggling across the US-Mexico Border.[20]
Stephanie Schwab 79431-083 Serving an 11-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2021. Former MS-13 member; pleaded guilty in 2012 to engaging in a 13-day crime-spree in Virginia and Maryland in 2011, during which she committed bank robberies and carjackings, as well as participating in a major heroin distribution ring; known as the "Blonde Bandit."[21][22][23]
Harriette Walters 29155-016 Serving a 17-year sentence; scheduled for release in 2023. Former tax manager for the Washington, DC City Treasury; pleaded guilty in 2008 to wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion for issuing $48 million in false tax refunds to herself in the largest and longest-running embezzlement scheme in the city’s history.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "USP Hazelton". Federal Bureau of Prisons. 
  2. ^ "Expression of Interest: Architect/Engineering Services Regional Jail & Correctional Authority, West Virginia" (PDF). KZF Design. December 9, 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Federal Prisoners Charged for Murder of Cellmate". Federal Bureau of Investigation. October 3, 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Federal Prisoners Charged for Murder of Cell Mate". WDTV. October 3, 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Harvey, Matt (May 1, 2013). "Defense asks court to dismiss death penalty notice, cites funding". The Exponent-Telegram. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (January 6, 2010). "Lockdown continues after Maine man dies in prison fight". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (2009). "Investigation WV Inmate's Stabbing Death". WHSV. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Federal Inmate Enters Plea and is Sentenced in Federal Court". Federal Bureau of Investigation. January 25, 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Life Sentence For Gang Member In ’09 Daly City BART Slaying". CBS San Francisco. February 16, 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "MS-13 Gang Leader in San Francisco Sentenced to Life in Prison". US Department of Justice. February 16, 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Weimar, Carrie (February 2, 2007). "Cartel leader gets 40 years". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  12. ^ Nasaw, Daniel (October 3, 2011). "Somali pirates face hard time in US prison". BBC News. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Two More Somalis Plead Guilty To Charges Relating To Piracy Of Quest". US Department of Justice. May 25, 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  14. ^ http://www.unionleader.com/article/20131202/NEWS03/131209910
  15. ^ "Richie Farmer faces prison time". Associated Press. Sep 13, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Plea deal could land Farmer in prison for 2 years". The Independent. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "Richie Farmer reports to prison". WDRB. Mar 25, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Federal jury convicts two Rochester, Minnesota, women of providing material support to al-Shabaab" (PDF). US Department of Justice. October 20, 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  19. ^ Karimi, Faith (May 17, 2013). "2 Minnesota women sentenced for funding Somali militants". CNN. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Barnes, Steve (May 3, 2006). "National Briefing | Southwest: Texas: Sentencing In Smuggling Deaths". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  21. ^ "Police: 'Blond bandit' may have struck again". NBC News. November 29, 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  22. ^ Jouvenal, Justin (April 5, 2012). "Stephanie Schwab, Northern Va.’s ‘blonde bandit,’ pleads guilty". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "Manassas Woman Sentenced to 132 Months for Robberies, Carjackings, and Heroin Distribution". Federal Bureau of Investigation. August 9, 2012. 
  24. ^ Southall, Ashley (June 30, 2009). "17-Year Term for Official in Tax Scam". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°40′21″N 79°29′54″W / 39.67250°N 79.49833°W / 39.67250; -79.49833