United States Penitentiary, Hazelton

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US Penitentiary, Hazelton
USP Hazelton.jpg
Location1640 SKY VIEW DRIVE

BRUCETON MILLS, WV 26525

Preston County, West Virginia
StatusOperational
Population1,291 Total Inmates

1,172 Inmates at the USP

119 Inmates at the Camp
Opened2004
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenBryan M. Antonelli

The United States Penitentiary, Hazelton (USP Hazelton) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates in West Virginia. The high-security facility has earned the nickname "Misery Mountain" by the inmates who are incarcerated there. 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.

The facility is located in Preston County, West Virginia, several miles east of Bruceton Mills,[1] less than two miles west of the Maryland border.

The Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Hazelton has two prisons, physically adjacent but distinct: USP Hazelton and the medium-security Federal Correctional Institution, Hazelton constructed in 2015. Both are operated by the FBOP.[2]

Facility[edit]

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.[3]

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 (12550-007) and Kevin Bellinger (03532-007) 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.[4][5] 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.[6] Andrews is currently incarcerated at AUSP Thompson; Bellinger is at ADX Florence.

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.[7][8] 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.[9]

On October 30, 2018, notorious mob leader and long-time fugitive Whitey Bulger was found beaten with a sock-wrapped padlock and stabbed to death with a shiv in the facility after arriving there the previous day.[10] Bulger had been transferred from the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City to Hazelton on October 29, 2018.[11] At 8:20 a.m. on October 30, not long after his cell was unlocked so he could go to breakfast, the 89-year-old Bulger[12] was found unresponsive in the prison. According to The Boston Globe, and later confirmed by prison authorities, Bulger was confined to a wheelchair and had been beaten to death by multiple inmates armed with a sock-wrapped padlock and a prison-made knife.[13] His eyes had nearly been gouged out and his tongue almost cut out.[14][15] This was the third homicide at the prison in a 40-day span.[16] Correctional officers had warned Congress just days before the most recent Hazelton killing that facilities were being dangerously understaffed.[14] Massachusetts-based mafia hitman Fotios "Freddy" Geas is the primary suspect in orchestrating the killing of Bulger and he has not disputed his role.[13][17][18] Geas, 51, and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for their roles in several violent crimes, including the 2003 killing of Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, a Genovese crime family boss who was gunned down in a Springfield, Massachusetts, parking lot.[19]

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

Minimum-Security Camp[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Eric Conn 20834-032 Now at FCI Hazelton Former disability attorney, convicted of defrauding the Social Security Administration of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Richie Farmer 16226-032 Released from custody in 2015; served a 27-month sentence. 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.[20][21][22][23]

High-Security Facility[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Photo Status Details
Whitey Bulger 02182-748 James J. Bulger - 1959 mugshot.jpg Murdered in custody on October 30, 2018 Notorious long-time fugitive, crime figure and leader of Boston's Winter Hill Gang; Murdered by other prisoners within hours of his arrival .[24]
Frank Salemme 24914-013 Frank Salemme (mugshot).jpg Now at Brooklyn MDC Boston mobster who became a hitman and eventually the boss of the Patriarca crime family.[25]
Fotios (Freddy) Geas 05244-748 Serving a Life Sentence Massachusetts mobster and hitman. Suspect in Bulger death.[14]
James Alex Fields Jr. 22239-084 Serving a Life sentence White supremacist, pleaded guilty in 2019 of 29 federal hate crime charges using his car to harm counter-protestors during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32 year-old Heather Heyer and injuring up to 19 more.
Juan García Ábrego 09935-000 Serving a Life Sentence Mexican former drug lord who is reported to be the former head of a criminal dynasty along the Mexico–United States border now called the Gulf Cartel.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "USP Hazelton". Federal Bureau of Prisons.
  2. ^ Murphy, Matt (October 30, 2014). "Workers Raise Prison Safety Awareness". Charleston Gazette-Mail. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  3. ^ "Expression of Interest: Architect/Engineering Services Regional Jail & Correctional Authority, West Virginia" (PDF). KZF Design. December 9, 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  4. ^ "Federal Prisoners Charged for Murder of Cellmate". Federal Bureau of Investigation. October 3, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "Federal Prisoners Charged for Murder of Cell Mate". WDTV. October 3, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  6. ^ Harvey, Matt (May 1, 2013). "Defense asks court to dismiss death penalty notice, cites funding". The Exponent-Telegram. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  7. ^ "Lockdown continues after Maine man dies in prison fight". Bangor Daily News. Associated Press. January 6, 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  8. ^ "Investigation WV Inmate's Stabbing Death". WHSV-TV. Associated Press. 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "Federal Inmate Enters Plea and is Sentenced in Federal Court". Federal Bureau of Investigation. January 25, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  10. ^ Williams, Pete; Winter, Tom; Schapiro, Rich; Blankstein, Andrew (October 30, 2018). "Notorious mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger killed inside prison". NBC News.
  11. ^ Williams, Pete; Winter, Tom; Schapiro, Rich. "Notorious mob boss Whitey Bulger found dead in prison". NBC News. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  12. ^ [1], The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Lia Eustachewich (October 31, 2018). "Meet the mob hitman suspected of killing Whitey Bulger". New York Post. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c Prison drops visits after Whitey Bulger slaying, Boston Herald, Laurel J. Sweet, November 2, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  15. ^ "Whitey Bulger's eyes reportedly almost gouged out in deadly attack". CBS News. October 31, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  16. ^ Newport, Natalie (October 30, 2018). "Notorious crime boss Whitey Bulger has been reportedly killed in prison". WTAE. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  17. ^ Sweet, Laurel J. (November 1, 2018). "Springfield hitman eyed in Whitey Bulger's slaying". Boston Herald. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  18. ^ "This mafia hitman, Fotios 'Freddy' Geas, hated 'rats'. He is suspected in slaying of US mobster Whitey Bulger". South China Morning Post. November 1, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  19. ^ "'Whitey' Bulger killed with a 'lock-in-the-sock,' mafia hitman eyed, officials say". NBC News. November 1, 2018. Retrieved November 1, 2018. "He did not like or respect anyone who was a rat," said the lawyer of one of the inmates under suspicion.
  20. ^ "Richie Farmer faces prison time". ESPN. Associated Press. Sep 13, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  21. ^ "Plea deal could land Farmer in prison for 2 years". The Daily Independent. September 5, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  22. ^ "Richie Farmer reports to prison". WDRB. March 25, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  23. ^ "Richie Farmer Released To Lexington Halfway House". WLEX. December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  24. ^ "'Whitey' Bulger: Mob hitman suspected as prison killer". BBC News. November 1, 2018.
  25. ^ Eustachewich, Lia (November 1, 2018). "This man may have waited 38 years for his revenge on Whitey Bulger". New York Post. Retrieved November 2, 2018.

External links[edit]

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