United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg
United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg.jpg
LocationKelly Township, Union County,
near Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Security classMedium-security (with minimum-security prison camp)
Population1,034 [731 at the USP, 303 in prison camp] (April 2022)
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenJeffrey Butler

The United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg (USP Lewisburg) is a medium-security United States federal prison in Pennsylvania for male inmates. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. An adjacent satellite prison camp houses minimum-security male offenders.

USP Lewisburg is in Kelly Township, Pennsylvania, near Lewisburg.[1][2][3] It is in central Pennsylvania, 170 miles (270 km) west of Philadelphia and 200 miles (320 km) north of Washington, DC.[4]


Initially named North Eastern Penitentiary, USP Lewisburg was one of four federal prisons to open in 1932.[5][6] It was designed by Alfred Hopkins.

USP Lewisburg had a prison riot in November 1995. Although started by only 10 prisoners, more than 20 visited the hospital that November 1, with one prisoner recording multiple broken bones and missing teeth. Many were sentenced to the "hole" and over 400 were transferred.[7] This incident thrust the Penitentiary into the national spotlight, where it gained much of its current notoriety.

A local non-profit group, the Lewisburg Prison Project, assists prisoners here and in the surrounding area with issues of conditions of confinement.[8]

USP Lewisburg was the focus of the 1991 Academy Award-nominated documentary Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House by filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond. The one hour long film described conditions inside the prison and focused specifically on the abolition of parole within the federal system and the fears held by many prisoners about re-integrating into society upon their eventual release from prison.[9]

As of 2009, USP Lewisburg was designated as a Special Management Unit intended to house the most violent and disruptive inmates in the Bureau of Prisons. Although most USP Lewisburg inmates are housed in the SMU, there remains a work cadre of approximately 200 inmates in the USP's general population.

As of February 2021, USP Lewisburg was officially moved from a high-security institution to medium security. It will now be the third location within the BOP for Communications management units (CMU), alongside USP Marion and FCI Terre Haute. Offenders in the CMU will mostly be terrorists and inmates the BOP classifies as security threats who will be held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. The Special Management Unit (SMU) that was operated at Lewisburg is now at USP Thomson, which opened in 2019.[10]

Funding issues[edit]

USP Lewisburg entrance gate.

In July 2008, correction officers at USP Lewisburg expressed concerns about underfunding. Over the past four years, union leaders and other officials had been lobbying in an attempt to quell staff reductions and cutting costs. The Federal Bureau of Prisons had proposed $143 million in possible spending cuts, including not replacing vehicles and equipment, eliminating overtime, reducing corrections officer training, and a possible cut in officer staff positions.[11] Under such conditions, many of the Correctional Officers expressed concerns about their own safety.

Notable inmates (current and former)[edit]

  • †Inmates released prior to 1982 are not listed on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.
  • ††Inmates in the Federal Witness Protection Program are not listed on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Organized crime figures[edit]

Inmate name Register number Status Details
Ronnie Trucchio 00705-748 Currently incarcerated at FCI Schuylkill, serving a life sentence. New York mobster with the Gambino crime family who ran The Ozone Park Boys crew during the 1990s.
David Thai 38263-053 Currently incarcerated at FMC Devens Founder and crime boss of the Vietnamese Born to Kill gang during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and was one of the largest purveyors of counterfeit watches in the New York counterfeiting industry. Was convicted of murder, extortion, racketeering alongside a multitude of charges in 1992 by a federal judge in Brooklyn.[12][13]
Whitey Bulger 02182-748 Held at USP Lewisburg from 1963 to 1965. Organized crime boss in Boston, Massachusetts in the 1970s and 1980s; FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive until his capture in 2011; known as "Whitey."[14][15]
John Gotti 18261-053 Held at USP Lewisburg from 1969 to 1972. Boss of the Gambino Crime Family in New York City from 1985 to 1992; convicted of murder, murder conspiracy, loansharking, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, bribery, and tax evasion in 1992.[16]
Paul Vario 16522-053 Held at USP Lewisburg from 1973 to 1975. Former Caporegime and Underboss of the Lucchese crime family in New York City; portrayed by Paul Sorvino in the 1990 film Goodfellas.[17]
Enoch L. Johnson Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1941 to 1945. New Jersey political boss and racketeer; served as an inspiration for the character Enoch Thompson, who is portrayed by Steve Buscemi in the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire.
Henry Hill Unlisted†† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1972 to 1978. Former associate of the Lucchese crime family in New York City; portrayed by Ray Liotta in the 1990 film Goodfellas.
Thomas DeSimone Unlisted† Sentenced to ten years for hijacking Associate of the Lucchese crime family in New York City; portrayed by Joe Pesci in the 1990 film Goodfellas.[18]
Jimmy Hoffa Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1967 to 1971. American labor union leader who disappeared in 1975. Sentence was commuted in 1971.
Melvin Williams 47842-066 Spent a portion of his sentence at USP Lewisburg; released in 1996. Former organized crime figure in Baltimore, Maryland; convicted of heroin trafficking in 1985; served as an inspiration for the character Avon Barksdale in the HBO series The Wire.[19]
Gerard Ouimette 02519-070 Died while serving a life sentence in 2015 Former mafioso from Providence, Rhode Island; associate of the Patriarca crime family
Anthony Provenzano 00625-050 Held at USP Lewisburg from 1966 to 1970. Also known as Tony Pro. Was a caporegime of the Genovese crime family New Jersey faction. An associate of Jimmy Hoffa. President of Teamsters Local 560 in Union City, New Jersey.
Osiel Cárdenas Guillén 62604-079 Transferred to USP Terre Haute.[20] Succeeded Juan García Ábrego as leader of the Gulf Cartel; extradited to the U.S. from Mexico in 2007 and pleaded guilty to threatening to murder U.S. law enforcement agents, drug trafficking and money laundering.[21][22]


Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Edwin Cortes

Ricardo Jimenez



Held at USP Lewisburg from 1981 until 1999; their sentences were commuted by President Bill Clinton. Puerto Rican nationalists; convicted in 1981 of seditious conspiracy and other charges for their roles in numerous bombings aimed at achieving independence for Puerto Rico.[23]
Abdel Nur 64655-053 Served a 15-year sentence, released 2020 Convicted in 2012 for conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack at JFK Airport, deported to Guyana in 2020
Joe Doherty 07792-054 Held at USP Lewisburg from 1991 until his deportation to Northern Ireland in 1992. Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) escapee who fought an ultimately unsuccessful nine-year legal battle against extradition and deportation.

Political prisoners[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
George Sylvester Viereck Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1943 to 1947. Convicted in 1943 for not registering as a Nazi agent, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act.[24]
Herbert John Burgman Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1949 to 1952. Convicted of treason in 1949 for making numerous propaganda broadcasts for the Nazis.
Douglas Chandler Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1948 to 1963. Convicted of treason in 1948 for making numerous propaganda broadcasts for the Nazis.
Alger Hiss Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1950 to 1954. American lawyer, government official, author, and lecturer; accused of being a Soviet spy and subsequently convicted of perjury in 1950.[25]
Carl Marzani Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1950 to 1951. Italian-born American political activist, publisher, OSS and State Department official who concealed his CPUSA while in government.[26][27]
John Williamson Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1950 to 1955. Member of the CPUSA Central Committee.
Bayard Rustin Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1944 to 1946. Civil rights activist and socialist.[28]


Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Kirby Logan Archer 79077-004 Serving 5 life sentences Found adrift on September 24, 2007, in a lifeboat under circumstances that triggered suspicion. He hijacked the fishing charter vessel the Joe Cool and participated in the murders of the vessel's crew.
Andrew Caspersen 75827-054 Transferred to a Residential Reentry Facility in New York City Wall Street swindler
Robert Hansen 80462-011 Held at USP Lewisburg from 1983 until his transfer to state prison in Alaska in 1988. American serial killer; convicted in 1983 of murdering four women near Anchorage, Alaska; suspected of 15 other murders.
Roy Gardner Unlisted* Served several years of a 75-year sentence at USP Atlanta; attempted to escape in 1926. Notorious bank robber and escape artist; stole over $350,000 in cash and securities from banks and mail trains in 1920 and 1921.[29][30]
Willie Aikens 01732-031 Released in 2008; served 14 years. Former Major League Baseball player; convicted in 1994 of selling crack-cocaine.[31]
Christopher Jeburk 09029-021 Currently serving a life sentence. Now at USP Thomson. Bank robber and former FBI Ten Most Wanted fugitive; kidnapped bank teller Amy Shaw and her family, then escaped from prison twice before he could be sentenced for his crimes.[32][33] Several weeks into his sentence, he was transferred here from Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary after a sharp-eyed prison guard caught him trying to escape a third time by hanging on to a laundry truck before it could reach the front gate.
Larry Lawton 52224-004 Released in 2007. Transferred to USP Atlanta and others.[34] Ex-jewel thief and organized crime member. Lawton now helps and inspires younger people to stay out of prison and change their life path.
Steve Reid Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from 1969 to 1971. American jazz drummer and conscientious objector to the Vietnam War; convicted of draft evasion in 1969.
Robert Lee Johnson

Robert Thompson



Incarcerated at USP Lewisburg in 1965; Johnson was murdered at USP Lewisburg in 1972; Thompson was released in 1978. Johnson was a US Army sergeant and Thompson a US Air Force clerk; convicted of espionage in 1965 for passing classified army documents to the Soviet intelligence agency known as the KGB.
Chevie Kehoe 21300-009 Serving a life sentence White supremacist convicted on charges of racketeering, racketeering in aid of murder and robbery conspiracy in connection to the kidnapping, torture and murders of William and Nancy Mueller and their 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell. Co-defendant Daniel Lewis Lee was executed for the murders at United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute on July 14, 2020.
John Wojtowicz 76456-158 Held at USP Lewisburg from 1973 to 1979. Bank robber portrayed by Al Pacino in the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.
Carl Upchurch 28862-117 Released from custody in 1982. American activist, author and educator; portrayed by Omar Epps in the 2002 film Conviction.
Sean Ahern 02638-049 Serving 294-month sentence for bank robbery scheduled release in 2024 Lead singer and rhythm guitarist of "Prisonbilly" band The Reclusos. Rumored to have recorded the live CD Welcome to the Big House inside the prison in 2006.
Wilhelm Reich Unlisted† Held at USP Lewisburg from March 1956 until his death in November 1957. Austrian psychoanalyst; convicted of contempt of court in 1956 for violating Food and Drug Administration regulations.
Franklin Delano Floyd Unlisted† Transferred to the Georgia State Prison On death row for murder.
Samuel Roth

Ralph Ginzburg



Released. American authors convicted of obscenity; their cases were the subjects of landmark Supreme Court rulings on freedom of sexual expression.
Richard McCoy Jr. Unlisted Deceased American skyjacker who hijacked United Airlines Flight 855, extorted $500,000 dollars, and parachuted out the back. Escaped from prison in 1974 by stealing a garbage truck and ramming the gate. McCoy was later killed in a shootout with FBI agents.
Jayme Gordon 98605-038 Released on November 3, 2018, from federal Residential Reentry Management housing in Philadelphia. American artist who tried to sue DreamWorks claiming to have came up with the idea for Kung Fu Panda, and altered pictures of a story he copyrighted as proof.
B.G. 31969-034[35] Currently at FCI Williamsburg Rapper from New Orleans.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "USP Lewisburg Contact Information." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on February 11, 2013. "USP LEWISBURG U.S. PENITENTIARY 2400 ROBERT F. MILLER DRIVE LEWISBURG, PA 17837"
  2. ^ "BAS12M34211939136_000.pdf Archived 2014-05-03 at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on February 11, 2013.
  3. ^ "BAS12M34211939136_002.pdf Archived 2014-05-03 at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on February 11, 2013.
  4. ^ "BOP: USP Lewisburg". Bop.gov. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  5. ^ "Learning from Lewisburg: 4. Pre-industrial Lewisburg". Facstaff.bucknell.edu. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
  6. ^ "New Prisons" Popular Science, August 1932, pages 16 & 17 for drawings
  7. ^ prisondesk@igc.apc.org. "Update about what happened at Lewisburg Penitentiary". Archived from the original on September 26, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
  8. ^ Lewisburg Prison Project.
  9. ^ Doing Time: Life Inside The Big House (1991).
  10. ^ PennLive, John Beauge | Special to (March 22, 2019). "Lewisburg penitentiary to become medium-security institution; staff will be unaffected". pennlive. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  11. ^ Morton, Gina (July 8, 2008). "Prison workers say they're at risk". Dailyitem.com. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
  12. ^ Steven Lee Myers (October 24, 1992). "Life Sentence for Scourge of Chinatown". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  13. ^ English, TJ (November 15, 2011). Born to Kill: The Rise and Fall of America's Bloodiest Asian Gang. Open Road Media. ISBN 9781453234273.
  14. ^ "Whitey Bulger, the FBI and MK Ultra". Crimelibrary.com. Archived from the original on January 13, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
  15. ^ Boeri, David (May 30, 2012). "'Whitey' The Prisoner: A Master Manipulator". WBUR. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  16. ^ "John Gotti Running The Mob – New York Times". The New York Times. April 2, 1989. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  17. ^ Gene Mustain, Jerry Capeci (2002). "Chapter 9: "Club Lewisburg"". Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti. Penguin. ISBN 9780028644165. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  18. ^ May, Allan (December 14, 2012). "The Lufthansa Heist Revisited – Robert's Lounge Crew – Crime Library on". Trutv.com. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  19. ^ "Melvin Williams Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story". Biography.com. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  20. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator". Federal Bureau of Prisons. United States Department of Justice. Retrieved April 17, 2020. BOP Register Number: 62604-079
  21. ^ "Extradition: Past cases highlight limits – Brownsville Herald: Valley". Brownsville Herald. March 5, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 17, 2014. Retrieved November 22, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ JOHN M. BRODERPublished: September 8, 1999 (September 8, 1999). "12 Imprisoned Puerto Ricans Accept Clemency Conditions – New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  24. ^ "George Viereck: Diplomat or Propagandist?". The University of Iowa. November 18, 2010. Archived from the original on December 7, 2022. Retrieved December 7, 2022.
  25. ^ "The Alger Hiss Story". Homepages.nyu.edu. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
  26. ^ Marzani, Carl (August 1952). We Can Be Friends: Origins of the Cold War. Topical Books Publishers. pp. 7 (introduction), 14 (jail with Thomas). Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  27. ^ "Carl Marzani, 82, 'Loyalty' Case Defendant, Dies". The New York Times. December 14, 1994.
  28. ^ Brooke, Aslan. "A lavender look at black history". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
  29. ^ "Roy Gardner". www.outlawlegends.freeservers.com. Archived from the original on May 11, 2013.
  30. ^ Colt, Duane (December 29, 2011). "the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  31. ^ Corson, Pete. "The Atlanta Federal Penitentiary's Hollywood connections". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  32. ^ "A Fugitive's on the Loose – New York Daily News". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/media/publications/fbop_ser_monthly_reports_1999jan-dec.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  35. ^ 31969-034 – BOP

Coordinates: 40°59′17″N 76°54′54″W / 40.9880°N 76.9149°W / 40.9880; -76.9149