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Schuylkill County prison guards charged in assault

Published April 22. 2011 05:00PM

Pottsville City Police have filed charges against three Schuylkill County Prison guards following an investigation into an alleged assault at the prison. The announcement came just a short time after a special meeting of the Schuylkill County Prison Board on Wednesday.

The incident occurred at 9:30 p.m. on April 7, when three corrections officers allegedly entered a cell and participated in a physical confrontation with an inmate, Brandon Moyer, 23, of Pottsville. Police filed charges Wednesday against James Walter Preneta, 27, of Shenandoah; John David Yeager, 55, and Michael John Galavage, 37, both of Pottsville. Galavage and Yeager were charged with harassment, while Preneta was charged with simple assault, a second degree misdemeanor. The charges were filed with Magisterial District Judge James Reiley, Pottsville.

The incident resulted in facial injuries to Moyer, including a fracture and significant bruising to his left eye.

County prison board members received an update on the situation during an executive session at Wednesday's special meeting. President Judge William E. Baldwin, who chairs the board, provided the update, noting the prison's internal investigation has "not been completed and a few minor details still need to be resolved." Mantura Chwastia, human resource director, reported that five correctional officers had been suspended, with pay, but refused to release their names.

Following the prison board meeting, the Schuylkill County Commissioners held a work session hiring Atty. Thomas Pellish to conduct a Loudermill Hearing for the officers involved in the incident. A Loudermill Hearing gives the employee(s) the opportunity to present testimony prior to any disciplinary action. The employee has the option of a closed (private) or open hearing.

A Schuylkill County Corrections Officer was filed last September for violating the county's sexual harassment policy, while two guards were fired, and one suspended, in January in connection with an alleged abuse incident at the prison.

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