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3 guards fired; 2 suspended in Schuylkill

Published May 05. 2011 05:19PM

Three correctional officers at the Schuylkill County Prison in Pottsville were terminated and two received suspensions in action taken by the county prison board at a special meeting Wednesday at the courthouse.

A motion by controller Melinda Kantner, a member of the board, to fire Warden Eugene Berdanier, died without a second to the motion and it failed to be brought up to a vote.

James Preneta, of Shenandoah; and Jack Yeager and Michael Galavage, both of Pottsville, were terminated. David Reeves, Pottsville, received a six-week suspension without pay; and David Carduff, Ashland, one-month suspension without pay. The action against all five members was by a six-to-one vote.

President Judge William Baldwin, Commissioners Mantura Gallagher, Francis McAndrew and Frank Staudenmeier, Sheriff Joseph Groody and District Attorney James P. Goodman voted for the action taken, while Kantner cast the lone negative vote.

In her motion to fire the warden, Kantner accused him of failing to fulfill his duties. She claimed he had failed to submit a "game plan" to the board as was requested and recommended by an investigating team. She also claimed he failed to carry out required fire drills and was lax in his supervision duties at the prison.

Judge Baldwin defended the warden about the game plan, explaining the warden's task of management was greatly extended with the captain and a lieutenant absent from his staff for a length of time. Berdanier said he would submit a game plan by next Monday, but made no response to Kantner's accusation.

As to the action against the prison guards, Baldwin reported an investigation disclosed the guards beat up a 20-year-old inmate in his cell, failed to comply with regulations, gave false information to prison investigators and failed to properly carry out their duties.

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