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Carbon fires prison warden after inmate assault

The Carbon County Prison board fired Warden Timothy Fritz on Thursday morning after an investigation into an assault of an inmate on Feb. 7 in the prison. Corrections officer Dexter Sandy was also terminated for his part in the incident.

Fritz and two prison guards, Sandy and Gerald Anthony Babb Jr., were suspended with pay, effective March 17. Babb, 31, resigned April 6 and charges were filed against him on April 8.

According to the affidavit, Babb, punched, choked and sprayed an inmate while he was restrained.

Surveillance footage showed the victim was strapped into a restraint chair in the multipurpose room at the facility and was trying to move or wiggle over to a bunk bed.

The inmate was successful in moving close enough to the bed to pull it.

Two minutes later, Babb and Sandy are seen trying to remove the victim’s grip from the bed, but the inmate was resisting.

Eventually, they move the inmate, still restrained in the chair, to the center of the room.

During this time, court papers say, Babb punches the victim in the face twice and then begins to choke him. He then leaves and returns one minute later, shaking a canister before spraying the victim in the face.

Two minutes later, Sandy returns to the room and tips the chair that the victim is restrained to and lays it on its back with the victim now facing the ceiling. He then returns and picks up the chair and victim, surveillance footage shows.

Sandy said that he provided aid to the victim and Babb did not help.

Sandy has not been charged to date.

Carbon County prison board and commissioners also approved a memorandum of understanding with the state Department of Corrections for an acting deputy warden to be brought in to oversee the operations until a new warden is hired. Laura Banta, who is currently the acting superintendent at SCI Retreat.

Banta is a Panther Valley High School graduate and former Lansford resident.

Timothy Fritz