Former inmate threatens action over alleged assault at Northumberland County Prison
SUNBURY - Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini said a female inmate was released five months early from the county prison last year because of an alleged assault by a female guard.
Former Northumberland County President Judge Robert B. Sacavage ordered the release of Stephanie Olin, 29, of Sunbury, to the county re-entry program after her attorney filed a complaint, Rosini said Thursday.
Olin was serving 9 to 23 months for her role in a cocaine ring, but was released Sept. 16. She had been sentenced May 20.
This week, Olin's new attorneys asked the county to fire the guard or face legal action.
The allegations continue to be investigated, Rosini said.
Just this week, the county prison board agreed to enter into a contract with retired Sunbury police detective Degg Stark to investigate Olin's allegations and any future criminal problems at the prison. Stark is a private investigator who will be paid $48 per hour, Commissioner Chairman Vinny Clausi said.
The district attorney's office has not employed a detective since May 2012, when retired state trooper Andrew Orzehowski held the post. The DA's detective typically handled prison investigations.
Clausi, who has been critical of prison administration, provided the media with documents showing Sunbury police were notified of the alleged incident involving Olin, but weren't involved in her release.
A letter received by Sunbury police in May from Olin's attorney, John McLaughlin, of Danville, said Olin was assaulted. Sunbury police spoke with Rosini, who asked Sacavage to have adult probation officers investigate the allegations. The probation officers found Olin's claims credible, and Sacavage released Olin to her home to finish out her sentence.
While Rosini agrees the allegations were found to be credible, he noted she was released before that determination was made through the investigation.
Sunbury police, who do not investigate prison incidents, referred the investigation to state police at Stonington, who declined to conduct a probe.
New letter to board
The complaint apparently went no further, until recently.
Sunbury attorneys Kymberley Best and Timothy Bowers, representing Olin, sent a letter to the prison board and county commissioners demanding the guard accused of harassment be fired or they would file a federal lawsuit.
"I believe the whole board needs to look at this," Clausi said. "We cannot afford to go to federal court and waste money."
He said the prison liability policy requires a $100,000 deductible to address any claim.
"You can't deny the police report. It shows clearly that something happened to that girl," he added. "For a judge and district attorney to get together and release her from jail shows they believed her."
Best and Bowers said they are pleased the county is investigating and will allow some time before possibly taking legal action.
Olin, who remains in the re-entry program, pleaded guilty to possessing more than 35 grams of cocaine during a Northumberland-Montour Drug Task Force raid in May 2011 at her home.
She appeared before Sacavage, who retired at the beginning of January, and was sentenced to 9 to 23 months after a debate surfaced over whether Olin would be handled through drug treatment court instead.
At sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Michael Toomey said the mandatory sentence in the case could be 12 to 24 months in state prison. But he agreed to the lower range of sentencing because Olin had stayed clear of trouble since her arrest.