State pays $120,000 to settle prison claims

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The state continues to pay for allegations of abuse at the State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh's F Block, according to documents provided to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday.

Receiving $50,000 each are two former corrections officers who were accused of abuses, disciplined and then exonerated in court, according to releases provided following requests under the state Right to Know Act.

A former inmate who claimed that he was physically and sexually abused got $20,000, according to another agreement.

The state admitted no liability.

The state previously paid a total of $236,000 to three other former F Block inmates, and still faces a number of lawsuits by former prison inmates, as well as by corrections officers who were disciplined but not convicted.

The officers who settled most recently are Sean Storey of Mount Washington, represented by attorney Eric Stoltenberg, and Kevin Friess of Bellevue, represented by attorney Lawrence Fisher. They were among seven officers who were accused of hazing and abuses on the prison's F Block, and suspended without pay in April 2011.

All charges against both men were dropped or dismissed, and they sued current and former correctional officials, alleging their due process rights were violated.

Both quit the prison system.

The $20,000 settlement goes to one of the dozens of men who said they were abused while inmates on F Block. The 39-year-old man, represented by attorney Wayne Chiurazzi, sued two corrections officers and five current or former supervisors at the prison.

The Post-Gazette does not name people who say they were victims of sexual abuse. Like many F Block inmates who claimed they were abused, the plaintiff had been charged with sex crimes, though he was found not guilty of those. He was imprisoned for insurance fraud.

His accusations were among those presented in the criminal case against former corrections officer Harry F. Nicoletti. Common Pleas Judge David Cashman acquitted Nicoletti of all charges related to the man's claims.

A jury later found Nicoletti, 62, of Coraopolis guilty of 27 counts related to his interactions with other inmates, and not guilty on 53 counts, including all of the alleged sexual crimes.

One other officer, Tory Kelly, 42, of Aliquippa was found guilty of crimes. He was sentenced to probation for witness intimidation, simple assault, official oppression and terroristic threats.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter @richelord. First Published April 21, 2014 12:16 PM


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