Lawsuit Claims Prison Ignored Gang Threats to Inmate

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – CoreCivic’s Northeast Ohio Correctional Center and its staff failed to protect an inmate who was severely beaten in his cell, despite previous pleas to officials that he was being threatened by members of an in-house prison gang, claims a civil complaint filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

According to the filing, which seeks to-be-determined monetary damages, William Genco, while he was incarcerated, began receiving threats of violence and extortion from prisoners associated with the Gangster Disciples gang.

The Gangster Disciples is a street gang formed in Chicago in the 1970s that operates across the country, according to published reports. It reportedly is active in numerous prisons as well.

Genco informed the staff of NEOCC, a private prison at 2240 Hubbard Road, about the threats and “the impending danger he faced,” the complaint states.

Named as defendants are CoreCivic, doing business as Northeast Ohio Correctional Center; Christopher LaRose, warden; and parties identified as Investigator Weinman and Unit Manager Ms. Malhoun.

The complaint states NEOCC officials placed Genco in segregation and limited privilege housing for a period of time, during which the inmate reached out to prison officials “begging for help and protection.”

However, Genco was released to the general inmate population on July 24, 2018, according to the filing. The following day, two prisoners entered his cell, demanded that he “had to pay” and attacked him. Documents say Genco suffered a cut on his face and a swollen eye.

Genco then informed prison officials about the attack, including the gang investigator, and asked for protection, court filings say.

“He received no protection from NEOCC,” the complaint states.

A second assault occurred on July 29, 2018, the complaint alleges, when inmates entered Genco’s cell, “covered the window in the cell door with a blanket, and brutally attacked Genco for several minutes, leaving him covered in blood.”

As a result, Genco “sustained significant injuries, including a broken rib, perforated lung, and lacerations,” which required hospitalization, the lawsuit says.

Attorneys for Genco say that CoreCivic’s corrections officers failed to make the appropriate rounds and cell checks to ensure Genco’s safety and failed to intervene and stop his beating.

CoreCivic spokesman Ryan Gustin said the company does not comment on pending litigation as a matter of policy.

“What I can tell you is we take very seriously our responsibility to care for the individuals in our facilities and we work hard to ensure those entrusted to our care are treated respectfully and humanely,” Gustin said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of these individuals is our top priority and we take numerous preventative measures to deter assaultive behavior.”

NEOCC houses prisoners awaiting trials in federal court as well as inmates serving sentences handed down by state courts. CoreCivic had a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house immigrants there who were awaiting deportation or a court ruling. The contract expired Feb. 29 and was not renewed. The prison’s capacity is about 2,000 beds.

CoreCivic is publicly traded and based in Nashville. It owns 45 prisons across the country and provides management services at 12 facilities “owned by government partners,” states its website.

On Monday the company reported second-quarter revenue of $472.6 million and net income attributable to common stockholders of $22.2 million.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.