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Trini in US jail pleads guilty

By Gyasi Gonzales

 A TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO national was among nine inmates at a United States jail who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to rioting at a Mississippi Correctional Centre in 2012, which left one prison officer dead.

The T&T inmate, Bertil James, 38, was among the group of mostly Mexican nationals, along with one man from Egypt, who took part in the riot that occurred on May 20, 2012. 

According to a web-based media house, Gulf News, the privately-run prison facility, located in Natchez in Adams Country, Mississippi, houses inmates convicted of crimes while being in the US illegally.

One guard, Catlin Carithers, was killed and 20 people were injured. Other officers were taken captive during the riot and held hostage for several hours by some of the inmates.

The riot was started by Mexican gang members within the prison, known as the Piasas, who cited poor meals, sub-standard medical care and guards who were disrespectful to them as being the catalyst for their violent demonstration.

The nine men were before Senior US District Judge David C Bramlette III, who heard their guilty plea to one count of rioting in a federal correctional facility.

Each accused faces a maximum prison sentence of ten years, a fine of $250,000 and supervised release term of three years.

According to Gulf News, the men caused damage to the facility to the tune of US$1.3 million.

The defendants will be sentenced May 29 and June 12.

The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the US after deportation for being in the country illegally.

 The prison is owned by Nashville, Tennesse-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation’s largest private prison companies.

The case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

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