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Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, Lewis, Arizona
November 6, 2009 Arizona Republic
Legal repercussions from Arizona’s longest prison-hostage saga continue dragging through court five years later, but with a curious twist: One of two women sexually assaulted during the drama is blaming the other rape victim for allowing the violence to get started. The Maricopa County Superior Court suit was filed three years ago by Lois Fraley, a correctional officer at Lewis Prison who was held in a guard tower for 15 days during 2004 by two inmates, Ricky Wassenaar and Steven Coy. Defendants include Canteen Correctional Services Corporation, which prepared inmate meals in a kitchen where the incident began, as well as a company employee who was raped by Coy. That employee previously sued the Department of Corrections and received an undisclosed financial settlement after alleging that prison officials negligently allowed violent felons to work with civilians in the kitchen. She blamed lax prison security, inadequate training and incompetence. In the ongoing case, attorney Joel Robbins, who represents Fraley, alleges that the female kitchen employee failed to close and lock an office door as required by prison rules. As a result, the suit says, Wassenaar and Coy were able to enter the office and overpower the Canteen employee and a DOC guard in the room. While Coy raped the kitchen worker, Wassenaar went to a nearby guard tower where Fraley and detention officer Jason Auch were on duty. According Department of Correction records, Auch failed to verify who was at the door before pressing an electronic buzz-in device. Wassenaar entered the tower, subdued both guards and gained control of an arsenal. Coy then joined him. Auch was released midway through the ordeal, while Fraley was held hostage and terrorized for two weeks. A peaceful surrender was arranged with both inmates promised out-of-state transfers to complete their prison terms. Fraley’s lawsuit says Coy was able to fashion a homemade shank in the kitchen using metal bands removed from milk cases that had been banned because of previous incidents. Although Auch’s decision to open the tower door was crucial later on, the suit argues, the rampage could have been averted if kitchen employee upheld their security responsibilities: “Ms. Fraley would never have had to endure the two weeks in hell but for Canteen’s conduct.” Canteen Corp. contends in legal filings that the company was responsible for preparing food, not overseeing inmates or maintaining security. The trial has been tentatively scheduled for late 2011. As a state employee, Fraley was barred from suing the Department of Corrections under terms of Arizona’s workers compensation law. According to court papers, she sued Canteen on behalf of the state, which owned the rights to her complaint. However, the state reassigned those rights back to Fraley, subject to a lien. Arizona previously sued its insurance company for refusing to honor liability coverage in the prison saga. The outcome of that case could not be determined.

March 3, 2004
The prison where two corrections officers were held hostage is plagued by unprofessionalism and complacency among officers, a panel reviewing the hostage standoff said Tuesday.  Procedures in the kitchen where the Jan. 18 incident began should also be reviewed. The two inmates, Ricky Wassenaar and Steven Coy, were armed with shanks and were able to overcome the only officer on duty there. In the future, the kitchen office should be locked and two officers should be on duty, panelists concluded.  The panel said the department should also assess whether to continue to employ civilian contract workers in the kitchen. One such worker was raped during the incident. Another failed to show up for work that day, and is being investigated for a possible involvement.  That investigation should continue, the panel recommended. The kitchen worker, who did not show up Jan. 18 and has since been fired by food service company Canteen, has refused to cooperate with investigators. The Arizona Republic is not identifying the man because he has not been named as a suspect or charged with a crime. Attempts to locate him for comment have been unsuccessful. Representatives with Canteen did not return calls seeking comment.  (The Arizona Republic)

March 2, 2004 
Investigators are looking into whether a civilian food-service worker is linked to a botched escape attempt that led to a 15-day hostage siege at the state prison in Buckeye.  The unidentified man reportedly was one of two food-service workers assigned to the Morey Unit kitchen area at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis on Jan. 18, when inmates Ricky Wassenaar and Steven Coy overpowered the other worker and two corrections guard.  "There were only the two employees scheduled for duty morning and when he didn't show up, inmate Ricky Wassenaar began asking in particular where he was," former Arizona Att General Grant Woods, co-chairman of an investigative panel reviewing the hostage situation, said Monday. "There is cert suspicious circumstances surrounding this employee."  Authorities said the employee in question left the food service company assigned to the prison shortly after the standoff began and thus far has refused to cooperate in the subsequent investigation.  (

Michigan, Wayne County

DETROIT (WXYZ) - An investigation is underway to determine if Wayne County has been overcharged by millions of dollars for the meals served inside all of their jails.  7 Action News has learned there is an audit going on right now of the food service contract. Privatizing prisoner meals inside Wayne County’s four different detention facilities and jails was supposed to save money. Back in 2010, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and Sheriff’s Department Director Sue Hall recommended that Canteen Correctional Services be chosen to provide meals to the inmates and to 350 jail staff members. Canteen Correctional Services is a division of Continental Distributors. The            Commission approved their five-year contract – which totals $26,143,976. But the 7 Investigators have learned that allegations of suspicious overcharges are part of a massive audit. Sources tell us that Continental is being scrutinized for allegedly billing the county for more meals than there are inmates inside the various lock-ups. “Is there any doubt in your mind that there are overcharges here?” asks 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo of Wayne County Commissioner Ilona Varga. “No doubt in my mind at all.  No doubt.  Numbers don’t lie,” says Varga. Varga also says a preliminary audit reveals that the taxpayers may have been overcharged by $6 million to $10 million for the meals. “It’s a lot of money, she adds. “You could buy a lot of sheriff hours with that for the jail. So we would not have to pay the overtime – that’s for sure.  And every dollar counts here at the county.” In addition to the audit, a spokeswoman for CEO Robert Ficano says the county’s Management and Budget Office started reviewing invoices from Continental/Canteen Correctional Services after they were “advised of irregularities.” A spokesman for Continental adamantly denies allegations of any overcharges for Wayne County.  He says the jail supervisors provide them with daily inmate population counts, which determine how many meals Continental Canteen serves each day.  The spokesman is also offering to allow 7 Action News to review its internal records, but told us they were not available to do that until next week. A spokesperson for the Wayne County Sheriff also disputes that there has been millions of dollars in overcharges for the food service contract. But Commissioner Varga isn’t taking their word for it -- she wants to hold a hearing to get to the bottom of allegations. “If we find anything wrong it will have to be turned over to the authorities,” she says. “I’m sure with the FBI being in the room already, at the county, this will be just one more thing they need to look at.” The FBI Can’t specifically confirm what they’re investigating, but sources tell me this jail food contract could certainly fall within the scope of high value contracts in WC that are currently being scrutinized by the feds. Meanwhile, they issued a statement today about a credit that it is due the Sheriff's Office regarding the food service contract: “An unexpected credit is in the works for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.  Officials recently discovered that food services were being billed at the same rate of the previous year when the agreement called for a 2.8 cent per meal reduction starting in the second year of the contract.  The change was outlined in the contract’s appendix, but was never implemented to billing starting in fiscal year 2011-2012.  The discrepancy surfaced this week during an internal billing review by jail officials.” “While the oversight amounts to a few cents per meal, as you can see it adds up when you’re serving thousands of meals a day.  Those are resources we can certainly use elsewhere in our operation,” said Chief of Jails Jeriel Heard in the statement. Continental issued a similar statement about the credit due to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office regarding the food service contract: “Under a five-year contract with Wayne County, Continental Distributors provides inmate food services at the county’s jail facilities, preparing and delivering nutritious meals three times a day for the adult and juvenile inmate population. Early this week, officials auditing outside contracts with Wayne County notified the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department about invoices it received for inmate food services that appeared to be inconsistent with our contract with them.  We reviewed the bills and found that a multi-year discount triggered in the second year of our contract had not been applied – something that both county supervisors and the company had overlooked.  We will credit the county for $237,000 and have taken steps to avert the potential of a similar problem recurring. Continental Distributors appreciates its partnership with Wayne County and its important duty in delivering the thousands of meals ordered daily by the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department places its orders for meals based on the daily census of inmates, juveniles and detainees, as well as other jail staff requirements, and we fulfill those orders in line with those requests.  Invoices are submitted to the county on a regular basis and pricing is adjusted to reflect the number of meals the Sheriff’s Department has validated it has received."