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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

2 Corrections employees demoted for inmate transfers



UPDATE: The state has identified the employees involved. Correctional program administrator David Tune, 51, is suspended without pay and two others are being demoted to lower-paying jobs: John McLaughlin, 44, chief of classification and central records, and John Becker, 52, senior management analyst supervisor.

TALLAHASSEE -- Two Department of Corrections employees have been suspended and demoted and a third also faces disciplinary action after an internal investigation of suspicious transfers of inmates between prisons.

Improper influence by outside agents in the movement of inmates "was in fact present on a large scale, much too large," Corrections Secretary James McDonough said today. "The scale of this alone tells me there was too much outside impact within the system."

McDonough confirmed that he acted after identifying about 300 suspicious transfers that he called "unfair" and "unethical." But he declined to identify the employees involved, saying that his actions were administrative and no crimes were committed.

The two employees were suspended without pay and demoted to lower-paying jobs.

The investigation, first reported last week on, began last July after a monitored inmate telephone call raised suspicions that money and favors may have played a role in how inmates are transferred between prisons.

At any given time, thousands of inmates are queued up seeking transfers to different prisons. The reasons vary from being closer to relatives to being in a prison with air conditioning to being housed at a prison perceived as less harsh for inmates.

McDonough said the inmate transfers were influenced by two teams, each comprised of an ex-DOC employee and a lawyer, who would charge from $3,000 to $6,000 to get an inmate moved.

Six other employees whose conduct was also investigated were cleared of any wrongdoing, McDonough said. The prison chief said that Gov. Charlie Crist's office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were fully briefed on the case.

Previous coverage: State investigates prisoner transfers

-- Steve Bousquet, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:19am]


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