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Oregon Whistleblower 2nd Attempt to File Criminal Charges Against Corrections OfficialsTim King Salem-News.com
Case is in the hands of Oregon State Police detective...
(SALEM) - Former prison guard turned Whistleblower William Coleman, is in the process of filing criminal charges with Oregon State Police, against twelve state officials with the Oregon Dept. of Corrections (DOC). Coleman alleges these 12 were directly involved in a complex ongoing pattern of criminal activity when he was a corrections officer at the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP).
William Coleman says the evidence exists, "It is detailed, we have all of the ORS codes intact, we know exactly who they are and what they have done in terms of committing illegal activity and using their power of influence to extort money, smuggle illegal goods, practice overt racism and give 'authorization' to hate crimes, even Attempted Murder, to silence an inmate who is an 'inconvenience' to the state."
He says in that case, the victim was a Black 'jailhouse lawyer' who was filing cases on behalf of inmates against Oregon and winning, "DOC officials let him get stabbed when they had a credible report that it was going to happen, they failed to protect an inmate from a near-fatal attack. They knew an inmate with a history of stabbing other prisoners stated clearly to me directly that he was going to carry out this crime and that he had 'authorization from above' to do it. I told the officials above me, they sent me back to work. They refused to even separate the inmates temporarily."
And then the stabbing of Clayton Howard took place.
"The assailant was a convicted multiple murderer serving several consecutive life sentences, named William "Dollar Bill" Thomas, who was shipped quietly to a prison in New Jersey immediately after this took place. He didn't use a shank, Dollar Bill somehow managed to his hands on an ice pick," Coleman added.
The guards at OSP put Howard back in his cell, Coleman, who was not present, believes they wanted to let him bleed to death, but a prison nurse was advised of what had taken place, and she forced prison officials to call an ambulance. Clayton Howard lived, now he has an undeniable case against the state of Oregon.
The first day that Coleman returned to work after the stabbing, he heard guards laughing in the room where they reviewed in-house video. "They were cracking up, I didn't know what was going on, I wanted to know what was so darned funny, so I looked in". Coleman says a group of guards were watching the stabbing of Clayton Howard repeatedly, and getting a real kick out of it, until they realized William Coleman was in the room.
Coleman said he knew he would someday be able to bring this act and others to light, and if there is integrity in Oregon, some people in the prison system are on the verge of being in real trouble. All of the details of the stories mentioned in this article are available via hyperlinks below.
"Once they're charged and arrested, they'll roll over, they'll do it quick," Coleman said in regard to the officials named in his allegations.
"They're getting older, they don't want to go to prison for the rest of their lives and never see their grandkids. So they'll talk, they will talk to keep themselves out of prison, and we'll learn who killed Francke too, I think all of these people are tired of living with it, people will talk."
Coleman blew the whistle on these crimes years ago while still working as a corrections officer, and again after leaving his job at OSP. In turn, the state of Oregon created a case against Coleman for having smuggled cigarettes as a prison guard.
Seemingly overnight, William Coleman, a full police academy graduate, found himself under arrest and facing a hefty 40-year prison term if convicted. Coleman was taken to court, assigned a public defender, and then via the testimony of a state prisoner on his behalf, found not guilty of all charges by a unanimous jury of his peers in Salem.
He contended all along that he had absolutely no involvement with tobacco smuggling, but that it was indeed something his superiors and fellow corrections officers were directly involved in. He provided names, dates, etc. The state failed to act upon that information, no investigation took place. Also revealed during Coleman's trial, were a number of serious allegations against state officials that involved heroin smuggling and one inmate's overdose death. Again, Oregon officials by all accounts ignored the information related to deep corruption and major crimes in the DOC.
The agency that charged Coleman with contraband smuggling is the Oregon State Police; the same agency that he is now filing charges against DOC officials through. Oregon State Police were directly involved in the failed criminal case against Mr. Coleman, going so far as to interview hundreds of inmates at OSP, asking each if they had knowledge of Officer Coleman smuggling contraband. A single inmate, described as hailing from the white supremest population at OSP, agreed to testify, and that was it, and it wasn't enough. State Police detectives put a great amount of time and resources into trying to convict Coleman of crimes a unanimous jury said he absolutely did not commit. Oregon State Police traditionally investigate crimes involving the DOC, that absolutely created a conflict of interest in this case.
While Coleman filed charges through the Oregon Department of Justice, but it is in the hands of a state police detective who is not returning phone calls to Coleman during these early critical days of his allegations.
Coleman recognizes that there are people in the system who would go to great effort to make his allegations go away, so he filed everything with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum at the Oregon Department of Justice, and other agencies. I asked Coleman what he thought about the state police detective failing to contact him.
"I talked to people at all of these agencies, the first person from state police was very responsive and said, 'We've been talking about this case for the last two days.' But the detective assigned to this said he was not available, and that he would call on Tuesday. There are only so many days that he has to get this moving, or the period expires. I have expressly communicated this to the detective, I have left three phone messages with no return calls, and I fear he's stonewalling me. I do hope that isn't the case. If it is, then I plan to file charges for Obstruction of Justice and that is a serious crime, it is time for these games to end."
May 3, 2013 is the deadline for criminal charges to be filed against these "corrupted officials," as he describes them. William Coleman has completed his own investigation and says he has the evidence to prove that hate crimes took place. Whether the state police will do their job, he says, is the question. "It took state police one day to get an indictment against me, on the say day. I filed a lawsuit against the state hospital years later, on July 1, 2009. State police went to Grand jury and got a indictment against Coleman, who asks, "Will state police do what's right? Will state police hold their own accountable? I guess we will see by May 3, 2013."
The charges that William Coleman filed allege a number of very serious crimes and a web of corruption involving actually far more than 12 DOC officials; it branches out far beyond that. Coleman says this new hopeful case and the officials involved, are directly tied to decades of DOC corruption that Michael Francke, Oregon's former Corrections Chief, was brought here to investigate and eliminate more than two decades ago. Unfortunately, he was stabbed to death two days before turning over the results of his yearlong investigation and findings to the state legislature. His body was "discovered" on the steps of the Oregon DOC administration building itself... the historic "Dome Building".
The state officials making money through the prison system then --- are still there, only they hold much higher positions and many are approaching retirement. Coleman says a clock has always been ticking on the Francke case; a patsy named Frank Gable was convicted for the crime when it clearly, obviously, was not nearly that simple. "The time has come for the truth of the Francke case, and also the revelation that Oregon's prison system is fully charged with racially biased criminal corruption," Coleman said.
He says the White versus Black problems are regularly accentuated by the use of racist tactics. One that I've written about, involves prison staff checking only Black inmates for food theft on chicken night. Another was the prison administration's decision to play a movie called "Downfall" when they knew it was about Hitler's last days, on the prison TV sets. It fomented a very serious racial tension period at OSP where Jewish inmates and other minorities refused to exit their cells. Coleman says the fallout was so bad that he can't be sure if any serious injuries occurred as a result of it. He says the ranks of corrections officers include many who seem to want to do the right thing, but their goodwill is tempered by corruption and a racist overtone at all times.
William Coleman has been through a lot while trying to work as a Black law enforcement officer in Salem, Oregon.
He worked for the Oregon State Hospital as a guard after leaving the DOC, and would soon find himself and another heterosexual, married Black officer, accused of a "homosexual sex act" by Salem Police after they were approached in their unmarked car while on patrol by a man who Coleman believes, took them to be two African-Americans probably making a drug deal.
As the man approached he reached below his hoodie shirt and Coleman and the other officer thought he was going to produce a firearm. As a state hospital security officer, Coleman was unarmed, but he exited his vehicle and took his radio out and slammed it on the roof of the car, feigning having a weapon. The suspect, an adult on a child's BMX bike, fled the location, then called 911 and reported two Black men in the Lee Cemetery having sex.
Salem Police responded code-3 and as noted, treated the two Black officers with disrespect, the Salem Police officer, Waymon Hubbard, would not reveal his name of badge number. The guy on the bicycle, Joe Salazar, was a convicted wife beater and child molester with many appearances in the local newspaper for crimes against his wife and children. Both Coleman and the other officer were fired that day.
As a guard, Coleman had gone to that local newspaper, the Statesman Journal, and revealed what was taking place in the prison. Never reporting any of Coleman's allegations, they instead strung him along, and served as a tool for the police and prosecutors. That actually led to a sizable protest against this Gannett-owned newspaper for racism. Protestors spent most of one sunny day surrounding their office with signs and marching and singing. I know my words are direct and harsh but we believe it is the responsibility of media to not be a part of the problem.
Racism is a severe issue in Salem, but the Statesman Journal chose to ignore the very dire problems Coleman brought to their attention. The newspaper covered the gut-wrenching crimes of the witness Joe Salazar one day, and portrayed this violent convict as a credible witness when covering Coleman's case against the Oregon State Hospital.
Realistic coverage of Coleman's allegations of corruption and racist crimes in the local newspaper would probably have saved lives; their staff literally is complicit in covering up the corruption. What I don't understand, is how a reporter could resist a full fledged prison guard willing to reveal serious crimes inside the prison, while he still worked there... that is Pulitzer Prize winning type stuff!
Mr. Coleman finally had his day in civil court. While defending the right of the state hospital to fire Coleman and the other officer over unfounded allegations, the Oregon Dept. of Justice presented the criminal case against Coleman over "cigarette smuggling" to the jury as something that was ongoing; they and the court and Coleman's own lawyer did not adequately cause this jury to understand that the charges were not proven, and that he had very specifically been found not guilty by a unanimous jury. Indeed, Mr. Coleman, who has never been convicted of any crime in his life and who is qualified as an Oregon state law enforcement officer, was portrayed to the nearly all-white jury as a dangerous Black man who threatened and intimated people.
This description could not be more distant from the truth. Those of us who are familiar with the case were shocked when the jury ruled against Mr. Coleman in the Oregon State Hospital case. The state's presentation and 'version' of Mr. Coleman's former criminal case was one designed to make jurors see him as a criminal, rather than a fully vindicated man, and it was used to prevent him from winning and being compensated for his firing and other claims.
William Coleman said, "I never did anything to deserve any of this. It has greatly damaged my reputation, my integrity, my career... But most of all, there are terrible things happening in the prison here in Salem that officials are willing to do anything to protect, and nobody, absolutely nobody, has had the power to do something about it, but we have it now. Everyone in law enforcement already knows about this, and while there is a lot of complicity, it hasn't thoroughly saturated the ranks of police and prosecutors and there are good people, including our new attorney general, who I believe, are willing to do the right thing."
He added with regard to the state of Oregon and the smuggling charges, "They were out to destroy me. They wanted me to take a plea deal and they were shocked that I turned down every offer, I wasn't going to plead guilty to anything because I was not guilty of anything. But they are, and the time has come to get this show on the road".
Previous articles about Oregon's prisons:
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With almost 25 years of experience on the west coast and worldwide as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor, Tim King is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.
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