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Inmate’s Family Files Suit In His Death

October 25, 1991

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A spokesman at Graterford state prison disputed a family’s claims that their inmate relative died after he was beaten by guards.

Graterford spokesman Alan LeFebvre said prison officials were under the impression Richard Mayo died from AIDS. Mayo’s family filed a lawsuit Thursday, saying he died from his injuries and a lack of medical care.

Mayo was one of 19 prisoners transferred Nov. 6, 1989, to Graterford from Camp Hill state prison, partially destroyed by riots the previous month.

The inmates were met at Graterford by guards in full riot gear, who beat each of the prisoners as they got off the bus, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court.

LeFebvre said five inmates complained of injuries suffered at the hands of guards. Two correctional officers were fired and two others suspended for acting in an ″unprofessional manner,″ he said. Three officers resigned a few weeks after the incident.

A federal grand jury is investigating.

Mayo was hit with riot sticks, kicked, shot repeatedly with a ″stun gun″ and had his face was smashed into cell bars, breaking his lower false teeth, the suit says.

After stripping Mayo of his clothes, guards penetrated his anus with a riot stick, which they then rubbed on his face, the suit says.

He spent 10 days in Montgomery Hospital in Norristown before being returned to the prison. The suit says he received no further medical care and was prevented from making phone calls.

Mayo, whose age was not given in the suit, was transferred to a state prison in Dallas, Luzerne County, where he died June 8, 1990.

LeFebvre said Mayo left Graterford within a month of returning from the hospital.

″He was given medical care while at Graterford, and I’m sure he was given medical care while at Dallas,″ LeFebvre said.

Phone calls to the office of Mayo’s attorney, Joseph F. Busacca, went unanswered Thursday evening. His home telephone number was unlisted. No number was available for Mayo’s parents, Rafaele and Pascuala Mayo of Lancaster.

In a previous newspaper report, his sister Carmen acknowledged Mayo suffered from AIDS. LeFebvre said he had heard that Mayo died of complications associated with the disease. Luzerne County Coroner George Hudock, reached at home Thursday night, said he could not recall the case and his records were locked in the courthouse.

According to the suit, Mayo’s injuries included bruised kidneys, complications of the left lung, bruises over the left rib cage and a cut lip.

The suit names Joseph Lehman, director of the state Department of Corrections; Donald Vaughn, acting superintendent of Graterford; William Winder, deputy superintendent of Graterford; 42 correctional officers; and eight ranking officers.

The Mayo family is seeking punitive and compensatory damages from each of the defendants in excess of $50,000.

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