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Officials Say Could be Hundreds Charges In Operation Ferret

March 16, 1988

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Saying a special investigation uncovered ″a massive network″ of corruption in city prisons, prosecutors Tuesday announced charges against seven guards and two inmates and said there would be more.

District Attorney Ronald Castille said during a press conference outside the Philadelphia Detention Center that arrests could reach into the hundreds before the 18-month investigation known as ″Operation Ferret″ is completed. Officials said the investigation was prompted by widespread reports of corruption and complaints within the system.

″The investigation will potentially yield the largest number of arrests related to official misconduct by correctional officers in this country’s history,″ Castille said. He declined to give specifics.

The city has five correctional institutions with between 8,500 and 9,000 inmates. The institutions are run by 1,700 employes, 1,400 of them are guards.

The first charges stemmed from two incidents, an escape from Laurel Hall minimum security pre-release unit and an aggravated assault against a prisoner at a downtown YWCA, another pre-release facility.

Those named in a grand jury presentment were charged with crimes ranging from aggravated assault to escape.

In the Laurel Hill case, guard Dennis Tiest, prison cook Stanley Suder, and inmate Kenneth Lynch were charged with helping inmate John Longendorfer escape last July. Longendorfer was serving time for terroristic threats and indecent assault.

In the other incident, which occurred Feb. 16, six correctional officers were charged with an unprovoked assault on inmate William Kennedy. Kennedy was hospitalized for four days after the attack, Castille said.

Castille said the beating was allegedly in retaliation for Kennedy reporting a guard asleep at his assigned post.

Those charged were officers Edward Ricks, Sammie Rogers, Clemon Davis, Christ Taylor, Charles Favano and Sgt. Peter Jones.

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