Seven Arrested in Connection with Lackawanna County Prison Scandal

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SCRANTON -- Seven men are now charged with a widespread sex abuse scandal in the Lackawanna County Prison. According to court papers, they used their roles as corrections officers to force female inmates to perform sex acts.

John Schnipes, a former Archbald councilman who resigned from the prison in 2013, is facing the most serious charges. He's accused of sexually assaulting several females dating back to 1998, giving them cigarettes among other things in exchange.

According to court papers, after one assault one victim "...felt so ashamed and disgusted, she attempted to commit suicide by hanging herself in her cell."

Scnhipes' attorney calls these charges ridiculous.

"These allegations are made by people with very little credibility, if any at all, and they're motivated by, they're seeking a payday,” said Robert Trichio, John Schnipes' attorney.

Mark Johnson is accused of providing female inmates with heroin and cocaine in exchange for sex.

One inmate testified before a grand jury that Johnson "…made her give him oral sex while he was smoking crack in the closet."

Paul Voglino, George McHale, George Efthimou, and Jeffrey Staff are all accused of the same, using their roles as guards to assault female inmates.

James Walsh has been accused of the same. His attorney says he looks forward to defending him.

"I know him as a previous district attorney as an individual who had to work in law enforcement over at the jail for a decade and I would describe him as a family man and an upstanding person in the community,” said Chris Caputo, attorney for James Walsh.

Court papers describe a culture of covering up sexual abuse within the prison, indicating other employees knew about the assaults but kept quiet.

A lawsuit has been filed in connection with alleged sexual abuse.

"I mean I think the charges are trumped up. I really do. I understand a grand jury was convened down in the Norristown area and the AG's are looking to make a splash back up in this area, but to me, based on the evidence that I know and the information that I know, these charges are simply not credible,” said Bernie Brown, who is representing Staff, Johnson, and Voglino.

The seven men are free on bail until their next court appearance on February 23.


  • Danzig

    I only hope these tards have to go work at mcdonalds, because thats where they belong. A C-O is the lowest form of life, I bet most could not handle being a cop.

  • frarnkies

    what a bunch of american dirtballs these guards are, bunch of straght up scums.
    Very good that i see you in N. Scranton and gonna visit u as well

    • Roflmao

      Scumbags in Jail? Really? Does that amaze you?
      I think your a little on the slow side there fella, maybe a lil more than a lil….

  • Jennifer

    I don’t understand why there are male prison guards in a woman’s prison to begin with. If it became law that all guards in a woman’s prison should be female sexual abuse would be reduced dramatically and we wouldn’t keep hearing cases like this one.

    • captian

      in a county jail there are male and female inmates housed get your facts straight first before posting your crap jennifer

  • Not the shoe factory snowflakes!

    The way you snowflakes are worried how criminals fair in jail, makes me wonder what exactly you think jail is for? Its not the shoe factory or choir boys club. As mentioned who would want to work there, so why are you acting so surprised its all F’ed up? Your a bunch of morons acting like retards. STay away from Jail!!! I’ll plug for the After Prison Show (APS) on a popular video posting site if you want a little real jail entertainment.

  • Lock Them Up

    No wonder the prison guard union endorsed Trump. If these guys are an example of their members they have a lot in common with him.

  • SJL

    I love the attorney’s comment that the allegations are from people with “very little credibility”. Isn’t your job to defend criminals who, might I say, have very little credibility?

  • stacey marks

    good for all of them ibelive all the alligations needed to clean that place up years ago they just never thought they would get caught about time they get the rest of them to they think they are above the law

  • Concernedviewer

    Yet ANOTHER NEPA incident of grown adults having trouble with their sexy time. These people in that area just don’t know what they’re doing sexually or how to. What is going on there!? Something is seriously wrong – the end result is lurching street roamers, youth sports diddlers, prison guards flogging themselves off of prisoners trying to get aroused, and high school football stands full of closet pervs who are totally enamored by those kids in uniforms. I just wish it would stop!

  • Tebow

    Wow, guess they all figured what kind of credibility does an inmate have. Well, now the ‘higher ups’ will get their pay day and use that same thing in court to get these men off (after they already have with these inmates) again and again. All about money and the inmates do not stand a chance in this case because the whole, credibility thing will be the main verbiage used. I mean does the prison not have security cameras all over and see when and where these inmates are at all times? Sounds like another bad episode of Orange is the New Black!

  • SMDH

    WOW—quite the assortment in this morning’s lynch mob below. Hopefully none of you are on the jury for any of these defendants. You’ve basically convicted these guys on a WNEP news story; something we all know is scant on information in almost every case. So it appears, given that nothing evidentiary has been presented in this story, you all have convicted them based on your hatred of law enforcement, hatred for the area (and probably your own lives), and personal bias. Do yourselves a favor and get a copy of the Constitution and read it. I especially enjoy reading the comments that trash the Scranton area; written by people with a reading/writing level of about 9th grade. You damn the area and agree with the trash written below—so basically you are talking about yourselves since you are part of the NEPA community. I’d be willing to bet that if these comments were “voice” and not “text” it would sound like a Heynabonics convention, lol. If it is so bad–perhaps you should move to another state. Or have your life choices or skill sets so economically disadvantaged you that you can’t move because you “can’t afford to”? Pretty much all of the comments below earn a level 5 SMDH award. With that said,ignorning the dumb comments below, if they are indeed guilty then they should be punished to the full extent of the law but let’s just wait for a trial before we get out the ropes.

    • CO

      they all could have been set up also, all it takes is for inmates to accuse them and it automatically needs to be investigated,

      • Stone cold busted!

        That was probably the idiot post of the year. The Commonwealth doesn’t function on hearsay, “set-up” evidence. They obviously have good hard evidence. Oh, and by the way, I’d trust any inmate over any jail guard all day long!

      • Ziggy

        CO, it was not only investigated but 7 arrests were made. (probably more when they start flipping on each other) If your looking for some overtime hours, I hear LCCF is looking for a few good men.

      • LT

        the prison system does run on hear say from inmates its called PREA they can report a guard or anyone even if it is false accusations and the guard or whoever they accuse cant do anything in retaliation against them the guard goes under restrictions and is investigated to figure it out when its found out to be false the guard has it on his record that he was accused of PREA and cant get it erased from his record and the inmate laughs about it that’s not right that they can do this as many times as the inmate wants to and more and more guards are getting in trouble for nothing just because an inmate doesn’t like the way a guard tells them to do something then the inmate shouldn’t be in prison if he is so good the system is for the inmate not the guards or anyone who works for the DOC

      • Stone cold busted!

        LT, (lettuce tosser?) but seriously, the grand juries don’t operate on hearsay. Your friends, co-workers, whoever they are, got caught red handed. No punt intended. I hope for your sake your not employed there! Good luck if you are!

      • LT

        Stone cold you must be an inmate or exinmate to not see what’s going on in these prisons yes there are bad guards but there are good ones also that like their jobs if you never worked for the DOC then do comment what you don’t know but only see on the news and LT stands for lieutenant

      • Stone cold busted!

        Is LT suppose to intimidate me??? I know what is stands for. That’s why I asked “lettuce tosser?” And is this how you intimidate your inmates too? You guys just don’t learn do you. Will you be the next one on the evening news? I’ll be looking for the “LT” sir, yes sir!

      • LT

        No intimidation just respect if inmates like you run your mouth this is the treatment you get exactly what you deserve I’ll be seeing you again I’m sure stone cold busted yep that’s correct busted

      • LT

        no stone cold I wont be any where near you in your cell ill make sure you go into the RU good luck with your bunk mate bubba he likes guys like you hahaha

    • Timothy Tingley

      Why would you speculate about the income level of the people (the majority on here) who disagree with you? What does that have to do with anything? Nobody cares about grammer on an internet comment board, except idiots like you, who are desperate to portray themselves as somehow more cultured and intelligent than people who have a worldview based on reality. Yours is based on a world that only exists in your troubled mind. Get out of the area, and everyone knows Lackawanna and Luzerne county is the bottom of the bottom in legal ethics.You probably think Sandusky and Joepa got a bad rap, too.

      • SMDH

        Tingley, you’re hilarious. First I didn’t speculate about anyone’s income level. I’m merely pointing out that most of the people who gripe about the area will complain that they don’t have the money to move or other trivial excuse and maybe they should care about grammar and spelling—it’s an indication of education level and intelligence and is a key factor whether or not someone has the capacity to really put together a cogent thought. Although in your case, your grammar and spelling appear to be pretty good but I am suspect of your ability to assemble anything cogent. As for being ‘desperate to portray” myself as anything—I don’t need to. I’ve led an incredibly successful and blessed life and am quite comfortable in who I am and the values I hold dear. Thank you very much, nice try—stop by and pick up your consolation prize. As for getting out of the area, I haven’t lived in NEPA full time in almost 30 years but still maintain a vacation home in the area and I’m proud to say that I am from there—at least the people I know and associate with; family and friends who are good, hard-working and honest people. As for your comment “yours is based on a world that only exists in your troubled mind”, L O L. What clinical qualifications do you have to even make that nonsensical comment? Sigmund Freud for Dummies??? And that “everyone knows” line. That sounds really intelligent. Everyone knows, huh? As if there is some mystical universal font of knowledge that is all knowing and all seeing and omniscient and you are the arbiter of such and a member of that intellectual tribe. Stop while you are still ahead—I’ve read your other posts and I’d be happy to engage in a battle of wits with you any time, bozo—even in my sleep. LOL@you.

      • Timothy Tingley

        Your response perfectly demonstrates the fact that you are a pseudo-intellectual windbag. You are going to defend the legal ethics of Lackawanna and Luzerne county? Seriously. Cash for kids? I’ll debate you anytime, anywhere you are a total phony. I bet you have a library that smells of rich leather-bound books and freshly stained mahogony. Guess what, you still have no point.

      • Timothy Tingley

        You most definitely did try to correlate intelligence and income level. You are an idiot. Everyone can read the post. You definitely have delusions of grandeur. I see you like my armchair diagnosis. Tell me to quit while i’m ahead. I’ll always be ahead of a jerk like you. No matter when I start or stop.

  • Cowboy

    If theses sex offender are married, I hope their wives get a lawyer and take them for everything they can.
    Making sure they are put on the sex offender registry.
    This wasn’t like taking a pee on the side of the road on an interstate.

  • 🤔

    I honestly don’t believe that all of those women would make it up. They just think because these man worked in there and would not do that. I believe they would. Did those women make mistakes in their lives? Yes, they did but it still doesn’t give anyone any right to sexually abused them and assault them. Those guards and such know what they did. And shame on them for doing it.

  • Roo

    The irony of the statement, “trumped” up charges….hey it is ok for the limp dick cheeto to do it….
    I hope they send these troglodytes to prison, then they can experience what they put women through.

  • mopar driver

    What Buffoons hire male guards for female prisoners ? What did you expect to happen? And as not surprised points out the mentality of these buffoons being put in control of a persons life and able to harm them or provide food to starving inmates ( or drugs) can force them to comply over time .

    • Antifap

      Women are hired as guards in men’s prisons, as well. Doesn’t take much to hold a pack of cigarettes, new undergarments, or new socks over someone’s head and make them jump for it.

      Abuse of power. Happens all of the time, ESPECIALLY within the prison systems.

  • Timothy Tingley

    The only way prison guards have sex is with inmates, or eachother. Who would want a job where you spend your work life in jail. Real high- achievers.Lackawanna county is a cesspool. It is boiling off into a “scumbag reduction” at this point. With the landfill, the school corruption, and the lead in the water Scranton might be the worst place to live in America.

    • Mudbumper

      When I did an internship at a state prison I trusted most of the inmates more than the COs. Bunch of low IQ, dishonest, manipulative, low brow, poor hygiene, and fat (lots of fatties) guys/gals in cheap uniforms. Not to say the prisoners weren’t a bunch of stool chuckers. Anyway, yeah, lots of druggies I knew from high school are prison guards now. Sad.

    • Timothy Tingley

      I see your point, but I don’t even think drugs are the problem. People like these guards give drugs a bad name.

    • Antifap

      Drugs is just another contraband item. There’s cell phones, food, clothing, art supplies, reading materials, name it.

      What it’s based upon is mental and behavioral health issues. MOST of these employees can’t make it onto a police force (fail the psych evals), and they are incapable of working in the private sector because of their personality disorders, so they opt for the DOC.

      And, those who go into the DOC as employees who are NOT disordered emerge from that horrid environment as changed, jaded, and cynical people.

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