Sentence for inmate in prison riot reduced in return for aiding authorities

Published 12:08am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NATCHEZ — The first inmate charged in the May 20 prison riot that left one man dead will serve 40 months in prison and pay $1.3 million in restitution.

Federal Judge David Bramlette handed down the sentence to Juan Lopez-Fuentes Monday.

Bramlette granted a written motion from the U.S. government requesting the sentence be reduced because of the “substantial assistance” Lopez-Fuentes has given the FBI in the case.

Bramlette said Lopez-Fuentes has helped the FBI identify more than 30 inmates who participated in the riot at the Adams County Correctional Facility.

Speaking through a translator, Lopez-Fuentes apologized for his role in the riot. He said he would like to continue helping the FBI in their investigation of other inmates involved in the riot who assaulted prison guards.

Before the sentencing Lopez-Fuentes’ lawyer, Matt Tyrone, asked the court to be considerate of his client’s cooperation with the government, as well as his admission of participating in the riot before he was criminally charged.

Tyrone also said Lopez-Fuentes had no previous violent crime charges and was not involved in assaulting prison guards during the riot.

Lopez-Fuentes’ prison time will be followed by three years of supervised release. At that point, he will be turned over to immigration officers. Lopez-Fuentes must not reenter the country without written permission from the director of homeland security.

The restitution is the amount of estimated damage that occurred at the facility during the riot and will be paid in conjunction with any other inmates convicted in the riot case. The payment schedule set by Bramlette requires Lopez-Fuentes make a $20 minimum payment monthly after he is released from prison.

Lopez-Fuentes pleaded guilty in late August to taking part in the riot. At least two other inmates, Yoany Oriel Serrano-Bejarano and Pedro De Los Reyes, have been charged in connection with the incident.

According to earlier court filings, the riot started during a mass movement when the alleged leadership of a group of Mexican nationals known as Paisas — it means “countrymen” — told the members of the group to disobey orders from prison officials until a list of demands could be presented to the prison’s administration. The filing states the inmates were disgruntled about the food, medical service and “disrespectful staff members” at the prison.

When prison officials tried to contain the disobedience, it erupted into a full-scale riot that lasted from approximately 2 to 9 p.m. May 20, eventually contained by the prison’s special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s SWAT team.

During the riot, inmates destroyed prison facilities, raided food and commissary services, took correctional officers hostage and used ladders and stacked food service carts to climb onto the roof of prison buildings and assault guards there, including Catlin Carithers, 24, who later died from injuries he received in the assault.

The court filings indicated Lopez-Fuentes had been identified as one of the inmates who was present in an area where correctional officers were being held hostage.

“Lopez-Fuentes would quiet the crowd of rioting inmates and then give (correctional officers) orders to relay to (authorities),” the filing states, orders that included for responders to drop their weapons or hostages would be harmed.

The filing also states that Lopez-Fuentes acknowledged to being part of the riot, and stole items from the commissary, broke windows in a housing unit and was in possession of a staff member’s radio.

Serrano-Bejarano has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Reyes has not yet been arraigned.

A federal immigration prison, Adams County Correctional Center houses approximately 2,500 inmates and is operated by Corrections Corporation of America.


  • Polly Bourke Farrar

    Not nearly enough time for what they did

  • Anonymous

    Supervised release??????? Once you turn this scumbag loose he will hit the streets running. I bet you a dollar to a doughnut that he will commit a crime within 2 days of being released. I vote you just shoot this useless piece of trash and keep someone else from being victimized.

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully that’s a typo on the months and should be years. They should know that he isn’t going to pay that amount of money.

  • Anonymous

    Just thinking, $20.00 a month X 12 months a year = $240 into $1,300,000.00 comes out to about 5,416.6666666 years. I suggest we shoot him and save everybody the trouble this will cause. YOU AIN’T EVER GONNA COLLECT THE MONEY FROM HIM!!!!!

  • vilou09

    I really hope it is, too. You get more time than that for most nonviolent crimes!

  • Teresa B.Wicker


  • Anonymous

    He was just inciting a riot with a little property damage, apparently not tried nor convicted on the murder/manslaughter charge – WOW. At most, he could have received a maximum of 10 years per the article, and only got 40 months when a guard died as a result of this riot. If guilty, he and the others deserve the maximum on whatever charges they were tried for, and if the perp who actually was responsible for Carithers’ death is identified, he should be subject to the instant death penalty – courtesy of a bullet administered with malice. I guess the judge felt he should be released ASAP so he could start making a dent in his restitution at the whopping $20 a month! How stupid does the justice system think the public really is? You can bet the insiders at all other penal institutions are well aware of this outcome, more to follow!

  • Anonymous

    10 Yrs. max per the article.

  • Anonymous

    I am assuming that he got the 40 months because it was up to the prison facility, i.e., CCA to keep everyone in that facility safe. They did not. Blame the for-profit prison.

  • Guest

    Wow,He will have that 1.3 million paid off in ONLY 5,416 years @ $20/month!! lol But they can’t make regular working folks pay back $20,000 in back child support, so why not give a “wishful thinking” sentence to him!

  • Anonymous

    Sickening..the judge should have to serve with him..This country will fall in the next few years,it,s headed that way fast,ask the truck drivers don,t ask or believe in goverment ,senators,congressmens,they are all crooks,multi millionaires,they have no idea what,s its like struggling and don,t give a rats behind.The truck drivers that drive all over this nation said the economy is sinking lower by the day,all this auto mouth bull about everything improving and the unemployment rate is baloney, the actual rate is nearer 15% and climbing instead of 8%,nobody believes that bull.They don,t count the workers that ran out of money and are no longer looking for jobs…Socailism here it comes…give it away,,,and go bust.

  • Anonymous

    Whoever wrote the part about restitution is a moron and a idiot.