Inmate sentenced to 5 years for role in prison riot

Published 12:04 am Friday, September 6, 2013

NATCHEZ — One man was sentenced to five years in prison and another pleaded guilty Thursday for his part in the 2012 prison riot that injured dozens and left one correctional officer dead.

Judge David Bramlette sentenced Pedro Gonzales De Los Reyes to 60 months in prison and $1.3 million in restitution in U.S. District Court — Southern District of Mississippi in Natchez for his participation in the seven-hour prisoner uprising at the Adams County Correctional Center on May 20, 2012.

The judge said the restitution is to be paid in conjunction with all other inmates who have been or will be sentenced in the matter. The restitution is equal to the estimated amount of damage caused by the riot.

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ACCC is a privately owned prison, operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

Reyes pleaded guilty in June to being a part of the riot — which involved hundreds of inmates and resulted in the death of correctional officer Catlin Carithers.

While Bramlette said he took into consideration the fact that U.S. prosecutors said Reyes had cooperated and been able to give evidence that helped the overall investigation, he denied the defense’s request to sentence him to no more than 40 months on the grounds that he was a minor participant in the event and had not conspired to riot and had not taken any hostages.

Bramlette said sentencing enhancements that consider any participant in the riot culpable in the assault and tying up of correctional officers still applied to Reyes’ case.

“Compared to others in this riot situation, he was a minor participant,” Bramlette said. “Due to his activities and his knowledge of what could happen, the enhancements are appropriate.”

The injuries that were caused to those affected by the riot were “reasonably foreseeable,’” the judge said.

Speaking through his attorney, Robert McDuff, Reyes apologized to the court and everyone affected for his part in the riot.

“He regrets it, and he is sorry,” McDuff said.

Bramlette said Reyes was formerly convicted of a money laundering scheme involving $285,000 worth of cocaine.

Federal sentencing guidelines suggested Reyes could have received a sentence ranging from 57-71 months. Bramlette did not issue a fine with the sentence because Reyes is indigent, and the judge said Reyes faces deportation at the expiration of his sentence.

Another inmate, Ernesto Lizama-Reynaga, pleaded guilty Thursday to participating in the riot.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Lemon said had the case gone to trial, the government would have been able to produce three witnesses who said they saw Lizama-Reynaga attacking a prison command center with a pole and a piece of concrete.

Lemon said the witnesses would have also testified they saw Lizama-Reynaga strike windows with a metal pan from the prison kitchen and witnessed him with items from the prison commissary and throwing items from the kitchen at the window.

Lizama-Reynaga will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 19.