The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 9, 2014

Northumberland County commissioner demands resignation of jail warden and commander

SUNBURY — Northumberland County Commissioner Steve Bridy has called for the immediate resignations of Northumberland County Prison Warden Roy Johnson and Commander Brian Wheary for allegedly misleading their superiors.

Bridy on Tuesday called Wheary and Johnson and asked whether a reporter was on a visitors’ list to enter the jail and interview murder suspect Miranda Barbour, 19, of Selinsgrove.

Sunbury police accuse Barbour and her husband, Elytte, of fatally stabbing Troy LaFerrara, 42, of Port Trevorton, on Nov. 11, the day of their three-week wedding anniversary.

Barbour sent a Jan. 3 letter to The Daily Item requesting a visit. When the reporter arrived at the jail Tuesday, Wheary said the interview would not occur because the reporter’s name was not on the visitation list.

Bridy told the newspaper the reporter’s name wasn’t on the list and that he believed the word of Wheary. Bridy also spoke to Johnson and said Johnson confirmed the reporter’s name was not on the list.

Bridy pushed the issue on Thursday and said that after reviewing a copy of Barbour’s visitor list, the reporter’s name was listed third and was removed by the inmate only at 11:40 a.m. Thursday.

“I asked (Wheary) and he lied to my face,” Bridy said.

“I defended the prison and the supervisors for more than two years and they have undermined my confidence in their ability to lead the prison and I’m asking for them to both resign immediately,” Bridy said.

Bridy, who was upset during his call Thursday to the media, apologized for his statements on Wednesday and said he specifically asked Johnson whether there was written policy for media access to the jail and Johnson replied, “Yes.”

“I also called Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini and he told me he hadn’t seen the list, but Wheary and Johnson said the newspaper reporter was not listed on it,” Bridy said. “Those guys also lied to our district attorney.

“These two individuals are paid with tax dollar money and they cannot be misleading to their bosses or to the public. They need to resign and I am asking for an immediate investigation into the prison by an outside agency. We need to clean this up and clean this up fast.”

Commissioner Vinny Clausi agreed.

“I have been saying this for months about the prison but no one wanted to listen,” Clausi said.

“When Bridy called me and told me all I could tell him was that I have been telling him about that place for a long, long time. Wheary and Johnson must go. How can they lie to their bosses?”

Bridy and Clausi said they have no idea about why the reporter wanted access or why the interview was to be arranged and that it doesn’t matter.

“I don’t care about any of that,” Clausi said.

“What I do care about it is our leadership at the prison is a mess and things were not handled properly. We can’t have this. This is an embarrassment and we will fix it immediately.”

Wheary and Johnson are nonunion employees, Clausi said. Johnson earns more than $60,000 while Wheary earns about $37,000.

Johnson was gone for the day Thursday when called for comment and Wheary did not return a phone call to The Daily Item.

 

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