Longtime Employee Leaves Dept. of Corrections Following Target 8 Investigation

3 years 10 months 1 week ago March 14, 2013 Mar 14, 2013 Thursday, March 14 2013 Thursday, March 14, 2013 2:53:00 PM CDT in News
By: Dan Kennedy

VANDALIA - A longtime employee with the Missouri Department of Corrections is out of a job following a Target 8 Investigation. That exclusive February investigation detailed allegations of abuse at the women's prison in Vandalia.

In the February investigation KOMU 8 News obtained a copy of a memo from Corrections Officer Jo Ann Myers to the prison's warden and DOC disciplinary board. Myers said she watched Sergeant Michele Nicholson, a Vandalia prison employee, pick a fight and escalate a situation with an offender in June. Offender abuse is a Class C felony. KOMU 8 has learned of no formal charges against Nicholson.

The investigation aired on February 20 on KOMU 8 News. According to the DOC, Nicholson left her post at the prison March 1 after being an employee with the DOC for almost 20 years. A DOC spokesperson wouldn't clarify if she was fired or left on her own will, instead choosing to release this statement: "Michele Nicholson was an employee with the Missouri Department of Corrections from 1/10/94-3/1/13."

The Target 8 Investigation mentioned other corrections officers allegedly involved in the June incident. That same memo said Lieutenant Justin Swank, another employee at the Vandalia prison, reviewed video footage and determined there was "no use of force." The memo says Swank ordered Sergeant Danel Hawkins, also a Vandalia prison employee, to erase any evidence from the video camera. Tampering with physical evidence is a Class D felony. KOMU 8 has learned of no formal charges against Hawkins, Swank or Myers. The DOC confirmed all three employees still work at the DOC. 

KOMU 8 News has also learned one public information officer at the DOC was transfered to the state Department of Insurance since the story aired. A different DOC spokesperson would not elaborate.

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