Nassau jail’s health provider

Margie Gleeson,
holding a photo of her
Now facing NY attorney general probe,
Armor Correctional also named in
recent federal and state suits over
son John, who died in
2014 at the Nassau
jail, speaks about his treatment of inmates
treatment at her
Oceanside home. BY DARRAN SIMON ing Armor as a defendant, state
darran.simon@newsday.com Commission of Correction re-
ports obtained through multiple
The private company entrust- public information requests,
ed with providing health care to other documents and interviews
the Nassau County jail — and re- with attorneys found:
cently cited for giving inade- ] The state commission said
quate care to inmates who died two inmates — Tommie Lee
in custody — has a trail of law- Jones, 51, and Daniel Pantera, 46,
suits in multiple states alleging who died in custody at the Niaga-
that it delivered substandard ra County Jail, received “grossly
care. inadequate” care. The agency
The suits — alleging inmates said Pantera’s death was “pre-
suffered and sometimes died be- ventable” if he had received ade-
cause Armor Correctional quate treatment.
Health Services’ staff was negli- ] In Florida, Pinellas County
gent and underqualified, de- Sheriff Bob Gualtieri ended the
prived inmates of medical care county’s contract with Armor a
and denied emergency care — little more than seven months
come as a New York State com- into the two-year agreement.
mission in September said the Among the issues, Gualtieri said
Miami-based firm gave “incom- Armor was not treating patients
petent and deficient” care to a in a timely manner, the Tampa
Nassau jail inmate who died in Bay Times reported.
custody last year. ] Also in Florida, the Hillsbor-
Since May, Newsday has re- ough County Sheriff’s Office de-
ported that critics, including at- cided to no longer use Armor’s
torneys, the New York Civil Lib- services, ending a nine-year rela-
erties Union, and an acting state tionship. The decision came
Supreme Court justice who low- about a year after a $1 million
ered an inmate’s bail after her payout to the family of a Tampa

lawyer said she hadn’t gotten man who suffered a stroke in a
her diabetes medication, have jail where Armor provided
raised concerns about Armor. health care and later died.
Last month, advocates and one ] At a women’s prison in Virgin-
of Nassau’s top Democrats inten- ia, the state will pay for an inde-
sified calls to suspend Armor’s pendent monitor after inmates

contract after the state findings sued, alleging they had to stand
about the death of inmate John in a “pill line” about 3 a.m. in the
Gleeson at the Nassau jail. rain and snow to receive medi-
In addition, the New York cine at a facility where Armor
State attorney general’s office was responsible for medical
has launched an investigation of care.
Armor’s quality of care, includ- Armor is among six to 10 large
ing how the company deals with private correctional health care
medical emergencies at the Nas- providers, said Dr. Marc Stern, a

sau jail, sources told Newsday Washington state-based inter-
last week. nist who does research on cor-
A review of complaints filed rectional health care and exam-
in federal and state courts nam- ines care in various facilities.


Experts say there are good cult to breathe, the report said.
and poor examples of privatized The report recommended
correctional health care. More that state health officials investi-
government agencies appear to gate Armor’s medical director
be choosing the privatization op- for “failing to examine and re-
tion, said Brenda E. Castaneda, a spond to a patient who demon-
Virginia attorney who sued strated a need for immediate
Armor and others, alleging sub- medical care” and for giving
standard care. Jones improperly prescribed
The quality of care is deter- medicine.
mined more by the local health Armor declined to comment
care administrators managing on the report.
the private contract than the Founded in 2004, the compa-
company itself and whether ny said it provides medical care
there is robust oversight by jail to more than 40,000 inmates in
administrators, experts say. But eight states. Last October, it
regardless of who is providing
health care, more emphasis
Raleigh Priester Tommie Lee Jones Allen Hicks signed a five-year, $21.8 million
contract with Osceola County,
needs to be put on improving died on July 10, 2012, while in died on Dec. 29, 2012, while in suffered paralysis in August Florida, to provide care to
correctional care, they say. custody at the Broward custody in the Niagara County 2012 and went untreated in a roughly 824 inmates in the
Stern, a former Washington County Jail in Florida. Jail in upstate New York. jail in Florida, his family said. county jail — a deal that saves
State Department of Corrections the county about $677,000, a
assistant secretary of health county spokesman said.
care, said: “The root problem is Records show Nassau County Fort Lauderdale police arrest- ful-death suit Jones’ daughter Medical services are not the
we don’t put enough money and has paid Armor nearly $43 mil- ed Priester on Feb. 6, 2012, after filed. county’s expertise, and the
attention into correctional lion since mid-2011. he threw a rock at a city employ- “I think . . . [the settlement] county is indemnified if a law-
health care. . . . It’s just not im- Last year, Fort Lauderdale at- ee who asked him to leave a sends a message to the counties suit is filed involving Armor’s
portant to the public, unfortu- torney Greg Lauer sued Armor, parking garage, according to the and to the jails, that proper care services, the spokesman said.
nately.” Broward County Sheriff Scott Is- suit filed in federal court. has to be rendered to the peo- Suarez said Armor has grown
rael and others, alleging negli- The suit alleged that Armor’s ple that they are incarcerating,” because their clients see “a sin-
Reluctant to represent gence in the death of Raleigh staff had learned about Priester’s said Jones’ attorney, Gregory cere effort and the results from
Joanne Doroshow, founder Priester, 52, a U.S. Army veteran medical history — including a Krull of Buffalo. our team to enhance patient
and executive director of the with a history of schizophrenia, stint in a mental hospital — and Jones was jailed on a parole vi- care in a cost-effective man-
Center for Justice & Democracy who died July 10, 2012, after 155 placed him in solitary confine- olation Nov. 29, 2012. He had a ner.”
in New York, said lawyers are days in the Broward County Jail. ment. He was seen standing history of heart disease, emphy- In 2013, Armor paid $800,000
generally unwilling to take on Armor declined to comment naked, “yelling, incoherently, ac- sema and gout, and told jail offi- to settle with the family of
medical malpractice lawsuits in- on specific lawsuits or patient- tively hallucinating, banging his cials of his medical record. Allen Hicks, 51, who died in Au-
volving inmates because the specific matters. head on the floor causing himself Days before his death, Ar- gust 2012 while in custody in
damages are typically low and ju- “Armor supports its caregiv- to bleed,” the suit said. mor’s medical director gave Hillsborough County, Florida,

ries are usually unsympathetic. ers who work relentlessly every him medication that “should be court records show. Armor was
In instances where attorneys day on behalf of our patients to ‘Slow horrible death’ used cautiously with patients not named in the suit against
take on such cases, “the harm is fulfill our mission of providing Priester was denied adequate with cardiovascular disease” Hillsborough and other defen-
so egregious, it can rise to the quality care,” spokeswoman Ye- amounts of food and water and and didn’t follow up, the suit dants.
level of a constitutional viola- leny Suarez said in an email. She was not given medication or said. The Hillsborough County
tion,” she said. said the company has “seen a re- medical treatment while in soli- Jones also submitted sick sheriff’s office paid $200,000,

Armor’s contract has been re- cent trend among certain attor- tary, nor was he moved to a facil- calls complaining that his leg records show.
newed twice since Nassau legis- neys attempting to manipulate ity for treatment, the suit said. was swollen and full of fluid, A Florida Highway patrol
lators first agreed to a two-year the media.” Priester died a “slow horrible and gout had started to set in. trooper had pulled Hicks over
contract for $11 million a year as The company has said that no death,” the suit said. He was The day before he died, he in May 2012 for driving errati-
a cost-cutting measure. jury has ever found it guilty of found dead in a cell, weighing told a nurse he felt like he was cally after the Tampa high
That deal privatized work that medical malpractice. only 120 pounds — about half going to “have a heart attack,” school baseball coach was seen
the Nassau University Medical Armor, though, has recently what he weighed when he was the report said. hitting the guardrail.
Center previously handled for settled at least two lawsuits in- admitted to the jail. Jones died Dec. 29, 2012 — Paramedics instructed the
about $18 million in 2010. Nassau volving inmate deaths that never Lauer declined to comment two weeks after Armor took highway patrol trooper to take
County Executive Edward Man- made it before a jury. on the suit. over medical care — of acute Hicks to the hospital after he re-
gano has publicly said that the In August, Priester’s family In New York’s Niagara Coun- untreated pulmonary edema, a fused commands to get out of
Armor contract has saved $7 mil- settled its suit. The terms are ty, Armor agreed to a $100,000 condition caused by excess
lion annually. confidential. payout in July to settle a wrong- fluid in the lungs, making it diffi- See JAILS on A14

Health care provider to
sue the county, the jail and port — this one in 2014 — said
Armor. Pantera’s death on Dec. 25, 2012,
Other Nassau inmates said of hypothermia — complicated
Gleeson’s throat had swollen tre- by ailments including cardiovas-

inmates facing lawsuits mendously hours before his
death, and one inmate said he
complained of serious breathing
trouble, Newsday reported in
cular disease — while in custody
in upstate New York was “pre-
ventable,” if he, too, had gotten
adequate treatment at the Niaga-
JAILS from A13
A12 August. ra County Jail in upstate Lock-
A spokesman for Mangano port.
his vehicle, but authorities took said in October the state commis- Pantera, who suffered from
Hicks to the Hillsborough Coun- sion report “raises concerning al- mental issues, was charged with
ty Jail, said his attorney, Paul legations” and he said the matter stealing a cup of coffee from a
Rebein of Tampa. has been sent to the county “for 7-Eleven.
The left side of his body review.” At one point, Pantera, who
wasn’t functioning and his leg Armor has said that the majori- was naked, ran into his cell,
dragged as he was placed in a ty of allegations levied against knocking himself unconscious;
cell where he lay face down on a the company “have been un- he said “he was trying to get
mattress as Armor’s nurses founded.” out,” the report said.
“stood by and watched,” Rebein “This death was the result of
said. Fault found elsewhere grossly inadequate medical and
Thirty-six hours passed be- The state Commission of Cor- mental health care,” the report
fore he slipped into a coma. He rection also has issued multiple said.
died about a month later. criticisms after two other inmate Pantera’s ex-wife has sued
“He’s seen struggling to try to deaths in Nassau’s jail since the Armor and its medical director,
get up, clearly not using one side company got the county con- court records show.
of his body and nobody’s doing tract in mid-2011. Buffalo attorney James Van-
anything to help,” Rebein said. In 2012, Armor’s care was dette, who is handling the suit,
Rebein said Hicks’ treatment called “grossly incompetent” by could not be reached.
amounts to “devaluing the life of the commission after a Shirley Castaneda, the attorney repre-
someone who is a detainee.” man, Roy Nordstrom, 47, died senting inmates at Fluvanna Cor-
In 2014, the Hillsborough of a heart attack in jail in 2011 rectional Center for Women in
County sheriff’s office ended its after repeated chest pain com- Virginia, said the “movement to-
relationship with Armor after its plaints. ward privatizing prison sys-
contract expired and awarded a The state ordered the county tems” is problematic.
new contract to Alabama-based executive’s office to do an inqui- “You’re handing over a basic
NaphCare. ry into Armor’s fitness as the constitutional right to a for-prof-
Hillsborough sheriff’s Col. jail’s medical care provider after it company,” said Castaneda, of
Ken Davis, commander of the de- finding the company negligent the Legal Aid Justice Center in
tention services, didn’t specify in Nordstrom’s death. Charlottesville, Virginia. “Bud-
why the county rejected Ar- In 2013, Armor gave “inade- gets are tight and state agencies
mor’s bid for a new contract. quate evaluation and treatment” are looking for ways to cut their
“If we had been thoroughly to Bartholomew Ryan, 32, who budgets — and this is an easy
pleased with the delivery of ser- served as a U.S. Marine in Iraq one.”
vice . . . we could have renewed before committing suicide in the Fluvanna “virtually never hon-
the contract,” Davis said. jail in 2012, the commission said. ors” prisoners’ request for emer-
He added: “Obviously, there Armor contends it isn’t re- gency medical care, alleges the

were good days and bad days.” sponsible for Ryan’s death and lawsuit, which sought injunctive
Davis said Armor’s “effort that there was no indication the
wasn’t lacking. We just went company disregarded Ryan’s
with a different direction — a dif- health and safety. Armor Correctional
ferent model, a more of a front- And the commission is also in- Health Services Inc.
loaded care model as opposed to Catherine Marinaccio said her son Antonio wasn’t cared for vestigating the 2015 jail custody
a reactionary care model.” properly at the Nassau jail. He died after falling ill there in April. death of Antonio Marinaccio Jr.,
Also in 2014, Gualtieri, of Pinel- 53, of Levittown, whose family Founded: 2004
las, and Armor agreed that a In Oklahoma, Oklahoma Coun- son’s death in 2014 may have filed a notice of claim in July Corporate Headquarters:
30-day notice was enough to can- ty Sheriff John Whetsel praised been prevented if not for his “in- against Nassau, the jail, and cor- 4900 S.W. 72nd Ave., Suite

cel the contract the two entered Armor, which provides health competent and deficient” medi- rection and police officials. 400, Miami, Florida
into in September 2013, accord- care for between 2,200 and 2,800 cal treatment at the jail, which Among their claims is that President: Dr. Jose Armas
ing to a copy of the letter to inmates at the county jail in Okla- houses about 1,200 inmates. Marinaccio was the victim of
Armor CEO Bruce Teal. homa City. The commission questioned wrongful death and medical neg- Annual Sales:

Praise from Oklahoma
“We are very satisfied with
Armor. They provide excellent
Armor’s ability to meet the
needs of inmates where it holds
ligence. The family contends the
inmate became brain-dead after

The correspondence didn’t care for our inmates and we’ve contracts in New York, saying not getting proper medical care Net Worth:
specify why the contract was
canceled. Suarez said it was a
been more than satisfied with
the quality of care they’ve pro-
Armor engaged “in a pattern of
inadequate and negligent medi-
and suffering a heart attack
while in jail custody. The family $7,194,790*
“mutual agreement to terminate vided over the last five years,” cal care.” has said jail officials told them he Armor provides medical care
due to the unique staffing nature he said through a spokesman. Gleeson, 40, an electrician was found in his cell at 3 a.m. on to more than 40,000 in-
of the agreement.” In Nassau County, Armor crit- and father of two, suffered from April 26 in cardiac arrest, but mates in eight states, includ-
Gualtieri declined to com- ics such as Legislative Minority angioedema, a condition that in- that a hospital official said he ing New York, South Dakota,
ment. Leader Kevan Abrahams (D- cludes bouts of swelling that can wasn’t brought to the hospital Virginia, Wisconsin and
He told the Orlando Sentinel Freeport) have called for the sus- escalate into breathing emergen- until 4:18 a.m. Marinaccio died Georgia, according to the
at the time: “Based on this experi- pension of Armor’s contract cies. May 2 after the family gave per- company.
ence, we’re going back to doing after the state report on Glee- He had pleaded not guilty to mission for him to be taken off Sources: Armor Correctional
Health Services’ website
it in-house, and we’re not going son’s death. burglary on the day he died. life support. *Dun & Bradstreet, Inc.
down that path again.” The state report said Glee- Gleeson’s family intends to Another state commission re-

relief and also named Virginia
corrections and Fluvanna offi-
cials as defendants.
According to a recently final-
ized settlement, Fluvanna’s new
compliance monitor, a former

medical director of the Pennsyl-
vania Department of Correc-
tions, chosen by medical experts
representing both sides, will
make periodic trips to Fluvanna
to review and evaluate medical
Armor’s critics, like Tulsa at-
torney Bob Blakemore, said
Armor and other private compa- BY JULIE PACE
nies are reluctant to send in- The Associated Press
mates to outside emergency
care because of the cost. WASHINGTON — For
“There is a financial disincen- years, President Barack
tive for these staffing agencies to Obama and newly elected
send inmates for outside treat- House Speaker Paul Ryan
ment, even in cases where have been political foes and oc-
they’re inmates that have com- casional policy allies. Obama
plex conditions,” said has long admired Ryan’s seri-
Blakemore, an attorney with ousness on fiscal issues, but
Smolen, Smolen & Roytman. pilloried the Wisconsin law-
The firm’s client, Scott Birdwell, maker and GOP vice presiden-
was one of several plaintiffs who tial nominee during the 2012
sued Armor and Tulsa County campaign as the architect of
Sheriff Stanley Glanz alleging in- “radical” budget ideas.

adequate care at the Tulsa Coun- Ryan helped champion
ty Jail, among other things. Obama’s trade agenda this
year, but also has been among
Complaints ignored the sharpest critics of the presi-
Birdwell suffered a serious cut dent’s health care law.
after another inmate struck him Now, with Ryan atop the
over the left eye with an un- fractious House Republican
known object in June 2014, the caucus, the two men face an un-
suit said. certain 14-month stretch be-
Armor staff ignored Bird- fore the end of Obama’s presi- President Barack Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan, center, in 2010. The two have allied on
well’s complaints of pain and dency. Ryan is eager to unify such issues as Obama’s trade agenda, but also tussled on topics such as his health care law.
his request to be hospitalized. his party, but even if he can,
The staff waited beyond their there’s no guarantee the House fathers to school-age children never again seen on the links. During a televised health
suggested 10-day waiting peri- would progress on Obama’s (two for Obama and three for White House aides hope care summit in 2010, Ryan de-
od to remove stitches, causing priorities, including infrastruc- Ryan), and are avid sports fans Ryan can figure out what Boeh- rided the president’s health
injury. ture spending and tax reform. (though Obama’s Chicago ner never seemed able to do: care legislation as rife with
The case is pending. “While it is certainly our Bears and Ryan’s Green Bay bring the small, but vocal, con- “gimmicks and smoke and mir-
Davis, of the Hillsborough hope that we can work togeth- Packers are archrivals). But servative wing of the House rors” techniques to shade the
County sheriff’s office, acknowl- er on areas of agreement, right aides to both men say they’ve caucus along on major issues real cost.
edges that inmates are a chal- now it’s an unknown,” White never spent much one-on-one — or moving on without them Republicans praised his de-
lenging population to care for. House communications direc- time together. if they hold firm. tail-rich, six-minute commen-
“They’re often sick. They tor Jennifer Psaki said. “That Obama and Ryan have spo- White House aides point to tary as among the most effec-
have about as many health prob- has less to do with the individ- ken by phone occasionally, in- Ryan’s work on a 2013 budget tive arguments against the
lems as any group of people you ual and everything to do with cluding during a key trade vote deal with Democratic Sen. “Obamacare” bill.
would find out there,” Davis the politics in the Republican in Congress this year. The pres- Patty Murray as a sign of his In 2011, Obama castigated
said. “It takes a lot of work to caucus.” ident called Ryan on Wednes- willingness to reach across the Ryan’s budget proposals dur-

stay in front of their problems." Still, there’s no doubt that day to wish him well in his aisle, even when it’s unpopular ing a fiscal policy speech —
Broward County Public De- Ryan was the White House’s new post, but the White House with a swath of House Republi- with the Wisconsin lawmaker
fender Howard Finkelstein, favored choice for speaker said they did not make plans to cans. They’ve also welcomed sitting in the front row. With-
whose office represents many after John Boehner resigned get together for a more exten- his vocal support for the presi- out mentioning Ryan by name,
inmates that Armor treats in the and No. 2 Republican Kevin sive conversation. dent’s pursuit of the Trans Pa- Obama said the budget blue-
Broward Jail, said he’s not sure McCarthy withdrew from the The president has long bris- cific Partnership trade pact. print he authored painted “a vi-

Armor is “any better or any race to succeed him. Aides say tled at the notion he would When Ryan was asked this sion of our future that is deep-
worse” than other private medi- the president views Ryan as a have had more success dealing year about aligning himself ly pessimistic.” The president
cal providers. policy wonk driven more by with Republicans had he spent with a top presidential priori- again used Ryan’s budget as a
“If anybody you care about is legislative results than appeas- more time cultivating personal ty, he told CNN, “It doesn’t political target in the 2012 elec-
in jail and is sick, and the health ing GOP hard-liners. relationships. He and Boehner bother me that the person I tion.
care treatment is provided by As Ryan addressed Con- were cordial, but hardly close, ran against in 2012 is the per- At the White House, Obama
Armor or any of these other gress Thursday, he said: “Let’s during the Ohio lawmaker’s son I’m working with on this spokesman Josh Earnest also
groups, you best get your loved be frank: The House is broken. nearly five years as speaker. because it’s the right thing for reminded Ryan that with Dem-
ones out of jail,” he said. We are not solving problems. They made an attempt at the country.” ocrats still in the White
He added: “Because there is a We are adding to them.” forging deeper ties — and a Despite areas of common in- House, most successful legisla-
chance that they will get sicker Obama and Ryan enter this grand budget bargain — with a terest, the most notable ex- tion has to be bipartisan.
or even die under that care.” new relationship with few per- well-publicized golf outing in changes between Obama and The president, Earnest said,
With Bridget Murphy sonal ties. They’re close in age 2011, but the budget talks fell Ryan have come when they’ve hopes Ryan leads the House
(Obama is 54, Ryan is 45), are apart and the two men were been at odds. “with that fact in mind.”