Two months after settling a brutality lawsuit against a private Idaho prison thats to pay him an undisclosed amount of money, Jacob James Clevenger has been sentenced for selling meth.
Clevenger, 31, of Weiser will be on probation for five years once he completes the 188-month sentence, which U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill imposed Monday at the federal courthouse in Boise.
Clevenger was in prison on and off on from 2001 until June 2011 for assault on officials, aggravated battery, eluding police, injury to a child and aggravated assault in Washington and Canyon counties.
He was serving time for aggravated assault and eluding police convictions in Canyon County when he said rival gang members beat him on Aug. 10, 2010, after guards transported him to a new cell. Clevenger filed the lawsuit against the private prison company in March.
Less than six months after he left state prison, he was conspiring to distribute methamphetamine with at least 12 others in Canyon, Payette and Washington counties, according to a federal grand jury indictment filed in June 2012, a month after authorities busted the ring.
Clevenger admitted in October to conspiring to distribute 11 pounds of methamphetamine. He was out of jail awaiting sentencing when his lawyer reached an out-of-court settlement with the Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the prison near Kuna.
The lawsuit claimed Clevenger lost consciousness and suffered a broken tooth and fractured eye socket during the beating. Its among several filed against the private prison company that allege correctional officers pit inmates against each other, earning the prison a reputation as Gladiator School.
Mr. Clevenger does not know for certain why his assailants assaulted him. But one thing is clear: The guards who allowed this brutal attack exhibited deliberate indifference to Mr. Clevengers health and welfare, according to the lawsuit.
Lawyers for the Corrections Corp. of America denied the allegations in court documents, but the case wasnt tried. Instead, CCA settled with Clevenger, and U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge dismissed the lawsuit Dec. 4. Clevengers lawyer, Craig Vernon of Coeur dAlene, said he couldnt comment on the terms of the settlement.
Nobody will retire on the amount of money he gets, lets put it that way, Vernon said.
Vernon said he couldn't say what Clevenger will do with the money, but he does have family in the area, and federal prison allows inmates to purchase snacks, hygiene products and other items through a commissary system funded by inmates and their families.
Vernon knew about Clevengers pending federal case but was surprised at the sentence.
Obviously he broke the law, but that's a lot of time for meth, Vernon said. Maybe we should try some treatment before we spend all our tax dollars on incarcerating them.
Clevenger was among three sentenced Monday by Winmill. Mario Martinez, Jr., 55, of Greenleaf was ordered to serve four years and nine months. Fabian Jordano Beltran, 23, of Weiser received three years. The men had pleaded guilty last fall in agreements that remain sealed in U.S. District Court.
Winmill approved requests by the government to sentence Martinez and Beltran to less than the mandatory minimum 10 years in prison. Minutes of Beltran's sentencing are sealed in U.S. District Court, which is rare.
Martinez and Beltran were among several defendants who testified in a six-day trial in Boise last month.
Michael Dennis Morris, 42, of Ontario, Jesus Guadalupe Sanchez, alias Jose Salazar, 31, a Mexican national, and Jim Allen Loveland, 56, of Boise were convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. They are to be sentenced April 8. Seven co-defendants pleaded guilty last year to related drug-trafficking charges and are awaiting sentencing scheduled for this month and in March.
Winmill recommended Clevenger be housed at the federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., and that he undergo drug treatment there. His sentence also calls for him to forfeit a silver Beretta Model 950 BS .25-caliber pistol, seized by federal authorities after his arrest. The gun had an obliterated serial number.
Meghann M. Cuniff: 377-6418