Case Update: Fourth Lackawanna Prison Employee Sentenced For Sexual Offenses

May 19, 2020 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG― Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that a fourth Lackawanna County Prison employee was sentenced for her role in perpetuating a culture of sexual abuse within the prison. Samantha Heinrich, 36, of Sweet Valley, was today sentenced to 3-18 months of incarceration and 2 years of probation after pleading guilty to two counts of Official Oppression in February 2020. Heinrich, a counselor at the prison, was found guilty of abusing her authority, propositioning inmates, and engaging in sexual acts with them. The plea and sentencing stem from recommendations made by a Statewide Investigating Grand Jury.

“This is another former prison employee who abused their position of authority and contributed to a culture of institutional sexual abuse at the Lackawanna County Prison,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Heinrich was a counselor who was supposed to help people. Instead, they violated the ethical and safety standards of their role and had sexual contact with two inmates.”

The defendant began working as a counselor at Lackawanna County Prison in 2012. As a liaison between inmates and outside agencies and individuals, Heinrich had daily contact with inmates. She is accused of engaging in sexual contact with two male inmates and distributing an inappropriate photo of herself to an inmate.

The prison was notified of Heinrich’s conduct and instigated an investigation. During the course of the investigation, an anonymous letter was sent alleging that Heinrich was engaging in inappropriate conduct and attached a photograph. A search of Heinrich’s office computer revealed inappropriate photos of her in various stages of undress.

Heinrich’s sentencing is the fourth plea from a group of Lackawanna County prison staff for participating in the sexual abuse of inmates. The other three, Jeffrey Staff, George Efthimiou, and James Walsh, pleaded guilty and were sentenced for their roles in the institutional, systemic abuse of incarcerated individuals in Lackawanna County.

Heinrich was sentenced before the Honorable Michael J. Barrasse. The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Elo of the Criminal Prosecutions Section.

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