- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A gunbattle erupted inside a federal prison yesterday when a guard opened fire on FBI agents who had come to arrest him and several others on charges of having sex with female inmates in exchange for money, alcohol and marijuana. Two persons were killed and another was wounded.

The guard and a U.S. Justice Department investigator died, said a law-enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. A prison employee helping with the arrest was hospitalized.

Six guards had been indicted Tuesday in a purported sex-for-contraband scheme that authorities said had been occurring for two years.

When FBI agents and Justice Department investigators arrived at the prison yesterday to arrest the men, one of the indicted guards shot a federal correctional officer, FBI spokesman John Girgenti said.

The law-enforcement official said the guard fired with a personal weapon, wounding a Bureau of Prisons employee who was assisting with the arrest. Agents from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General returned fire, killing the guard, the official said.

Officials did not release the gunman’s identity, but lawyer Tim Jansen said the dead guard was Ralph Hill, his client. The name of the other victim and the condition of the survivor were not released.

The detention center houses mostly men who are being processed before entering the prison system and is part of the Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution. A low-security prison for female inmates is next to the detention center. The men’s and women’s units house 1,445 inmates in all.

Guards are prohibited from bringing personal weapons into prisons but are not screened the way visitors are, said federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Carla Wilson.

In addition to the sex charges, the guards were accused of threatening to plant contraband in inmates’ belongings or have the inmates sent to other institutions farther from their families if they reported the illegal activity.

According to the indictment, the guards showed inmates information about themselves and others on the prison computer system to prove their threats were real. It said the guards switched assignments to arrange trysts with inmates.

The five other guards entered not-guilty pleas in federal court and were scheduled for a bail hearing today.

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