- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A federal prosecutor in Kansas who said in court last year that she had not listened to recorded phone calls between defendants and their attorneys at the Leavenworth Detention Center has left the U.S. Attorney’s Office after admitting to her supervisor that she did listen to some calls.

Federal prosecutors notified U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on May 16 that Erin Tomasic was no longer working for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas. Three days later, Robinson ordered an expansion into that office, citing ongoing problems with prosecutors’ “inconsistent” statements and the destruction of “critical evidence.”

Court documents filed June 19 show that Tomasic admitted to her supervisor that she listened to recorded phone conversations of two defendants and attorneys at the privately-run Leavenworth detention center, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/2siVIpy ).

The court filings, signed by U.S. Attorney Tom Beall and two assistant U.S. attorneys, say they are meant to correct statements by Tomasic that “may be deemed misleading.”

Tomasic told a federal judge in September 2016 that law enforcement has not listened to recorded defendant-attorney phone calls prosecutors obtained while investigating contraband at the prison. Tomasic later revealed she had listened to some of the recordings two months earlier, according to the court documents.

“Tomasic expressed remorse for having listened to the defendant’s calls,” the federal prosecutors wrote. “And for not revealing this action sooner.”

Tomasic also came under scrutiny last year when Robinson complained that she had entered the judge’s chambers after hours, without permission, after having delivered evidence in the investigation to Robinson’s office earlier in the day.

The prison recordings investigation grew from an earlier criminal investigation into contraband at the Leavenworth Detention Center, which is operated by CoreCivic Inc., formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. Many of the people held at the prison are defendants awaiting trial who have not been convicted.

Two former inmates at the detention center are suing CoreCivic and the prison’s telephone provider, Securus Technologies. Their lawsuit, filed June 1, alleges that their calls and other inmates’ calls to their attorneys were recorded in violation of federal, Kansas and Missouri anti-wiretapping laws. The former detainees, Ashley Huff and Gregory Rapp, were held at the detention center in 2015 awaiting trial in a drug and money laundering case. They are seeking at least $5 million in damages on behalf of all affected detainees.

Their lawsuit was filed less than five months after two attorneys, Adam Crane, and David Johnson, filed a lawsuit against CoreCivic, based in Nashville, Tennessee, and Securus, headquartered in Dallas, which also accuses the firms of violating state wiretap laws by recording their conversations with clients.

A court-appointed special master investigating the recordings reported that law enforcement obtained 188 attorney-client phone calls from the prison, including 54 marked “private” that should not have been available.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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