2 inmates sentenced for roles in NY prison riot
At least five COs were sent to the hospital after the 2019 incident
By Kelly Rocheleau
AUBURN, N.Y.—Two men have been sentenced to additional prison time for their roles in a 2019 riot at Auburn Correctional Facility.
Phillip Bradley, 29, and Russell Williams, 35, who were convicted by a jury in May, were sentenced by Judge Mark Fandrich in Cayuga County Court Tuesday. The two were indicted in January 2020 along with three other inmates, and were both convicted of first-degree riot, a class E felony. Williams was also convicted of second-degree assault, a class D felony.
Cayuga County Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Valdina said Tuesday that Bradley instigated the riot when he hit a correctional officer. He also noted that Bradley has a "lengthy" criminal history.
Valdina recommended the maximum sentence for the riot charge, which is two to four years in prison.
Ben Susman, Bradley's attorney, argued for his client receiving one and a half to three years. Susman said he felt Bradley had "changed his ways" during his time in prison. Speaking for himself, Bradley maintained his innocence.
"I didn't hurt anybody. I didn't hurt any officers," he said.
Fandrich sentenced Bradley to two to four years in state prison, a $2,000 fine and other fees.
Valdina argued that Williams had injured a corrections officer during a violent struggle. Williams' attorney, Joseph Sapio, asked that Fandrich impose a sentence of five years in prison and five years of post-release supervision for the assault and two to four years for the riot charge. As of May, Williams was incarcerated at Great Meadow Correctional Facility on a 13-year sentence for a 2010 robbery conviction in Kings County.
Fandrich ultimately opted to sentence Williams to seven years in prison and five years of post-release supervision on the assault count and two to four years on the riot offense, running concurrently, along with a $3,000 fine and other fees.
"We want to send a message: 'You can't riot in the prison,'" Valdina said after court.
The Auburn riot happened May 11, 2019, exactly two years before the verdict earlier this year. The situation involved 25 to 30 inmates, with at least five corrections officers sent to the hospital for treatment, including one who missed several months of work after shoulder surgery. The melee ended with correction officers firing teargas into the prison yard.
District Attorney Jon Budelmann previously said that Bradley "sparked" the riot when he struck an officer who was escorting him from the prison yard for a disciplinary violation and then "violently fought" three officers before they could handcuff him. Budelmann had also said Williams "attacked and violently fought with" several correction officers during the incident.
Co-defendants Michael Motta, Kenneth Scott and Darryl Wright were all indicted for their involvement in the scene along with Bradley and Williams. Budelmann previously said those three are awaiting trial this summer.
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