A year after American-Israeli killed prison guard, prison commanders face punishment

The murderer and gun smuggler was an American who fled to Israel in 1997 and was tried in abstenia.

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February 19, 2015 13:20
2 minute read.
Eshel Prison

Eshel Prison. (photo credit: ISRAEL PRISON SERVICE)

Almost a year after an inmate used a smuggled pistol to go on a shooting spree at Rimonim Prison, the facility’s commander and deputy commander have been removed from their posts as part of disciplinary actions carried out by the Prisons Service.

It said Thursday that the two commanders are among a total of 16 employees who face disciplinary action following the incident on February 23, 2014, when Samuel Sheinbein, an American-Israeli dual citizen and convicted murder opened fire on guards with a pistol he had smuggled into the prison and stashed in his cell.

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Sheinbein, 34, was shot dead during the standoff, and several prison guards were shot by the inmate, including one who was seriously wounded.

All of the non-senior employees among the group of 16 will receive warnings and no further disciplinary actions. In addition to the commander and deputy head of the prison, most of the officers will also not be eligible for promotion for a period of between two to four years.

The Prisons Service said it had implemented new regulations following the shooting, in particular regarding inmate searches and the guidelines for inmate employment inside prisons.

Following the shooting, the Public Security Ministry appointed a committee to examine the incident. The panel included former director- general of the Justice Ministry Guy Rotkopf; Brig.-Gen. (res.) Miki Barel, former head of the Justice Ministry’s unit for investigating police; former commander of the police’s Northern District warden (ret.) Yitzhak Gabai; and asst.-warden (ret.) Debbie Saguy, former head of the Prisons Service instruction department. It found that a series of systemic and personnel failures led to the shooting.

The probe found that prison personnel had not updated their procedures for carrying out searches or working intelligence on prisoners, and had treated the smuggling of weapons as a secondary concern.



The probe also found that Sheinbein had too much unsupervised free time during his hours doing custodial work, and that he exploited this freedom to smuggle in a mobile phone, a prison master key, knives, car keys, a fake pistol silencer, and more contraband items that he acquired during the 96 furloughs he received while behind bars.

They ruled that Sheinbein smuggled the pistol into the prison by stashing it on or inside the car of a prison worker, whose vehicles he often washed, or that he stashed it in an area of the prison grounds he had access to during his hours performing custodial work.

The Prison Service said Thursday that one of the changes they have adopted is banning the entry of personnel vehicles to prison facilities.

Sheinbein fled to Israel in 1997 in order to escape extradition for the brutal murder of Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr. in Maryland earlier in the year. He was eventually tried in absentia in Israel and convicted of murder.


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