ROBERT ROBINSON

by Julian Heicklen

Captain Tom Papuga, Intelligence Officer at SCI Somerset, and Captain Daniel Walker at SCI Somerset had two threatening letters they were investigating. Robert Robinson AM­8713 was interviewed by State Trooper Arnold in Captain Papuga's office during the last week of January or the first week of February 1997. Captain Papuga was present during the interview. Mr. Robinson was asked about a threatening letter to Governor Ridge sent under the name of G. Brown AM­7448. Mr. Robinson told Trooper Arnold everything that he knew about the letter and who was responsible for it. Mr. Robinson then was handed the letter, which was typed, and the envelope by Trooper Arnold, so that he could examine them. Mr. Robinson examined the letter and returned it to Trooper Arnold. Captain Papuga questioned Mr. Robinson about the letter.

Captain Papuga alleged in two Misconduct Reports that crime lab tests were done on the letter and envelope and Robinson's finger prints were found on them. Mr. Robinson received Misconduct Reports 772367 and 772370 from Captain Papuga, both dated February 27, 1997. Also he was issued two Confiscation Item Receipts for two threatening letters.

According to Misconduct Report 772370 of Captain Papuga concerning the letter to Ms. Gladys Reid sent under the name of Davis, Captain Papuga interviewed 3 Confidential Sources of Information (CSIs) who indicated that Robinson believed Davis had reported him for running a credit-card fraud operation. Also there was evidence from the CSIs that Robinson called Brown a snitch. The crime lab report showed that Robinson's fingerprints were on the letter sent under Brown's name.

Mr. Robinson had his hearing on the Misconduct Reports on March 4, 1997. He requested assistance from a friend, Robert Davis CB­5776, but the request was denied for security reasons. Mr. Robinson claims that Captain Papuga told the friend not to assist Robinson, so he did not. Mr. Robinson claims that he did not find out about this until after the hearing.

According to the report of the hearing examiner, M. J. Matthews, the inmate pleaded not guilty to both Misconduct's and challenged the veracity of the CSIs. The information against Robinson was obtained from one CSI on February 28, 1997. Each statement was independently corroborated. The CSI indicated how each informant was in a position to observe the incident. From other CSIs, the investigating officer was able to determine that Robinson did not like Brown and called him a snitch. The report also states that after the letter of December 2, 1996, was written castigating Ms Reid, a letter was sent to Governor Ridge's family. The letter of December 2, 1996, used inmate Davis' name as the sender. Davis was also considered a snitch by Robinson. There was a similarity between the two letters in the way the terms were expressed. The letter to Governor Brown had the fingerprints of Mr. Robinson, but no mention was made about fingerprints of Brown. Also no mention was made about fingerprints on the letter to Ms. Reid.

Mr. Robinson was found guilty of sending the letter in the name of Brown and given 90 days from March 17, 1997, to June 14, 1997. There was no indication that either Brown or Davis were present at the hearing. The second Misconduct was in regard to the letter sent under the name of Davis to Ms. Reid. Again Mr. Robinson was found guilty based on information from CSIs. The investigators were able to determine that Robinson believed that Davis had reported him for running a credit-card fraud operation. Each CSI gave independent statements that Robinson called Davis a snitch. The hearing examiner found Robinson guilty and sentenced him to 90 days from June 14, 1997 to September 11, 1997. There was no indication in either report that Robinson gave testimony or objected to proceeding with the hearings. Also there was no indication in the report that the letters or the laboratory report were present, or even that the hearing examiner had seen the evidence.

At the hearing, Mr. Robinson claims that he asked the hearing examiner, Mr. Matthews, to produce both threatening letters, because Robinson had never seen one of them. He also asked to see the laboratory test report. The hearing examiner did not have either the letters or the laboratory test report. Mr. Robinson repeatedly announced that he was not prepared to proceed, but the hearing continued anyway. Mr. Robinson attempted to give his side of the story with Inmate Version form DC­141 part 11C. The hearing examiner stated that he did not want to hear Robinson's side of the story, because he had already made up his mind about both misconduct reports. He just took the Inmate Version form from him.

Robinson's Inmate Version statement gives many technical reasons challenging the veracity of the CSI reports regarding the snitch charges. He also explains how his finger prints got on the letter. He also goes into great length about procedural violations in conducting the investigation.

Mr. Robinson appealed both misconduct decisions to the Program Review Committee (PRC) on March 9, 1997. In the reply to his appeal to the PRC, Mr. Robinson was informed that Davis did not appear at the hearing, because he refused to testify. The response also claims that Robinson was allowed to present his case as stated in paragraph 2 of the hearing examiner's report. (There were two hearing examiner's reports, one regarding the Brown letter and one regarding the Davis letter. The 2nd paragraph of both reports was identical and stated in its entirety: "Inmate pled not guilty to the charges and denied writing the letter and challenged the veracity of the confidential sources of information." None of the written statements in the inmate's version [2 pages] were included in the hearing examiner's report.)

When the appeal to the PRC was denied, Mr. Robinson appealed to Superintendent Raymond J. Soloina at SCI Somerset. That appeal also was denied. Mr. Robinson had two final appeals prepared to send to Camp Hill, but they were confiscated from his footlocker when he was transferred to SCI Greensburg, so he could not complete the appeal process.

On March 21, 1997, Mr. Robinson was transferred to SCI Greensburg. After the transfer, all of his legal material was missing from his personal belongings. He served 180 days in DC RHU which ended on September 11, 1997. He then was put on AC status pending transfer on October 1, 1997, to SCI Greene County. His fiancee spoke with his counselor at SCI Greene County, Steve Turets, and with DOC Commissioner Martin Horn's secretary, who told her that Robinson should be released from RHU in the first week in November. As of March 2, 1998, He was still held in the RHU at SCI Greene County.

Mr. Robinson filed a Grievance Report about his legal material being missing at SCI Greensburg. Superintendent English and Captain Shultz said that they could not return something that they did not have and denied the Grievance.

In summary, most of the evidence and testimony at the hearing revolved around Robinson calling Brown and Davis snitches. This is all that the CSIs reported. Mr. Robinson challenged the testimony based on a number of technical violations in procedure. There is a convincing case that Robinson called Davis and Brown snitches. In regard to the letters, the only evidence is the fingerprints on one letter, which Robinson explains happened when he was given the letter to read. The only date we have for that incident is the last week in January or the first week in February. No date is given for the laboratory tests, which were not even produced at the hearing. Apparently it did not occur to anyone that if the laboratory report with the fingerprint evidence was made prior to the meeting with Arnold and Papuga, the evidence is valid, but that if the laboratory report was made after the interview, the evidence is worthless. Both Mr. Robinson and I (Julian Heicklen) wrote to the State Police Bureau of Forensics and Criminal Identification to get a copy of the report, but we were denied the report. I called the Bureau to find out the date of the report, but could not get that information. Mr. Robinson claims that he has never seen the laboratory report or the letter to Ms Reid, which does not have his fingerprints.

Neither Brown nor Davis appeared at the hearing, even though Robinson requested that Davis appear. The letter to Ms. Reid sent by Davis was dated December 2, 1996. The only reference to the time of the letter to the Governor from Brown was "several weeks after the letter to Ms. Reid." The laboratory test for finger prints was done by the PA State Police Crime Laboratory. There is no evidence that the hearing examiner saw either the letters or the laboratory report.

Click here for more on Robert Robinson