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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania • Page 20

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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4-B I Sunday, March 17, 1991 The Philadelphia Inquirer For early release, inmates step to beat of boot camp 3u i Special to The Inquirer CLIFF MAUTNER Sam Siligato sits in his basement, which the state police dug up and found nothing. Accused by a he becomes the accuser Tne Pniisoeipnia inquire RON TARVER Daniel Couch and team do push-ups for a formation infraction. CAMP, from I itary formation, standing at attention and yes-sirring everything that moves can get out of prison early. They receive reduced sentences, and while they're here, they get a series of classes in coping with life on the outside. For getting up each day at a.m.

and going to bed at 10 p.m., for living without cigarettes or TV or free time or anything they can call their own, inmates get something almost unheard of in prison: personal attention. They get academic lessons, classes in personal finance, counseling on family relations, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. "In most prisons, it's, 'No, you cant, no, we cant' says Ronan Breaux, 28, of Largo, who is doing time for forging VS. Treasury checks. "But here, it's, 'What do you need?" They're actually concerned." "They keep teaching you that if you can get through this, you can get through anything." Michael Figueroa, 24, of Philadelphia, convicted of cocaine dealing, has been in nine federal institutions in three years.

"I've learned more about discipline and respect and teamwork here in two months than I learned anywhere in 37 months," says Figueroa, who can shave two years off his six-year sentence by successfully completing six months in boot camp. "The other prisons basically just cared about keeping us there they were just warehouses. "Here, the team leaders like Mr. Irvin seem like they're always here; they're even here on their own time. We do push-ups; they do push-ups.

We run; they run. Anywhere else, they don't get involved like that. A hack guardl is just a hack. "Did you ever see An Officer and a Gentleman! Mr. Irvin he's just like Lou Gossett Jr.

Tough, but fair. He ought to get some kind of special commendation or something." Breaux and Figueroa are members of Alpha Team, the first 48-man squad of prisoners to enter the federal boot camp, which started drilling and taking classes on Jan. 28. The ones that don't wash out are scheduled to "graduate" on July 26, when they will be released first to halfway houses near their homes, and then, after several months, be sent home to live and work under federal supervision. "That early release is a hell of a carrot to hang out in front of an inmate," says David A.

Chapman, the prison officer who designed the Lewisburg program and now administers it. "We don't have any intention of making it easy, but the payoff at the end is a very strong incentive for most of these guys." Boot camps are the newest trend in many state prison systems, in response to complaints that existing jails are simply keeping felons out of circulation, while doing very little to change prisoners' attitudes or to prevent their return to criminal lifestyles. Pennsylvania will get on the bandwagon in July when it opens its first state prison boot camp for 100 inmates in Clearfield County. Congress authorized the federal Bureau of Prisons last year to establish a "shock incarceration" program, and if Lewisburg succeeds at reducing recidivism, it may be the model for similar federal boot camps around the country. "Obviously, there was a public outcry to do something different," says Patrick W.

Keohane, warden of Lewisburg Penitentiary. "This is our attempt to do something different" "It would be very naive for anyone to say at this point that it's a great success story, but I like what I see," Keohane says. "Whether it's cost effective and whether it has a long-term impact remains to be seen. But so far, the director and the Bureau of Prisons have been very impressed with what they've seen here. They like the cleanliness, the structure, the inmate attitudes.

I've never seen such enthusiasm among inmates or staff. "And it plays very well with the public." When Lewisburg's boot camp reaches capacity this summer, it will house 192 men between the ages of 18 and 35, serving sentences of 30 months or less for nonviolent crimes. The "clients" have to be in relatively good physical condition, and they must have short criminal records. There will be four teams of 48 prisoners: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. Alpha is two months into its six-month regimen, Bravo started classes on March 4, and Charlie and Delta are still in the works.

Despite the subdued appearance of the Intensive Confinement Center, with its bar-less windows and spotless classrooms, the place is more boot than camp. The inmates are wrung through a grinding schedule, stripped of any individual distinctions and squeezed into a mold designed to make them team players, receptive to peer pressure and the exhortations of their team leaders. They sleep in bunks in two barracks-like rooms, with wooden foot-lockers and metal wardrobes that contain only identical prison-issue garb and toiletries. No pin-ups, no magazines, no personal effects. No one has any money, for there is no commissary and nothing to buy.

There are no phone privileges, except on Sundays, the one day visitors are allowed. Six days a week, the inmates are awakened at 5 a.m., and by 5:25, they are marching to the first physical training session of the day. The day is then filled with military drills, work details, inspections and classes. At 8:30 p.m., they are marched to their barracks for l'i hours of study time and letter-writing. Lights are turned out at 10.

"We're trying to strike a balance between a military boot camp and the traditional values of the Bureau of Prisons philosophy," says Chap man. "It's done in a very strict, mented and disciplined manner. But we want to lead by example we don't believe the right example is to yell and scream, using profanity or, imposing physical punishment." Inmates and guards both profess to like the results so far. The greatest attraction seems to be that there are results. Instead of one day mirroring the next, throughout the limbo of a.

multiyear sentence, progress here is-marked regularly through monthly report cards. "This is the first time I've been really excited about what I'm says Irvin, the veteran prison guard who, as Alpha's team leader, is parr drill instructor, part surrogate father. "Here, you get to know the' people, and they get to know you. know when they're up, I know when they're down. They show me pictures of their kids, they tell me about their families.

Some of them are really proud of themselves now. "If they need a shoulder to cry on, I'm here for that, too. And that's not true inside regular prison walls. You can't show any weakness or any feelings inside the walls, but here, it's different." Breaux, the forger, says what hess learning in prison classes on parent ing, job hunting and stress management will help keep him straight on the outside. "When I was in Petersburg la federal minimum-security prison in Vir ginia, they were teaching me how to, upholster furniture.

Now, I know fop a fact that I'm not going to be an upholsterer when I get out. "But the things I learn here, I can take with me," Breaux says. "And I'll tell you what else after this, I'll always get up at 5 o'clock." using Puerto Rican women to work migrant labor camps in the area. The source said that one night Siligato told him that he had killed one of the prostitutes after she threatened to expose the ring. The woman claimed that she was pregnant with Siligato's child.

During a quarrel in the kitchen of the bar, the source said, Siligato killed her. The source said he was one of four people in the bar at the time and "walked into the kitchen and observed the deceased body of a Puerto Rican female lying on the floor thereof." Later, that source told investigators, he learned that the woman's body had been buried beneath a cement slab behind the bar. A few months after the killing, he said, Siligato built an addition on that slab. The addition is now the living quarters for Siligato and his family. Sam Siligato fingers the files, then flips them on the table in disgust.

He said there was no prostitution ring, no pregnant prostitute, no murders and no buried bodies. He said he was targeted not for what he did. but for whom he knew. One of Siligato's closest friends was James "Jimmy the Brute" DiNatale, identified by police as an organized crime associate who ran a gambling operation in and around the migrant labor camps and in several Latino communities in the Hammonton area. DiNatale, who died in 1983, "was like a second father to me," Siligato said last week.

Another sore point with police, Siligato said, is that in 1980, he and DiNatale were alibi witnesses for mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo in a murder trial in which Scarfo and two codefendants were acquitted. Siligato describes Scarfo as "an acquaintance," but not a friend. But he said that when state police came to his home in July 1985 with a search warrant and excavating tools, Scarfo was one of the topics they wanted to discuss. "They told me now was the time to make a deal," Siligato recalled. "They wanted to know what I knew about Scarfo.

They said they really didn't care if I had murdered anybody, but that this was the time to deal." Siligato said he told Sheeran at that time that there was nothing to discuss. a I said. 'Make a I told him, 'You don't look like Monty Hall and I don't know nothing about any For the next three days, police dug up the crawl space under Siligato's home behind the bar, first pounding through four inches of concrete with jackhammers, then digging five feet into the ground before water began to seep into the excavation area. They also dug under the concrete steps and a rear patio at his deli on the White Horse Pike. They came up with nothing.

Siligato said he never reopened the bar because of the notoriety surrounding the state police action. Television crews from three stations were on hand to film the probe. Siligato has saved videotapes of their reports. He said the deli, which was operated by a couple who rented the building from him, closed a short time later for the same reason. "That was more than five years ago," Siligato said last week, after offering a quick tour of the now cave-like crawl space under his home.

There are mounds of dirt and nearly a dozen wooden beams wedged to support the foundation of the building. It is all, Siligato said, as the state police left it. "I'd like to put this all behind me," he said. But first, he said, he wants the civil suit resolved. Already, Judge Connor has granted him a judgment for property damage, the amount of which has not been determined.

Still to be settled are the civil rights questions and the issue of the identification of the source. That issue took another twist when Siligato and his attorney turned up the October 1985 grand jury testimony of Sheeran, the investigator who signed the July 1985 affidavit used to obtain the search warrant. Sheeran's testimony, three months after the search, contradicted information in the affidavit on one key point. In the affidavit, Sheeran said his source was in the Silly Gator and saw the body on the night the slaying supposedly occurred. Before the grand jury, he testified that his source was not in the bar but had heard about the incident from someone else.

"My source was told by someone" who was in the bar that night, he said. In his ruling last month, Connor called the information provided by a source's source "double hearsay" and said it "raised some questions" about the way the search warrant was obtained and the investigation was conducted. He then ordered the state police to provide Siligato with the names of both the source and the source's source. Connor also said the result of the possibly tainted warrant was a "search where not much was accomplished other than getting muddy and dirty." SOURCE, from I declined to comment last week because the lawsuit is still pending. In court papers filed in the case, however, law enforcement officials have defended the need to protect sources and have denied that there was any impropriety in the investigation.

There is not much on the record about "the murders." State police detectives have said they did not know the names of the supposed victims when they began their investigation in 1985, nor did they have any missing person reports to corroborate allegations that a man and a woman had been killed and buried. Documents obtained by Siligato and his attorney through the civil suit demonstrate the kinds of information that formed the basis for the investigation. Not all of it presents Siligato in the best of light. But during a two-hour interview in his home on Pleasant Mills Road in Hammon-ton last week, he opened the files and spread them out on a kitchen table. Those records include the sworn affidavit of State Police Detective John Sheeran, who spearheaded the Siligato investigation.

The 10-page document was the basis for a court-authorized search warrant and the three days of digging in 1985. The affidavit reveals that three sources named Siligato as a murder suspect. One was a rogue FBI agent who was later convicted of dealing in stolen motor vehicles and construction equipment. He told authorities that he and Siligato were partners in the thefts. Siligato was never charged in the case.

In a debriefing after his arrest in February 1985, the agent, Arthur B. Hall, also told New Jersey authorities that Siligato boasted that he had beaten a man to death in a dispute over money. Hall, the only source identified by name, also implied that the victim was buried under the concrete steps in front of a delicatessen that Siligato owned on the White Horse Pike in the Hammonton area. Later that year, a second source told authorities that Siligato had said he was responsible for "two grave-sites" in the Hammonton area. Siligato, that source told authorities, also said that the way to dispose of a body was to bury it under a bag of lime.

A third source recounted a tale about a slaying one night in 1980 in the Silly Gator, a bar that Siligato owned on Pleasant Mills Road in the heart of Hammon ton's farm country. That source, according to the affidavit, said that Siligato was operating a prostitution ring out of the bar, Do You Have Jewelry To Sell? Knowing where to sell your jewelry is as important as knowing where to buy your jewelry. Sell your jewelry to Jack Kellmer Co. Our jewelry experts will pay you the highest prices immediately. Jack Kellmer Co.

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