Ruling provides rare detail on prison “muscling”

Muscling in prisons and jails is pernicious, prevalent, and for square johns – folks who live law-abiding, straight lives – a confusing concept. Muscling is akin, in many ways, to bullying, except that in prison, it is a means to secure drugs, weapons, sex, information or just about anything that one convict, or a group of convicts, wants. It’s rare to see a muscling incident examined publicly, with names attached. The heavies – gang bosses, drug lords and psychos who are most active behind bars as musclers – don’t want their corrupt schemes exposed because that threatens to disrupt supply chains. Muscling is the spigot through which contraband flows into prisons. A recent decision of the Federal Court offers rare, detailed insight into a fairly common muscling scam in which the family member of a prisoner is under pressure to smuggle goods into a penitentiary.

The events took place at Fenbrook, a medium-security prison in Ontario, near Gravenhurst. Although it’s uncertain, based on the court record, whether the muscling actually took place, the record explains that one convict complained that he was muscled. In short, the prisoner told authorities that he was stabbed because he refused to submit to the demands of several convicts who were muscling him. In the scenario explained by the purported victim, one participant in the muscling scheme was paroled prisoner Imad Hermiz. Hermiz stabbed a man to death in the Toronto area in 2005 and was later convicted of manslaughter. He spent three years behind bars before he was released.

Here’s the detailed description, contained in the Federal Court decision, of the alleged muscling incident involving Hermiz:

4.         Mr. Hermiz was sentenced on March 7, 2007 for a conviction of manslaughter for stabbing a man at a hotel party. In provincial custody he incurred charges or convictions related to drugs.
5.         On October 7, 2007, Mr. Hermiz was transferred to Fenbrook Medium Institution (FMI). On December 20, 2007, Mr. Hermiz was moved to a living area (a “range”) of up to 9 inmates, one of whom was Jason Bolan.
6.         On May 20, 2008, Mr. Hermiz was released on a conditional release known as “day parole” to St. Leonard’s Peel Community Residential Facility (CRF) in Toronto and placed under the supervision of community parole officer Hamza Al-Baghdadi (“PO Al-Baghdadi”).
7.         On June 19, 2008, Jason Bolan met with FMI Security Intelligence Officer Holly Goldthorp (SIO Goldthorp) to discuss his wife visiting the institution on June 22, 2008. Mr. Bolan advised that he had been stabbed the previous day because he refused to assist in bringing drugs to FMI.
8.         Mr. Bolan told SIO Goldthorp that Imad Hermiz had appeared on his wife’s doorstep with a package for her to deliver to FMI. Mrs. Bolan had described the individual who appeared on her doorstep and Mr. Bolan recognised Mr. Hermiz from the description. Mr. Bolan also advised that Mr. Hermiz had been close to the individuals who had just assaulted him in relation to the same plot to import drugs.
9.         SIO Goldthorp investigated the allegations and found that Mr. Bolan and Mr. Hermiz had lived on the same range together for six months immediately before Mr. Hermiz’s release on parole. She discovered no basis for an ulterior motive, observed that Mr. Bolan appeared legitimately concerned for his wife’s safety and that he was assuming a significant risk to his life by publicly informing on a fellow offender.
10.      SIO Goldthorp called PO Al-Baghdadi the same day to advise of the information concerning Mr. Hermiz. Shortly thereafter she sent a report of the information she had received to PO Al‑Baghdadi.
11.      PO Al-Baghdadi telephoned Mrs. Bolan to discuss the allegations. Mrs. Bolan sounded nervous, uncomfortable, and unwilling to cooperate with the investigation into the incident. She indicated that it was dark and the three individuals who attended at her house were wearing heavy coats. She also indicated that the visit took place three months prior, contrary to the information provided by her husband. PO Al-Baghdadi found that Mrs. Bolan was being vague and that her behaviour was consistent with a witness recanting an earlier statement due to a fear of retaliation.
12.      PO Al-Baghdadi held a case conference with his supervisor, parole officer supervisor Phil Schiller (“POS Schiller”) to determine whether this information created an increased risk to the community. Upon reviewing the plaintiff’s profile and the information received, a warrant of suspension of parole and apprehension was issued.
13.      On June 23, 2008, PO Al-Baghdadi held a post-suspension interview with Mr. Hermiz. PO Al-Baghdadi found that the plaintiff was not credible. Furthermore, Mr. Hermiz admitted to being involved with drugs at FMI.
14.      Later that day, PO Al-Baghdadi and POS Schiller held a second case conference to consider cancelling the suspension of Mr. Hermiz’s day parole. They decided to wait for further information which might require a second post-suspension interview. No new information was received and a transfer warrant moving Mr. Hermiz to Kingston Penitentiary Temporary Detention Unit was issued on July 4, 2008.
15.      PO Al-Baghdadi requested that institutional parole officer Jennifer Leplant interview Mr. Hermiz at Kingston Penitentiary Temporary Detention Unit regarding his suspension. At that time Mr. Hermiz denied being involved with drugs at FMI, contrary to his statement to PO Al-Baghdadi.
16.      A recommendation to revoke Mr. Hermiz’s day parole was prepared for the PBC (Parole Board of Canada) on July 11, 2008. An addendum to this recommendation was prepared on July 15, 2008. On September 9, 2008, the PBC cancelled the suspension of Mr. Hermiz’s day parole.

Hermiz pleaded guilty in 2007 to the killing that put him in prison.

By Bob Mitchell
Toronto Star Staff Reporter
Published on Wed Feb 28, 2007
A Brampton man today made a surprise guilty plea, admitting that he killed another man during a fight in a motel room nearly two years ago.
Imad Hermiz, 20, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the stabbing death of Carlos Grundy, 21, of Toronto on March 25, 2005.
Justice Casey Hill accepted the man’s guilty plea and remanded him until March 7 for sentencing. He has been in custody since his arrest.
“Guilty, your honour,” Hermiz said when asked by Hill how he pled to causing the unlawful death of Grundy.
Hermiz later appeared in another Brampton courtroom where Justice Terry O’Connor informed a jury that their services were no longer needed.
The convicted man pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder when his jury trial began about two weeks ago.
Two other men initially accused of second-degree murder, Kallister Carrington, 21, and Barnett Lugemwa, 21, previously had their charges withdrawn.
In an odd coincidence, Grundy’s older brother Orlando, then 22, was murdered six weeks earlier in Toronto when he was hit by gunfire as he tried to shield Carlos and another brother from bullets in a Kipling Ave. apartment.
There was no connection to either slayings, police said.
In an agreed statement of facts read into court by crown prosecutor Alex Cornelius, Hermiz admitted he stabbed Grundy in the right side of his chest moments after the victim struck him on his head with a beer bottle during an altercation inside a third floor room at a Motel 6 in Brampton,
In accepting his version of events and finding him guilty, Justice Hill told the court that both sides agreed there had been some provocation that led to the fatal knife attack.
Grundy and several friends attended a party in one room in the motel that night while Hermiz and his friends were partying in another room.
Court heard how Grundy and two friends were in the lobby of the motel at about 1:15 a.m. the following morning when he had a brief conversation with two female friends from Hermiz and his group, including Carrington’s girlfriend.
“Grundy tried to engage in a conversation with them,” Cornelius said.
At about 2:27 a.m. the Hermiz group’s party was breaking up and people were heading home when members of that group discovered that a driver was delivering a pizza to the Grundy room where a birthday celebration was still under way.
Court heard how Carrington’s girlfriend asked Hermiz to go with him and his friends to the room where the pizza was being delivered because she was concerned for his safety.
“Grundy answered the door and a verbal dispute started,” Cornelius said.
Court heard that a verbal argument quickly escalated into a fight and that Grundy picked up a beer bottle and struck Hermiz over his head.
“Hermiz fell to the ground, then immediately got up and pulled out his knife and stabbed Grundy,” Cornelius said.
Court heard how the knife entered the right side of Grundy’s chest and punctured his lung and liver. He died a short time later in hospital.
Hermiz and his friends then fled. Police discovered the weapon later that day and he was arrested that evening.

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