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Carbon corrections officer charged with punching inmate

A Carbon County corrections officer, who sent in his resignation earlier this week, faces charges of simple assault after he struck a restrained inmate while working a shift earlier this year. The incident has led to the suspension of the prison warden, as well as a second corrections officer.

Carbon County Detective Timothy Nothstein filed charges against Gerard Anthony Babb Jr., 31, of Schnecksville, on Wednesday following an investigation that stemmed from the Feb. 7 assault.

According to the affidavit, Nothstein received information on the February incident at the correctional facility in Nesquehoning on March 12.

The information was that two corrections officers, one identified as Babb, punched, choked and sprayed an inmate while he was restrained.

Surveillance footage showed that at 5:38 p.m., the victim was strapped into a restraint chair in the multipurpose room at the facility and was trying to move or wiggle over to a bunk bed.

The inmate was successful in moving close enough to the bed to pull it.

Two minutes later, Babb and the other corrections officer are seen trying to remove the victim’s grip from the bed, but the inmate was resisting.

Eventually, they move the inmate, still restrained in the chair, to the center of the room.

Nothstein said it is during this time that Babb punches the victim in the face twice and then begins to choke him. He then leaves and returns one minute later shaking a canister before spraying the victim in the face.

Two minutes later, the other corrections officer returns to the room and tips the chair that the victim is restrained to and lays it on its back with the victim now facing the ceiling. He then returns and picks up the chair and victim, surveillance footage shows.

On March 18, Nothstein interviewed the victim, who said that he had tried to head butt Babb while in the restraint chair when he was being moved, the affidavit states.

On March 23, Nothstein interviewed the other suspended corrections officer, who admitted that the incident occurred, but said that he wasn’t sure why Babb punched, choked or sprayed the victim.

The second officer in the incident said that he only laid down the chair because Babb told him to do so and then returned to right the chair after another corrections officer told him what Babb told him to do was wrong.

He also said that he provided aid to the victim and Babb did not help.

On March 24, the sergeant who was on duty the night of the incident was interviewed and confirmed the story.

The corrections officer who corrected Sandy regarding the chair also said she had spoke with Babb and said he told her that the victim “tried to bite me” so what he did was justified in that situation.

In addition to two counts of assault, Babb faces charges of official oppression and reckless endangerment of another person, misdemeanors and harassment, a summary offense.

He faces a preliminary hearing before District Judge Casimir Kosciolek on May 26.

Babb’s resignation, which was effective Tuesday the county personnel report stated, was acknowledged by the county commissioners on Thursday during their weekly meeting. The commissioners did not accept the resignation.

Warden Timothy Fritz, who was also suspended March 17 with Babb and the other corrections officer, remains suspended, Sheriff Anthony Harvilla said via email Thursday afternoon.

Commissioners’ Chairman Wayne Nothstein said the investigation is ongoing.

Deputy Warden Ryan Long is in charge at the prison for the time being.