BLUEFIELD, W.Va. – Five federal inmates pleaded guilty today to possessing weapons at the Federal Correctional Institution at McDowell, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. As part of separate prosecutions, Scott Finnell, 29, Misael Santana-Rivera, 32, Antonio R. Azpeitia, 40, Ernest Shields, 42, and Diego Ninos, 30, entered their guilty pleas to possession of a weapon by an inmate of the institution.
Each inmate admitted to possessing a handcrafted weapon, commonly referred to as a “shank.” This year, from March until June, the weapons were either observed or discovered through searches by staff members of the Federal Correctional Institution at McDowell. The objects were made out of a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and wood, and were sharpened to a point at one end. The inmates all admitted that the shanks were designed and intended to be used as weapons.
Each inmate faces up to five years in federal prison in addition to the sentences they are currently serving. Santana-Rivera, Shields, and Azpeitia are scheduled to be sentenced on January 23, 2018. Finnell and Ninos are scheduled for sentencing on January 24, 2018.
These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Assistant United States Attorney John File is handling these prosecutions. Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber presided over the plea hearings.