The county saw widespread attention being paid yesterday to a controversy surrounding the wife of criminal defense attorney Gerald Benyo. The attorney has alleged that his incarcerated wife, Sharon Benyo, is being retaliated against by jail officials because of issues he raised about the facility while representing a man facing the death penalty.
The Beaver Countian’s sources inside of the jail and courthouse have helped to piece together what’s unfolded over the past 24 hours:
– Attorney Gerald Benyo showed up at the Beaver County Courthouse and interrupted a meeting taking place by County Officials about Friendship Ridge. Benyo demanded to speak to the Commissioners about his wife’s treatment at the jail. The Commissioners threatened to have Benyo escorted from the room by Sheriff’s Deputies if he didn’t leave the meeting, which was not open to the public. Benyo left on his own accord, subsequently going upstairs and having a brief conversation with District Attorney Anthony Berosh in the hallway about his wife.
– Following a meeting with his client at the jail, Attorney Gerald Benyo wrote a second letter to President Judge McBride, notifying him that he will not be resigning as counsel for Beau Chermer. Beyno had previously written a letter to Judge McBride notifying him that he was resigning due to a conflict of interest that now exists in his involvement in the death penalty case due to his wife’s alleged mistreatment in the Beaver County Jail.
– Attorney Benyo filed a court motion in his wife’s criminal case asking a judge to intervene in the alleged retaliation taking place against her at the jail. That motion will go before either Judge Richard Mancini, who originally sentenced Sharon Benyo, or Judge Harry Knafelc, who oversees criminal cases.
– Attorney Gerald Benyo sent a letter to the Warden yesterday after his mother was prevented from visiting Sharon Benyo in the jail. Warden Schouppe fired back a letter to Benyo within hours, notifying him his wife was denied the visitation because it wasn’t visiting day. County Officials say incorrect information about visiting hours for female inmates in solitary confinement are written in literature from the facility and are also incorrectly stated on the jail’s automated phone system.
– Jail Officials have notified Sharon Benyo that she will now be permitted to attend the 1 remaining alcohol treatment class she needs to fulfill a court mandated condition for possible early release.
– Sharon Benyo has become ill since being placed into solitary confinement, leading jail guards to transport her via wheelchair through the facility. The jail has seen dozens of inmates becoming sick over the past week. Some correctional officers insist it’s a wave of food poisoning, while the facility’s medical staff have concluded it’s a virus.
– Warden William Schouppe held an administrative appeal hearing at the Beaver County Jail yesterday for Sharon Benyo. Her husband was not permitted to represent her or be present for the hearing, which saw the Warden reduce Benyo’s time in solitary confinement from 30 days to 15. The Warden suspended the remaining 15 days, which could see Benyo back in the hole if “additional misconduct” occurs.
– “I was informally advised at the Beaver County Courthouse that after the Commissioners met with the Warden it was decided there would never be a formal hearing granted as to the appeal of the disciplinary actions taken against my wife, and that everything would be decided by officials of the Beaver County Jail without review by even the Prison Board,” Benyo told the Beaver Countian after learning of Schouppe’s decision. County Officials have declined to comment publicly on the matter.