Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

January 5, 2000

Sing Sing Officer charged in planting of ammunition contributing to lock down

A Correction Officer at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Westchester County was charged Tuesday night in connection with planting five rounds of ammunition in the maximum-security prison that contributed to its being locked down since December 24, Commissioner Glenn S. Goord said today.

Officer Hanser Hernandez, 24, was charged with filing a false report and offering a false instrument for filing, both Class A misdemeanors, following an investigation conducted by the Department and the Division of State Police. He was issued an appearance ticket on the charges, returnable on January 13 in Ossining village court. Hernandez, who joined the Department in January 1998, resigned this afternoon from his $30,570-a-year job.

The afternoon of Christmas Eve day, Hernandez reported to supervisors that, based upon a tip from an inmate informant, he had discovered five live rounds of 9mm ammunition hidden in a fire hose box accessible to inmates. Coincidentally, Hernandez had earlier deposited his personal 9mm handgun at the facility arsenal when he came on duty. The rounds and Hernandez' weapon were handed over to the State Police. On Christmas Day, they were examined at the State Police Forensic Investigation Center in Albany, but no conclusive match could be made. The follow-up investigation led to last night's charges. The Department will not comment further on the investigation.

On December 26, Commissioner Goord ordered a search of all cells and common areas at Sing Sing while the lock down continued. He said, "While my concern over the possibility of inmates possessing additional ammunition, and the ability to fire it, contributed to the lock down, that issue was just the final one leading me to conclude a lock down was in order."

Commissioner Goord noted information obtained in recent weeks that, not only were Sing Sing inmates planning to be active participants in a rumored New Year's work stoppage, but that there were threats of violence as well. In addition, leaflets had been distributed warning inmates that any of them who "fraternized" with staff faced reprisals from other inmates.

In addition, the inmate populations at both the maximum-security main facility housing 1,733 inmates, and the 531 inmates in the medium-security Tappan component, were wearing state-issued green clothing to the mess hall and remaining silent during meals. Both actions were interpreted as inmates demonstrating their support for the planned strike.

Sing Sing remains locked down today.