HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A fourth Lackawanna County Prison employee has been sentenced after pleading guilty to abusing her authority and participating in systematic sexual oppression of inmates, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday.
Samantha Heinrich, 36, of Sweet Valley, was sentenced to 3-18 months in prison and 2 years of probation after pleading to two counts of Official Oppression back in February. According to a press release, Heinrich was a counselor at the prison when she was found guilty of “abusing her authority, propositioning inmates, and engaging in sexual acts with them.”
“This is another former prison employee who abused their position of authority and contributed to a culture of institutional sexual abuse at the Lackawanna County Prison,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Heinrich was a counselor who was supposed to help people. Instead, they violated the ethical and safety standards of their role and had sexual contact with two inmates.”
Heinrich had daily contact with inmates since she began working as a counselor in 2012. During an investigation into her conduct, which allegedly included engaging in sexual contact with two male inmates and distributing an inappropriate photo of herself to an inmate, an anonymous letter was sent with a photograph alleging the abuse. A search of Heinrich’s office computer revealed inappropriate photos of her in various stages of undress.
Heinrich’s sentencing is the fourth of a group of Lackawanna County prison staff for participating in the sexual abuse of inmates. The other three, Jeffrey Staff, George Efthimiou and James Walsh, pleaded guilty and were sentenced for their roles in the institutional, systemic abuse of incarcerated individuals in Lackawanna County.