Ex-prison guard to stand trial

A former Fayette County corrections officer who was fired for allegedly smuggling tobacco and prescription narcotics into the county jail was held for trial on criminal charges Tuesday after a preliminary hearing.

Tim Hamborsky, 48, of Connellsville, is charged by the Fayette County Drug Task Force with possessing a controlled substance, possessing with intent to deliver and bringing contraband into a prison.

Police allege Hamborsky, who had been a prison guard for 21 years, agreed to smuggle the tobacco and four Vicodin tablets into the prison in exchange for $75.

The inmate who assisted in the Nov. 5 sting, Erin T. Spade, 41, of Uniontown, testified before Senior District Justice Michael Rubish that he devised the plan to set up Hamborsky in the hope his cooperation would keep him out of state prison on a retail theft charge.

According to a police affidavit, Spade had been in the county jail since he was taken into custody on Aug. 30 for trying to leave the Wal-Mart store on Route 40 in South Union with a pair of bolt cutters hidden in his pants.

At the time of the alleged theft, Spade was on parole for an involuntary manslaughter conviction. In 2003, Spade was sentenced to two to four years in jail for the 1992 beating death of Robert A. Harris.

Spade was accused of striking Harris in the head during a botched robbery. Investigators initially were unaware of Spade’s involvement because Harris told them he had been hit in the head by someone he did not know. Harris died of a head injury within a week of the beating.

Charges were filed 11 years later, after a jailhouse informant tipped off investigators.

Spade, whose criminal record in Fayette County stretches back to 1987, testified he has known Hamborsky in his role as a prison guard since his first incarceration 20 years ago. He said he considered Hamborsky “a friend.”

Spade testified he went to Warden Larry Medlock a few days before the sting operation to seek help in avoiding a two- to four-year prison sentence on the retail theft charge. He said prison officials at the time were trying to stop an influx of snuff into the jail, so he advised Medlock and Detective Thomas O’Barto that he could persuade Hamborsky to smuggle tobacco and narcotics into the prison.

O’Barto testified he arranged for the contraband and money to be hidden under newspaper vending machines near the prison. O’Barto said he shot a video of Hamborsky removing the contraband from its hiding place before entering the jail.

Hamborsky was stopped immediately after he entered the prison, according to the affidavit, where the contraband was found in his sleeve.

O’Barto said the task force has not attempted any more sting operations at the jail since Hamborsky’s arrest, but it did try a similar operation at least once before. He provided no details of the failed sting.

Hamborsky is free on $25,000 unsecured bond. He was fired from his job as a corrections officer shortly after the criminal charges were filed.

Spade was returned to the Greene County Prison, where he was transferred after the Nov. 5 sting operation. He testified he is awaiting the outcome of the retail theft case, but he has not yet been advised whether his cooperation in Hamborsky’s case will curry any favor with District Attorney Nancy Vernon.

source: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribunereview/news/fayette/s_607059.html?source=rss&feed=7

One Response

  1. What a sad story all the way around. I don’t condone what Tim has done, but don’t portray him as some monster either! Yes, I know him. I met him at a nearby gym where he worked out. He called me Spike, as well as many others! What I don’t like about this whole deal is the fact that someone holds a criminal record for years, wanting a deal over Tim’s execution! So now, Spade wants a plea deal? Is the DA of Fayette County going to offer that deal? It seems to me that this man’s history needs to be re-evaluated before a deal is even considered! This really sickens me as the facts state, Spade on probation from a manslaughter conviction, robs a store and what not and now wants a plea deal??? Wow, Nancy Vernon, what is wrong with that picture? No, I don’t condone a prison guard supplying bad contraband, but I also don’t support you’re being a judge, juror, and executor over Tim and offering a hood (spade) the opportunity to appear on the streets for a new (down- the -road) conviction. The DA better think twice on that one! I’m totally aggravated about the whole deal! If Nancy Vernon offers Spade a plea deal, how sorry for the next person/business Spade crosses!

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