‘Letter from Loretto' details prison life for former Cuyahoga County auditor Frank Russo

CLEVELAND - In "Letter from Loretto" a CIA torture whistleblower, whose cellmate was former Cuyahoga County auditor Frank Russo, details what prison life has been like.

"Loretto has 1,369 prisoners. About 50% are black, 30% are Hispanic and 20% are white. Of the white prisoners, most are pedophiles with personal stories that would make you sick to your stomach. The rest of the white prisoners are here for drugs, except for a dozen or so who ran Ponzi schemes. Of the 1,369 prisoners, 40 have college degrees and 6 of us have master's degrees. The GED program is robust."

That's just part of a 6-page letter written by former CIA agent John Kiriakou, who pens a very different lifestyle than Russo had been used to when he lived in his cozy Mayfield home.

Before he and Russo could sit down in the cafeteria at the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pa., they had to prove they weren't pedophiles.

"Are you a pedophile?" Nope, I said…"Do you have good paper?" I didn't know what this meant. It turned out that I had to get a copy of my formal sentencing documents to prove that I wasn't a child molester."

The area where they sleep is described as a cubicle made of concrete block.

"Built to hold four men, mine holds six. Most others hold eight. My cell-mates include two Dominicans serving 24- and 20-year sentences for drugs, a Mexican serving 15 years for drugs, a Puerto Rican serving 7 1/2 years for drug conspiracy, and the former auditor of Cuyahoga County, Ohio who's doing a long sentence for corruption. They're all decent guys and we actually enjoy each other's company."

In 2010, Russo was sentenced to 21 years in prison on nearly two dozen corruption-related charges, including accepting more than $1 million in bribes in exchange for more than $21 million in real estate appraisal contracts.
It's possible Russo could see his sentence reduced since he cooperated with the corruption investigation involving Jimmy Dimora and others.

As for Kiriakou, he blew the whistle on the U.S. government's use of torture under the Bush administration and is serving a 30-month sentence.

Something else of note in the letter pertains to corrections officers, or COs. Kiriakou said he tried pronouncing his name for them but a CO instead said she would call him an expletive. Kiriakou called her white trash.

"An hour later, four CO's descended on both of our cells, trashing all of our worldly possessions in my first "shake-down." Lesson learned: CO's can treat us like subhumans but we have to show them faux respect even when it's not earned.

You can read the 6-page letter here: http://5.wews.com/lHmdv

"Letter to Loretto" was published on May 29.

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