News and Press Releases

Former Detention Center Nurse Sentenced for Assisting Gang Member to Escape

May 6, 2005

Las Vegas, Nev. - A former nurse at the City of Las Vegas Detention Center who smuggled contraband into the facility, including a tool to assist in the escape of federal inmates, was sentenced today to five years of probation and eight months in a community corrections center for her guilty plea to Instigating or Assisting Escape, a felony offense, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

CHRISTINA LAVONDA MATHEWS, age 28, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to the charges on February 4, 2005. According to the guilty plea memorandum, on about March 1, 2004, MATHEWS was hired as a Licensed Practicing Nurse (LPN) at the City of Las Vegas Detention Center at 3300 Stewart Avenue, in Las Vegas. MATHEWS was assigned to a unit which houses federal prisoners. On about March 1, 2004, MATHEWS began an improper relationship with Leland Devine Banks, who was awaiting sentencing on federal charges. Throughout an approximately eight-month relationship, MATHEWS received over 1,000 recorded telephone calls from Leland Banks, in which they discussed escape plans for Banks and other federal inmates, and the smuggling of contraband, including cigarettes, marijuana, and wire cutting tools, into the facility.

During November 2004, in separate recorded conversations with a cooperating individual (CI), MATHEWS openly discussed the smuggling of contraband into the Detention Center and aiding in the escape of federal inmates. MATHEWS also met with the CI in front of MATHEWS' apartment building at 5250 Stewart Avenue, paid the individual $200 to smuggle marijuana into the Detention Center, and asked the individual to provide her with a new tool to cut the detention facility fence. Under the supervision of the investigating agents, the CI provided MATHEWS with a new wire cutting tool.

On November 21, 2004, MATHEWS was arrested at the Detention Center when she arrived for work. She confessed that she had smuggled contraband, including wire cutting tools, into the facility, and had provided them to Leland Banks. Contraband that MATHEWS had smuggled into the facility, and correspondence between MATHEWS and Banks, was discovered during a search of the unit that housed the federal inmates. Additional correspondence between MATHEWS and Banks, and the wire cutting device provided to MATHEWS by the CI, was recovered during a search of MATHEWS' apartment.

As conditions of her probation, MATHEWS was also ordered to undergo drug and mental health counseling, perform 100 hours of community work service, and have no contact with Leland Banks.

The case was investigated by Special Agents with the FBI and Officers with the City of Las Vegas Detention Center, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Gregory Damm.

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