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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

USP Hazelton inmate charged with causing death of fellow prisoner

CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging Marricco Sykes, 36, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Hazelton, with causing the death of a fellow prisoner, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.

Sykes is alleged to have strangled the fellow prisoner during a physical altercation in late 2015. Following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the USP Hazelton Special Investigative Services Unit, Sykes is charged with one count of “First Degree Murder.” He faces life imprisonment or the death penalty as well as a fine of up to $250,000.

The grand jury also returned indictments charging several other federal inmates within the Northern District of West Virginia with offenses including illegal threats, assault, and unlawful possession of weapons.

Jeremy E. Smith, 36, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Hazelton, is alleged to have written letters threatening to use explosives to destroy government buildings in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. He is further alleged to have written a letter threatening the lives of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Following an investigation by the United States Secret Service and the USP Hazelton Special Investigative Services Unit, Smith is charged with one count of “Threat to Damage Buildings by Use of Explosives” for which he faces up to 10 years in prison. He is further charged with one count of “Threats Against the President,” and one count of “Threats Against Member of Immediate Family of Former President.” He faces up to five years in prison on each of these counts.  He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the three counts.

Antonio Lee, 33, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution at Hazelton, was allegedly discovered inside the prison in unlawful possession of a handcrafted weapon made from sharpened plastic. Following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the FCI Hazelton Special Investigative Services Unit, Lee is charged with one count of “Possession of Contraband in Prison – Weapon.” He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Arnaldo Martinez-Gomez, 30, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Hazelton, is alleged to have assaulted a fellow prison during a physical altercation. Following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the USP Hazelton Special Investigative Services Unit, Gomez is charged with one count of “Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to Cause Bodily Harm,” and one count of “Possession of a Prohibited Object – Weapon.” He faces up to 10 years in prison on the assault charge and up to five years in prison on the prohibited object charge. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the two counts.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Montoro is prosecuting Smith, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Perri is prosecuting Lee, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Cogar is prosecuting Gomez and Sykes on behalf of the government.

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated March 1, 2016