Aramark employees terminated for sexual conduct with inmates

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IONIA, Mich. -- Four Aramark employees at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility have been terminated for inappropriate sexual conduct with inmates, according to Russ Marlan with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).

It's a story FOX 17 News was first to break Wednesday morning.

Marlan said the workers were terminated  Wednesday and escorted off the premises after the warden reviewed surveillance footage from a food storage area.

Bellamy Creek officials and the MDOC are still investigating the incident.

Marlan said the Aramark workers were engaged in varying degrees of inappropriate sexual conduct with inmates.

"It was kissing, touching; it was not sexual intercourse," Marlan said. "That was not observed on camera. It was certainly inappropriate behavior and horseplay - things that should absolutely not be going on with our staff, our contractors and prisoners."

Aramark is contracted by the state to provide food service at Michigan prisons.

The company has been under fire recently for two incidents at Jackson facilities where maggots were discovered in food areas.

The first incident happened at Parnell Correctional Facility.   Roughly 30 inmates got sick after maggots were found just inches from a  food service line June 27.

Then, days later, workers at Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center found maggots in potatoes as they were preparing meals.  The warden ordered the food to be thrown out and the kitchen bleached.

"Our issue is managing this prison population and creating safe and secure prisons and instances like what happened today jeopardize that and we take that very seriously," Marlan said.

Aramark took over food operations in December 2013 under a 3-year contract worth $145 million.

Marlan says Aramark has been put on notice.

" We’re through this grace period," said Marlan. "We expect the contract to be complied with and then under the contract there are certain actions we can take to ensure that. At the end of the month, we’re gonna take a look at if there are any contract violations and what we plan to do about it."

Critics of Aramark have called on the MDOC, Gov. Snyder and the Legislature to end the contract with Aramark and re-bid the service.

Since the contract took effect Marlan says upwards of 80 Aramark employees have been banned from Michigan correctional facilities or fired.

"We share MDOC's zero tolerance for improper conduct and thank the department for working with us to promptly handle this situation," said Karen Cutler, Aramark's director of corporate communications.

There were 14 Aramark employees working at the Bellamy Creek facility before the four women were terminated. The contractor is now moving employees from the Ionia area to Bellamy Creek to cover the staffing shortage.

According to Marlan, Aramark's staffing level across the state is above 90 percent.

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    • Rita

      The problems were there with state employees they were just not publicized as they are with contracted employees. The state is trying to get rid of the contract by publicizing everything that goes wrong while under contract.

      • CHIP

        Bullshit. If a state employee was having sex with a convict it would be all over the news as it should. When someone violates the trust of fellow employees like that they put everyone at risk. The general consensus on this is any person who would do a thing like that is a total P.O.S. But I’m sure you saw Shawshank Redemption so you know what your talking about or maybe you’re getting your information from your incarcerated boyfriend.

        • Amy Bradley

          Very good point. And your so right when a state employee gets involved with an inmate then that meant their job and a lot more. These Aramark employees are getting a slap on the hand compared to what state employees would have gotten. I was a food Stewart and never once would I have ever jeperodized my job or the life of anyone else I might have put at risk inside there.

        • Gary McMurtrie

          ” But I’m sure you saw Shawshank Redemption so you know what your talking about or maybe you’re getting your information from your incarcerated boyfriend.”…………..Yep. First thing I thought when I read her drivel too. Inmates are not intellectuals, but they’re not completely stupid either. They’re well aware that Aramark will hire virtually anyone. They are encouraging their ‘peeps’ out ‘in the world’ to hire into these jobs-so as to facilitate the smuggling of drugs, and do-it-yourself conjugal visits.

          • tjay

            You sound like a correction guard, who should have stayed with your truck driving job,but thanks for giving us the opportunity to know the ignorance of the dept featuring people like you,and your numbers are plenty

      • Gary McMurtrie

        You have no idea what you’re talking about, and you should probably just stop talking. ‘The State’ is who facilitated Aramark’s contract in the first place. ‘The State’ has been ignoring or glossing over Aramark’s gross incompetence since the inception of said contract. In point of fact, ‘the State’ has gone above and beyond to cover up Aramark’s malfeasance, and keep it out of the media.

        • Tim

          That is bullshit right there. I see it first hand those c/o doing anything they can to fuck with ARAMARK workers like wait 15-20 minutes before calling another unit to drag out chowline. Then send out emails saying its aramarks fault. Everyone one these articles are stretched to make the state look good and Aramark look like shit.

      • Susanna Warner

        Rita you are so correct. I am a former mdoc prison psychologist. Any time an MDOC employee was fired for sexual activity w prisoners, it NEVER MADE IT TO THE NEWS.

  • Ronald Taylor

    WHEN is the state of Michigan going to step up and stop this by getting rid of Aramark and putting state employees back in charge of the prison kitchens? Are they going to prosecute the Aramark workers for having sex with prisoners? That is a felony. How much longer is the state going to tolerate lawlessness?

  • Hunter

    Rita, you have no business commenting when you have no idea what you are talking about. This type of conduct never happened with the STATE EMPLOYED food service stewards. Alot of these people were true professionals, devoted to doing a tough job, one that has a huge impact on the mentality and the actions of the prisoners. It is not even close to a safe operation, letting underpaid, unskilled people inside the walls of a prison!

  • tjay

    This story is no more news worthy then if it were, a state employee in the same let’s talk about the real realities.The old days of food service are over never to return and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to get year Aramark will bring the real deal,distrubution centers will be in place,packaged meals will be offered,with options for prisoners to purchase other items.if we are going to continue this monsterous prison operation we have to find a way to defray the cost away from the mich tax ,let’s just accept the reality of whats to more prisoners working food service,GOOD?

  • Mike Jensen

    sorry to burst your bubble folks, but as a veteran of 36 yrs in correctional food service, 25 of those in Sate prisons here in MI this type of thing has been going on forever, not just in foodservice but throughout the prison, also in County jails. Not quite as frequent, as State employees had a lot more to lose as they were better paid, had better bennies and retirement. Inmates are master manipulators and sadly too many women fall for the okey doke. Same was true of male staff in the years they worked in the female joints. strikes me that Aramark is doing a poor job of screening folks, exacerbated by not giving them adequate training re the games inmates play

  • Tim

    You are all fools to believe this never happened when state employees were in there. This happens with state workers to you just don’t hear about as much is because all these stories are driven by the unions that have the out of place workers. Am I the only one that sees that as this is the first article I have seen that didn’t state how many state workers were put out of a job. You people have no idea what happens in there. Maggots in the potatoes, in a bag that was delivered from the vendor. It was thrown out and the day went on but the unions guy spell it out for you that it was served and inmates got sick. Bullshit One side articles!